An ulterior existence

We do not get swept up as readily as might be by the big-screen excitements of film. But if we do read perseveringly we make available to ourselves, in a most portable form, an ulterior existence. We hold in our hands a way to cut against the momentum of our times. We can resist the skimming tendency and delve; we can restore, if only for a time, the vanishing assumption of coherence. The beauty of the vertical engagement is that it does not have to argue for itself. It is self-contained, a fulfilment.

- Sven Birkerts, 'The Own Has Flown', The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, p.76

Real life vs fantasy

"Oscar Wilde once said that one's real life is often the life one does not lead. Well, fucking right on, Oscar. My real life was full of headlining shows at Wembley and Madison Square Garden and platinum records, and Grammies, and that wasn't the life I was leading, which is maybe why it felt like I could throw it away. The life I was leading didn't let me… be who I thought I was."

- A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby, p.24

Ian McEwan sums up what Michael was getting at

"…we have undernourished our capacity for empathetic and magical participation in creation, we are both alienated and stunted by abstraction, removed from the profound and immediate apprehension, which is the hallmark of a whole person, of the dancing interpenetration of the physical and the psychic, their ultimate inseparability."

- Ian McEwan, The Child in Time (Picador, 1988), p.76


"It’s the daydreaming that does it. I’m doing the usual thing - imagining in tiny detail the entire course of the relationship, from first kiss, to bed, to moving in together, to getting married (in the past I have even organised the track listing of the party tapes), to how pretty she’ll look when she’s pregnant, to names of children - until suddenly I realise there’s nothing left to actually, like, happen. I’ve done it all, lived through the whole relationship in my head. I’ve watched the film on fast-forward; I know the whole plot, the ending, all the good bits. Now I’ve got to rewind and watch it all over again in real time, and where’s the fun in that?"

- High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (Indigo, 1996), p.247