I found this superb quote on the first page of the first book I opened at random yesterday. It is from the essay "Pan Lives" in THE MOMENT UNDER THE MOMENT. I pinned the yellow paper to a bulletin board of the Upper St Clair library. Everyone who goes in and out will see it today.
SA4QE - The Slickman A4 Quotation Event
This fan event began in 2002 as a unique way of spreading the words of Russell Hoban. Every 4th February (Russell's birthday), readers around the world write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper (the sort he used) and leave them in public places, and/or share them via this site or on social media with the hashtag #sa4qe Read more.
The latest posts to this site are displayed below in descending order.
There is a continual telling and asking going on, a continuous conversation that is trying to happen between everything around us and us. All of it is without words, much of it is silent. Listen, look, let it come to you—the turning of the earth away from Father Sun to Mother Night, the rolling of our cloud-wreathed planet in the vast deeps of space.
This year I left my quotations around Watford. The first in Watford library, in the reading section, hopefully to an interested audience. The second at Cha Cha Cha cafe in Cassiobury Park, Watford. It's a cold day for anybody to be in the park but the cafe is popular with people who have time to spare. I left it on a windowsill along with various leaflets left by other people and organisations. The cake at Cha Cha Cha is great, by the way!
One wakes up in the morning and puts on oneself. Everyone has experienced this: the self must be put on before any garment, and there is inevitably a pause as it were a caesura in the going forward of things before the self is put on. Why is this? It is because our mortal identity is not the primary one, not the profound, not the deep one. No, what wakes up from sleep is not Tiglath-Pileser or Peter Schlemiel or Pilgermann; it is simply raw undifferentiated being, brute being with nothing driving it but the forward motion imparted to it by the original explosion into being of the universe. For a fraction of a moment it is itself only; then must it with joy or terror put on that identity taken on with mortal birth, that identity that each morning is the cumulative total of its mortal days and nights, that self old or young, sick or well, brave or cowardly, beautiful or ugly, whole or mutilated, that is one’s lot.
From the book Pilgermann by Russell Hoban, 4th Feb 1925 – 13th Dec 2011.
Celebrating the anniversary of his birth in the annual SA4QE event.
4qating is 4weirdos. And I love it. On the 4th of February this year, I saw a band at an ex-Convent here in Melbourne: Kurt Vile and The Violators. Vile is from Landsdowne, Philadelphia, which is not the same as Russ' hometown of Lansdale, Philadelphia. On the night I thought it was, however, and so it felt great to 4qate at the gig. I think a few drunk hipsters made notes in their phones.
My sobre 4qating focused on Fitzroy and Collingwood, Melbourne suburbs full of weirdo arty types who stop to read everything posted/painted/stencilled, and gentrifying yuppie types who don't stop for anything. It felt like a place where Russ could find an audience, and the audience would find him.
Where are we? I said.
In the black.
This isn't black, it's red.
Sometimes the black is red.
From 'The Raven'. I posted/pasted this 4qation around the place 10-15 times.
[Angelica:] 'What's this got to do with my
[Psychoanalyst:] 'I have in mind your
fascination with sexual
intercourse with animals.'
[Angelica:] 'Only my hippogriff, and he's
I thought this one might be a bit risqué for a family friendly site (and I always 4qate responsibly), but I love it for Angelica's frank weirdness, which Russ tapped into so masterfully. Really, it's this kind of storytelling that reminds us - to steal a great phrase...from where, I forget - to live imagination, rather than to imagine life. Thanks, Russ.
On Tuesday, it was cold and windy and snowy, as it has so often been this winter, here in Chicago. In the morning I selected my quotes (two this year) and wrote them out on authentic, yellow A4 paper from Ryman's (purchased in London in September, specifically for this purpose) and headed out to work. As usual, I chose my quotes more or less at random, and as usual, I wasn't sure where they wanted to be left. At the end of my work day, I found the right spot for this one:
Under the bed Death sat humming to itself while it cleaned its fingernails. I never do get them really clean, it said. It's a filthy job I've got but what's the use of complaining. All the same I think I'd rather have been Youth or Spring or any number of things rather than what I am. Not Youth, maybe. That's a little wet and you'd hardly get to know people before they've moved on. Spring's pretty much the same and it's a lady's job besides. Action would be nice to be, I should think.
Elsewhere Action lay in his cell smoking and looking up at the ceiling. What a career, he said. I've spent more time in the nick than anywhere else. Why couldn't I have been Death or something like that. Steady work, security.
This I left taped to the inside of a bus shelter on Peterson Avenue, that butts up against the fence of Rosehill Cemetary (http://www.dignitymemorial.com/rosehill-cemetery/en-us/directions.page), a large burial ground not far from my house. Waiting for the bus, particularly the #84 Peterson bus, is something of an existential excerise, during which one (or I, at least) often contemplate death, from various angles. I thought this a fitting complement.
I headed on to The Brixton, a little bar/restaurant on Clark Street, which I thought had an appropriately London-related name. It was my intention to raise a glass to Russ, have a little bite to eat, and leave a quote behind. It was surprisingly busy for a snowy Tuesday night, and I took a seat at the bar. I ordered a perfect Manhattan and the potato soup - as close to potato pancakes as I could get at the moment. "Absent friends" I said to the man sitting next to me, as I lifted my glass. He looked at me and smiled vaguely. It's not a very common toast in America, so who knows what he made of it. I drank my drink and ate my (fantastically delicious) soup and paid my tab, after getting an oddly enthusiastic high-five from the bartender for, I guess, the excellence of my choices and my efficiency in ordering, consuming, and settling up. It was a strange moment. I'm a middle-aged woman, one who is rarely invited to give or receive high fives by anyone, and this wasn't a particularly high-fiving sort of establishment. And yet, as I asked for my bill, up went his hands and like magic up went mine; slap, smile, and "all right! I like it!" from the bartender. On my way out (bemused) I stopped into the ladies room and slipped a yellow paper, folded, between the folded hand towels next to the sink. The quote on that one read:
Holding on to the world is mostly an act of faith: you see a little bit of it front of you and you believe in the rest of it both in time and space. If you're scheduled for a jump to Hubble on Tuesday you believe in you, in Hubble, in the jump, and in Tuesday. Sometimes it was hard for me to believe all of it.
I suited up for my reentry into the night and the cold: coat, scarf, hat, gloves. Off I went.
As I am every year, I am delighted and amazed at all the contributions to the SA4QE this year. Thanks to all of you for taking part and thanks to Mr. Cooper and russellhoban.org for hosting us and most of all, thanks to Russ, the founder of the feast.