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

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See also the latest SA4QE tweets

The most recent posts to this site are displayed below in descending order.

SA4QE 2018 - Steve Long - London, United Kingdom

I knew that my time was coming soon, I knew that I must be alert to recognize the time and place so that my death might be the best possible. But even as that thought moved through my mind it was hurried on its way by another thought coming behind it. This second thought asked whether it might not be only vanity and a striving after wind to want so much for one’s death; whether it might not be better to require nothing whatever of it or for it but simply to welcome it whenever and however it might come, to welcome it as one welcomes the stranger to whom one must always show hospitality.

With that feeling came an understanding that from then on every moment would be – indeed always had been – as the last moment. This wants to be made perfectly clear, it may be the only thing I have to say that matters; this idea has for me both the brilliance of the heart of the diamond of the universe and the inverse brilliance of the heart of the blackness in which that diamond lives: this moment that is every moment is always the last moment and it came into being with the first moment; it is that moment of creation in which there comes into being the possibility of all things and the end of all things; it is the blossoming jewel at the heart of the explosion, the calm quiet dawn at the centre of the bursting.

Brompton Cemetery in was the site for my first quotation in 2018, in Russ's old stamping ground, a fifteen minute walk from where he lived. The chapel was closed off with fences for refurbishment, but one of the hoardings was a useful place to leave my yellow paper. Death was the theme of my first quotation, and a cemetery seemed an appropriate place for it, if a little obvious. Brompton cemetery is one of the so called Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London, opened in the early Victorian era on what was then the edge of the city to ease overcrowding in the city's graveyards, and is still in use for burials. The cemeteries have become valued green spaces in the city and my wife and I have completed a project to visit all seven, sometimes visiting single cemeteries and sometimes walking between them. I was on my own on this occasion, next stop Earl's Court tube station to travel to the South Bank.

It was an earthy dance, nothing of it moved up into the air, it was as if earth had formed itself into a man and the man was dancing himself slowly back into the earth. Bembel Rudzuk danced more and more slowly and more and more deeply until the body I saw before me stood motionless like the nymphal shell left behind by a dragonfly. But Bembel Rudzuk, unlike the dragonfly, seemed not to have flown away into the air but to have danced himself out of his body into the earth.
The shell of Bembel Rudzuk opened its eyes and Bembel Rudzuk looked out of them.
“Was this your dream?” I said. “Were you dancing your dream?”
“Earth,” he said. “I was dancing earth.”
“Are you awake?” I said.
“Which is the dream?” he said.

The Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank was the venue for my second quotation. It seemed to have relevance for the dance reference within the quotation. Yellow is a theme for public information signage in the Festival Hall and I wondered if the yellow paper would stand out sufficiently well, however it was right in the middle of a public thoroughfare so hopefully attracted some attention! I hung around for a while, had a bite of lunch at the RFH cafe overlooking the river, and the yellow paper was still there when I left. I was on my way to visiting the Andreas Gursky exhibition in the newly re-opened Hayward Gallery next door - well worth visiting if you're in the area.

Filed under London United Kingdom Pilgermann

SA4QE 2018 - Thoughtcat - London, United Kingdom

I knew my quotation this year had to come from The Medusa Frequency for personal reasons, as it's probably Russell Hoban's most profound book about a relationship, plus it was the very first of his books that I read, and is still my favourite. I wasn't sure which quote to choose though. When I went to my original copy, a battered Picador paperback, I found one page had been dog-eared long ago, and another was marked with a train ticket and a sheet of yellow paper from a previous SA4QE outing. I tried flicking through the book but it kept wanting to open at these two pages, so I stopped trying to fight it and read through them. The pages had been bookmarked for other quotes in years past but looking around the paragraphs, there were more appropriate lines to my personal situation these days. The quote I chose is spoken by the Head of Orpheus from a conversation he relates between him (when he was the full-bodied Orpheus) and Eurydice, to the book's narrator Herman Orff. It's not without irony that I realise I am now nearly the same age as Herman is when he narrates the book; this is especially unnerving when I think that I first read the book at the age of 17.

I posted the quote on the parapet of Richmond Lock, not far from where I live; Hoban quotes, certainly from Medusa, seem to me to require a river setting. It was mid-afternoon but very grey, bitterly cold and near to snow, and the lights on the west side of the lock were lit up, in the exact same "hibiscus pink-orange" colour that Hoban says elsewhere "always tugs at my heart".

‘“Orpheus,” she said to me softly, “now the story has found us, now we have become story and I must leave you.”

   ‘“Why?” I said. “Why must you leave me?”

   ‘“Because Eurydice is the one who cannot stay,” she said. “Eurydice is the one who is lost to you, the one you will seek for ever and never find again. Eurydice is the one of whom you will say ‘If only I had known what she was to me!’”

   ‘“If only I had known what you were to me!” I said.

   ‘“You did know,” she said. “Orpheus always knows and he always does what he does and Eurydice becomes lost to him.”

My face was numb from the cold. I walked into the town centre and eventually found an empty cafe with jazz playing softly in the background, where I had tea and cake and gazed out of the window onto the street, and remembered.

Filed under London United Kingdom The Medusa Frequency

SA4QE 2018 - Ra McGuire - White Rock, Canada

A blustery but beautiful morning has turned grey, then black, as I watch from my home on the hill. By now the yellow paper I left overlooking the pier will have disintegrated. Appropriate, I say. Part of the bigger picture. Part of the moment beneath the moment. An ephemeral celebration of Russ’s naming day.

One assumes that the world simply is and is and is but it isn't, it is like music that we hear a moment at a time and put together in our heads. But this music, unlike other music, cannot be performed again.

Filed under White Rock Canada Pilgermann

SA4QE 2017 - Roland Clare - London, United Kingdom

Since work obliged me to be in South Kensington on Russmass, I used a South Ken snippet from Amaryllis Night and Day; the plan had been to affix copies close to Hobanoid exhibits in three museums, but I was frustrated by huge crowds (V&A closed to walk-up customers) and by the fact that the Klein Bottles are no longer on display in the Science Museum's Mathematics Gallery. So it was a bit of a fizzle ... but still very enjoyable, as always, seeing the public peering at the yellow A4 sheets and ... let us hope ... deciding there and then to become lifelong Russ readers.

At South Kensington I rose from the depths, escalated to the upper world, passed through the arcade and the queue at the 14 bus stop, crossed between the cars and walked up Exhibition Road where soft ice-cream and hot dogs sweltered and coachloads of emptiness waited for their children to return. The sunlight, crazed with detail, explored every wrinkle, whisker, pore and pimple of tourists consuming Coca- Cola, mineral water, coffee, tea, hot dogs, soft ice-cream, exhaust fumes, and culture.

The sunlight explored me as well as my footsteps joined those of generations of children, mums, dads, teachers and others all the way back to the heavy tread of Roman legions marching with their standards and centurions up Exhibition Road to the Victoria and Albert, the Natural History, and the Science Museum thirsting for dinosaurs, volcanoes, Indian bronzes, William Morris, and steam locomotives. Not only was I prepared to have empty spaces in me filled with wonders, I was vaguely excited and expectant, as if the sluggish air were alive with possibilities.

Filed under London United Kingdom Amaryllis Night and Day