October 30, 2012 by Daniel
I had more than this stuff prepared, but I finished Midnight’s Children finally! I ended up powering through hundred pages or so in a day – so this week, in honour of the book that basically started this entire adventure, here’s a bunch of quotes from it; and then never again will its name grace these online pages (in Highlights form, at least).
“I discovered, in the basket, how ghosts see the world. Dimly hazily faintly…it was around me but only just; I hung in a sphere of absence at whose fringes, like faint reflections, could be seen the specters of wickerwork. The dead die and are gradually forgotten; time does its healing, and they fade – but in Parvati’s basket, I learned that the reverse is also true; that ghosts, too, begin to forget; that the dead lose their memories of the living, and at last, when they are detached from their lives, fade away – that dying, in short, continues for a long time after death.”
“I no longer want to be anything except who I am. Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each “I”, every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow a world.”
“Scraps of memory: this not how a climax should be written. A climax should surge towards its Himalayan peak; but I am left with shreds, and must jerk towards my crisis like a puppet with broken strings. This is not what I had planned; but perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin.”
“For the first time, I fell victim to the temptation of every autobiographer, to the illusion that since the past exists only in one’s memories and the words which strive vainly to encapsulate them, it is possible to create past events simply by saying they occurred.”
“Symbolic value of the pickling process: all the six hundred million eggs which gave birth to the population of India could fit inside a single, standard-sized pickle-jar; six hundred million spermatozoa could be lifted on a single spoon. Every pickle-jar (you will forgive me if I become florid for a moment) contains, therefore, the most exalted of possibilities: the feasibility of the chutnification of history; the grand hope of the pickling of time!”
“One day, perhaps, the world may taste the pickles of history. They may be too strong for some palates, their smell may be overpowering, tears may rise to eyes; I hope nevertheless that it will be possible to say of them that they possess the authentic tasted of truth…that are, despite everything, acts of love.