Ten years later, I am still pushing on. The universe I inhabit remains a mystery but I go on living and writing nonetheless, as though there were a reason for both. I have survived long enough to see my time map run in reverse. The future is now a dwindling proposition. If there are twenty years in front of me it will be enough to consider myself lucky.Almost every day I create an order on the page, which reflects the order I see in the world. Whether it actually is one or not doesn’t matter so much as the fact that the search moves me forward as though I am headed somewhere, and rescues me from the despair that would overwhelm me if I were not. In any case, I am so far along in my journey that there are projects I am reluctant to begin now, because I do not know whether there will be time enough to finish the page.
If I did not believe there was actually an order, I suppose I would not be able to pursue one at all. The quest is my comfort and the order my personal line of faith. They put oxygen into the air around me and allow me to breathe.
At the halfway mark of the last century, which to me does not seem so long ago, the gifted American writer William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature, an award, like every other human vanity, bestowed on the undeserving and the deserving alike. Faulkner titled his most famous novel, The Sound and the Fury, after a Shakespearean tragedy. Shakespeare’s story is about a nobleman, Macbeth, who in pursuit of worldly gain betrays every human value and relationship that is meaningful to him. In the process he is stripped of all human companionship and respect, until he is only an empty and embittered shell. “My life has fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf,” he reflects. Having emptied his own life of its spiritual supports, he turns against life itself, which he describes as, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
When Faulkner mounted the podium in Oslo to receive his Nobel Prize and felt as though he was speaking to the world, he struck a very different note. The year was 1950, the dawn of the nuclear era. Faulkner looked into the eye of its darkest prospect and declared, “I refuse to accept this. I believe that … when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded … in the last dying red evening… man will not merely endure: he will prevail.” Others criticized this pronouncement as mere bravado. What basis could Faulkner have to make such a claim? But this was not something he knew. It was his faith. It was the oxygen he needed to breathe.
April and I had acquired a little Mexican dog with black and white markings, whose improbable name is Jacob and whose brain is smaller than my fist. When Jacob wags his tail to signal his happiness he does not hide his pleasure as we who are burdened with consciousness often do. Instead, his whole frame is swept into the motion as though life had no reality but this. Jacob is one of the myriad creatures on this earth, ridiculous and also beautiful, whose origin is a mystery and who do not worry the significance of who, or why, or what they are.
If you have a favorite Horowitz quote you want to highlight for others then click here to submit. Please include:
- “Horowitz Quote of the Day” in subject line.
- A link to where the quote is from. (No need to include this if it’s from a book.)
- Any remarks you’d like published explaining what value you take from it.
- Your preferred name and a link to your blog or homepage (if you have one.)