Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Legal access to all the world's music. Downloaded on the fly, not stored on your hard disk. Ad-funded, or you can buy a subscription. Build playlists. Only recently opened to non-invitees. I'm totally sold. Even a complete musical puddinghead like me. It's the utter business.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Some other Updike quotes

The little flourishing of John Updike quotes that has occurred in the press now he's died are worth filing somewhere:

On religion:

I am very prone to accept all that the scientists tell us, the truth of it, the authority of the efforts of all the men and women spent trying to understand more about atoms and molecules. But I can't quite make the leap of unfaith, as it were, and say: 'This is it: carpe diem, and tough luck.'

On writing:

Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom but they dare to go it alone.

Reasons to write novels #17

'The inner spaces that a good story lets us enter are the old apartments of religion' (John Updike)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The meaning of life

Easily found in Sebastian Faulks' book Human Traces, which I've just finished with my reading group. The book, by the way, is beautifully done, its characters rich, its historical scenes and ideas vivid as it explores what it is to be human through the lives of two head-doctors. Such a fine writer.

(Digression: The jacket warns you that this book is 'ambitious' which means in this case that two extensive chapters are given over to psychological lectures, and is thus a publisher's aide memoire to give the author smaller advances in future, so that he doesn't spend quite so much time in the library for his next book.)

The main protagonist, Sonia (wife to one shrink and sister to the other), reflects on her life and losses and still concludes:

'Was it worth it? Was it worth the agony of loss? ...

'... it was enough, because nothing in any other world that might by chance have existed could have surpassed in majesty what she had felt; and she was transfigured by that joy, always, and even beyond death.'

Love is the meaning of life; simple really.