Epigraphs serve as touchstones, little guidances, a way of tuning in to the work at hand. They’re like the musical hummings our grade school teacher would make as she sought to get us –40 or more untalented sixth graders–to sing in harmony, to launch us into song.
Some will appear at the beginning of the finished book, others at the head(s) of key sections. They serve, too, as a kind of scaffolding as I move through hundreds of pages of notes, a morass of material, “dark matter…” What is this thing all about anyway? Dr. Sward’s Cure… I may even change the title. Soul Retrieval? I don’t want to confuse people. I am NOT the Dr. Sward in the title. That’s my father. I’m the fucked up melancholic son mourning the loss of a complex and difficult man.
Epigraphs. Because I’m one of those people who goes forward by going sideways, left, right, forward and back, needing guideposts to light the way, I check in each day with my mentors.
“I too have moments of faith, or assurance, or beauty—or maybe just lapses in nihilism. In the morning I’m capable of hearing the music of the spheres—it’s when the stars come out that I first hear the howling of eternal nothingness.”
–Peter De Vries, (letter to J.D. Salinger)
“In the absence of hope, we must still struggle to survive, and so we do—by the skin of our teeth.”
–William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice
“The dark karmas that haven’t been worked out will sneak in any chance they get.”
–Baba Hari Dass
Count on it: there’s always a little darkness.
“When you make one wrong turn, the errors tend to compound.”
–Henry Roth. (The New Yorker, Aug 1 ’05)
“The meaning of life is to go back to sleep and hope tomorrow will be a better day.”
–Charles Shultz, Peanuts
… the people with the truest understanding of their own abilities, research shows, tend to be depressives. [paraphrase]
–The New Yorker, Aug. 22 ’05.
“Late, late yestreen I saw the new moon
with the old moon in her arms;
and I fear, I fear, my master dear!
We shall see a deadly storm.”
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dejection: An Ode.
“The soul has a soul and the soul of the soul is God.”
“Without the invisible, you’re invisible.
Without the invisible, there’s no you.
Of course in your case the invisible
has a reason to be invisible.
Truth is, son, God doesn’t want to be seen with you.”