Frank Lloyd Wright, The Natural House
“ Vistas of inevitable simplicity and ineffable harmonies would open, so beautiful to me that I was not only delighted, but often startled. ”
Evelyn Waugh, Black Mischief, Chapter 5
“ It was from the least expected quarter, the tribesmen and villagers, that the real support for Seth’s Birth Control policy suddenly appeared. ”
Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom, Pp. 406-7.
“ The biblical counterpart of Odysseus, Jacob must solve the fundamental human difficulties illustrated in the pre-Abrahamic chapters of Genesis. ”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, A Dangerous Place, Chapter 1: A Half-Life, p8-9
“ In that I was a member of the Cabinet, protocol provided that I step out of Air Force One behind the President and ahead of Kissinger, who was also on the journey. Somehow Kissinger invariably reached the ground ahead of me. ”
Ian Fleming, Diamonds are Forever
“ It was natural to bring out the small change and jerk the handles and watch the lemons and the oranges and the cherries and the bell fruits whirl round to their final click-pause-ting, followed by a soft mechanical sigh. Five cents, ten cents, a quarter. Bond gave them all a try… ”
David Pryce-Jones, “Jews, Arabs, and French Diplomacy: A Special Report”
“ The Zionists must understand once and for all that there can be no question of constituting an independent Jewish state in Palestine, or even forming some sovereign Jewish body. ”
Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, Chapter 1, General Principles of Expression
“ It is well known that cats dislike wetting their feet, owing, it is probable, to their having aboriginally inhabited the dry country of Egypt; and when they wet their feet they shake them violently. My daughter poured some water into a glass close to the head of a kitten; and it immediately shook its feet in the usual manner; so that here we have an habitual movement falsely excited by an associated sound instead of by the sense of touch. ”
Edward Lear, Journals of a Landscape Painter in the Balkans
“ Not the least annoyance was that given me by the persevering attentions of a mad or fanatic dervish, of most singular appearance as well as conduct. His note of ‘Shaitán‘ was frequently sounded; and as he twirled about, and performed many curious antics, he frequently advanced to me, shaking a long hooked stick, covered with jingling ornaments, in my very face, pointing to the Kawas with menacing looks, as though he would say, “Were it not for this protector you should he annihilated, you infidel!” ”
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
“ The drink was as remarkable as the food, and Caligula became so lively as the meal went on that, deprecating his own generosity to Herod in the past as something hardly worth mentioning, he now promised to give him whatever it lay in his power to grant. “Ask me anything, my dearest Herod,” he said, “And it shall be yours.” He repeated: “Absolutely anything. I swear by my own Divinity that I will grant it.” ”
waited at the bus stop outside the church beside two nuns identically buried within the coarse heavy cloth of those voluminous black habits that I’d never had a chance to study as I did that day. Back then, a nun’s habit reached to her shoes, and that, along with the brilliant white, starched arc of cloth that starkly framed her facial features and obliterated all lateral vision — the stiffened wimple that hid scalp, ears, chin, and neck and was itself enfolded in an extensive white headcloth — made of the traditionally dressed Catholic nuns the most archaic-looking creatures I had ever seen, far more startling to behold in our neighborhood than even the creepily morticianlike priests. No buttons or pockets were visible, and thus there was no way to figure out how that sheath of thickly gathered curtaining got hooked up or how it was taken off or whether it ever was taken off, given that overlaying everything was a large metal cross suspended from a long cord necklace, and strung beads, big and shiny as “killer” marbles, that dangled several feet down from the front of a black leather belt, and, secured to the headcloth, a black veil that broadened at the back and fell straight to the waist. Other than within the naked little region that was the wimpled, plain, unornamented face, no nap, no softness, no fuzziness anywhere.
I assumed these were two of the nuns who supervised the lives of the orphans and taught in the parochial school. Neither looked my way and, on my own, without a wisecracking sidekick like Earl Axman, I didn’t dare to look at them other than in stolen glances, though even while I stared at my own two feet, the clever child’s capacity for self-censorship deserted me and I confronted the mysteries again and again, all the questions concerning their female bodies and its lowliest functions, and all tending toward depravity. Despite the seriousness of the afternoon’s secret mission and everything that rode on its outcome, I couldn’t manage to be anywhere near a nun, let alone a pair of them, without a mind awash in my none-too-pure Jewish thoughts.
The nuns took the two seats behind the driver and, though most of the seats farther to the rear were empty, I sat down across the narrow aisle from the two of them, in the seat just back from the turnstile and the fare box. I’d had no intention of sitting there, didn’t understand why I was doing so, but instead of moving off to where I could be out from under the sway of unfettered curiosity, I opened my notebook to pretend to do my schoolwork, simultaneously hoping and dreading that I’d overhear them say something in Catholic. Alas, they were silent, praying I supposed, and no less spellbinding for doing it on a bus.
Some five minutes from downtown, there was a musical clack of rosary beads as together they rose to disembark at the wide intersection of High Street and Clinton Avenue. On one side of the junction there was an auto dealer’s lot and on the other the Hotel Riviera. As they passed, the taller of the nuns smiled down at me from the aisle and, with a vague sadness in her quiet voice — perhaps because the Messiah had come and gone without my knowing it — commented to her companion, “What a well-scrubbed, cute little boy.”
She should have known what I’d been thinking. Then again, maybe she did.
Rue de la Pay