sâmbătă , 24 iunie 2017

“The Prince of Tides,” by Pat Conroy: short fragments of art

prince-of-tidesphoto

My favorite paragraphs from Pat Conroy’s most beloved book, “The Prince of Tides” – an memorable story about family, honesty, learning to accept your past, and love.

~~~

My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.

***

It was five o’clock in the afternoon Eastern Standard Time when the telephone rang in my house on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. My wife, Sallie, and I had just sat down for a drink on the porch overlooking Charleston Harbor and the Atlantic. Sallie went in to answer the telephone and I shouted, “Whoever it is, I’m not here.”

***

“How do you know mental illness is not some kind of diarrhea of the brain, big man? Something goes haywire and the body has a thousand different ways of letting you know something’s wrong. The body’s got integrity and you’ve got to listen to it.”

***

You get a little moody sometimes, but I think that’s because you like to read.

***

People that like to read are always a little fucked up.

***

The catatonic has always seemed the holiest of the psychotics to me. There is integrity in the vow of silence and something sacred in the renunciation of movement. It is the quietest human drama of the soul undone, the solemn dress rehearsal for death itself.

***

There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past. I am more fabulist than historian, but I will try to give you the insoluble, unedited terror of youth. I betray the integrity of my family’s history by turning everything, even sadness, into romance. There is no romance in this story; there is only the story.

***

It amazed him that the stars over Germany were the same as the ones that shone in the Colleton sky. He could look straight up at night and be home; he felt a fraternal, neighborly connection to the arranged light above him.

***

At Sheridan Square, I would buy a copy of The New York Times from the disturbingly anonymous vendor. He was representative of a whole subspecies of New Yorkers who performed thankless yet essential jobs with appearances as unspecified as subway tokens. Backtracking to Bleecker Street, I would buy two croissants from a French bakery run by an insouciant Madame from Lyon. As I walked back to the apartment, I would eat one of the croissants. These were admirable croissants, light and warm as birds, and they broke apart in crusty leaves while they still contained a slight heat of the ovens. My hands smelled like good bread as I sat in the living room chair and opened to the sports section.

***

There is such a thing as too much beauty in a woman and it is often a burden as crippling as homeliness and far more dangerous. It takes much luck and integrity to survive the gift of perfect beauty, and its impermanence is its most cunning betrayal.

***

This was our life, our destiny, our childhood. We lived it the best we could and the island was lovely and kind.

***

There is nothing more erotic on earth than a boy in love with the shape and touch of his mother. It is the most exquisite, most proscribed lust. It is also the most natural and damaging.

***

No one has the patent on human suffering. People hurt in different ways and for different reasons.

***

She was the kind of woman who knew instinctively that extreme happiness could not be duplicated; she knew how to shut a door properly on the past.

***

Love has no weapons; it has no fists. Love does not bruise, nor does it draw blood.

***

“There’s only one crime a woman cannot be forgiven for,” I said. “No husband will ever forgive her for marrying him. The American male is a quivering mass of insecurities. If a woman makes the mistake of loving him, he will make her suffer terribly for her utter lack of taste. I don’t think men can ever forgive women for loving them to the exclusion of all others.”

***

“I’ve always thought that dreams were both the love letters and the hate mail of the subconscious.

***

To see a woman lift her arms and place a flower in her curls is still an act of indescribable delicacy and beauty to me. In that sensual gesture, I have placed all the sadness and pity of lost mothers.

***

If you are not a great athlete, pretend you are.

***

The great athletes do not need to be actors, but the rest of us do.

***

That sharp perfume of fresh fish and shrimp always made the walk to the boat seem as if I were under water, breathing immaculate salt tides through the pores of my skin. As the children of a shrimper, we were just one more form of marine life in the lowcountry.

***

“People ask me all the time what it’s like being married to a saint. Boring, I tell them. Better to marry a devil. I’ve tasted a little bit of heaven in my life and a little bit of hell and I’ll take hell every time.”

***

In family matters you can get over anything. That’s one thing you’ll learn as an adult.

***

These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot recapture entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart

***

“I think it began when I chose the absolutely wrong parents. I know, you don’t think children have a choice in the matter. I’m not sure. I have an intuitive feeling that I chose to be born into that particular family. Then you spend your life making a series of false assumptions and wrong moves. You set yourself up for catastrophe. You find yourself in danger and peril because of the choices you’ve made. Then you discover that fate is also busily working to set you up, to lead you into regions that no one should be required to enter. When you realize all this, you are thirty-five years old and the worst is behind you. No, that’s not true. The worst is ahead of you because now you know the horror of the past. Now you know you have to live the memory of your fate and your history for the rest of your life. It is the Great Sadness and you know that it’s your destiny.”

***

We swam until the sun began to set in an Atlantic so different from the ocean that broke against our part of the eastern seaboard that it did not seem possible that they were related in any way. The Florida ocean was clear-eyed and aquamarine and I had never been able to see my own feet as I walked chest-deep in the sea.

***

But where do we run when there are no crowds, no lights, no end zones? Where does a man run? the coach said, studying the films of himself as a boy. Where can a man run when he has lost the excuse of games? Where can a man run or where can he hide when he looks behind him and sees that he is only pursued by himself?

***

She felt a connection to wilderness that made her feel invulnerable. She felt alive and open to all things.

***

“There’s only one thing difficult about being a man, Doctor. Only one thing. They don’t teach us how to love. It’s a secret they keep from us. We spend our whole lives trying to get someone to teach us how to do it and we never find out how. The only people we can ever love are other men because we understand the loneliness engendered by this thing denied. When a woman loves us we’re overpowered by it, filled with dread, helpless and chastened before it. Why women don’t understand us is that we can never return their love in full measure. We have nothing to return. We were never granted the gift.”

***

That night we lay on our backs on the floating dock and felt the whole river fill up with the grandeur of completion as it neared the headwaters of the sea. In the scant light of a new moon, we could see every star that God meant the naked human eye to see in our part of the world. The Milky Way was a white river of light above me and I could lift my hand in front of my face and annihilate half of that river of stars with the palm of my hand.

***

I learned that silence could be the most eloquent form of lying.

***

When we awoke on Sunday morning we made love again and we were good together and sunlight was on my back as we moved together in my sister’s bed. Then we slept until ten, entangled in each other’s arms. I rose first and walked to the window in the living room and shouted down to the streets. “I love New York City, I love it. I goddamn love it.” No one even looked up and I walked to the kitchen to fix a perfect omelet for Susan Lowenstein.

***

You can’t change the way you are if you can’t admit to the way you’ve been.

***

I lived with the terrible knowledge that one day I would be an old man still waiting for my real life to start. Already, I pitied that old man.

***

I would like to have seen the world with eyes incapable of anything but wonder, and with a tongue fluent only in praise.

***

In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.

***

It’s an act of will to have a memory or not, and I chose not to have one.

***

You can find „The Prince of Tides” HERE

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