R.M. Renfield, acetate 59. – Sanguine temperament; great physical strength; morbidly excitable; periods of gloom ending in some fixed idea which I cannot make out. I presume that the sanguine temperament itself and the disturbing influence end in a mentally-accomplished finish; a possibly dangerous man, probably dangerous if unselfish. In selfish men caution is as secure as an armour for their foes as for themselves. What I think of on this point is, when self is the fixed point the centripetal force is balanced with the centrifugal; when duty, a cause, etc. is the fixed point, the latter force is paramount, and only the accident or a series of accidents can balance it. – pp. 75, Dracula by Bram Stoker
The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow. The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.
He reached into the cabinet and retrieved object after object, explaining to me the skein of stories that each drew behind it. For the individual compartments of the cabinet held remarkable things, among them a little dog modelled in unfired clay, Babylonian in origin; a sixteenth-century armourer’s trial piece of a long face framed by a helmet in the form of a wolf’s head with open jaws; an engraved brass box of seventeenth-century Low Countries manufacture, which once held one of the straws which fell drops of the blood of the Jesuit Henry Garnet, executed in London on 3 May 1606, bloodstains which were said to have formed a likeness of his face; a slice of marble from a quarry near Bristol, in which the veinery had, by geological chance, formed into a perfect facsimile of a sad Victorian landscape of misty ploughlands at evening; and the oval case of an original Claude glass, the small, blackened pocket mirror designed to reproduce in its reflection of any landscape the softened tones and single focal point characteristic of the art of Claude Lorrain.
[This reminds me of Aunt W.’s cabinet of curiosities – little bourgeois objets d’art she would purchase in every country that she visited – animal figurines fashioned out of glass swirling with aquamarines and yellow and vermillion, frozen to represent the 12 Chinese zodiacs; ornately patterned and bejewelled sterling or pewter Turkish jewellery boxes that opened to reveal stones of undeterminable origin, folded pieces of paper with nothing scribbled on it; Japanese good-luck pouches that were red or pink and fastened with little tinkling bells; a huge jar of key chains with many different countries’ names on every one of them, sometimes two or three of the same ones; little vials of unopened liquor embellished with French or Russian names we were too young then, to pronounce; magnets propped along the back of the cabinet with the decorative plates depicting green landscapes dotted with the odd sheep and cottage; a plastic Sphinx that lit up and changed colours; a wooden Dutch shoe; a paper umbrella like those you find in tropical cocktails – touristy knickknacks that we loved to pore over and wonder at, if more to while away the boring hours that my parents would spend at her place discussing nothing at all, than sheer curiosity, for it always appeared like a showcase, when all the lights were on inside, something that you can only gaze at through the dusty glass, as if all my aunt’s travel memories were too precious to be handled and marvelled at with the discovery of touch. I remember how my sisters and I would point and she would lift each item out and give a short recount of where she had gotten it and what it meant in its native country, and we would be thrilled at the rare times when she handed to us a memorabilia to hold and feel – the treasure box, the colourful cloth Indian elephant, the Tibetan hat.]
Atmospheric ducting is a mode of propagation of electromagnetic radiation, usually in the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere, where the waves are bent by atmosphericrefraction. In over-the-horizon radar, ducting causes part of the radiated and target-reflection energy of a radar system to be guided over distances far greater than the normal radar range. It also causes long distance propagation of radio signals in bands that would normally be limited to line of sight.
Normally radio “ground waves” propagate along the surface as creeping waves. That is, they are only diffracted around the curvature of the earth. This is one reason that early long distance radio communication used long wavelengths. The best known exception is that HF (3–30 MHz.) waves are reflected by the ionosphere.
The reduced refractive index due to lower densities at the higher altitudes in the Earth’s atmosphere bends the signals back toward the Earth. Signals in a higher refractive index layer, i.e., duct, tend to remain in that layer because of the reflection and refraction encountered at the boundary with a lower refractive index material. In some weather conditions, such as inversion layers, density changes so rapidly that waves are guided around the curvature of the earth at constant altitude.
Phenomena of atmospheric optics related to atmospheric ducting include the green flash, Fata Morgana, superior mirage, mock mirage of astronomical objects and the Novaya Zemlya effect.
It was after sex, when there was still heat and mostly breathing, when there was still touch and mostly thought…it was as if the whole world could be reduced to the sound of a single string being played, and the only thing this sound could make me think of was you. Sometimes desire is air; sometimes desire is liquid. And every now and then, when everything else is air and liquid, desire solidifies, and the body is the magnet that draws its weight.
Sometimes we’d go to a party and I would feel like an artificial boyfriend, a placeholder, a boyfriend-shaped space where a charming person should be. Those were the only times when my love for you couldn’t overcome my shyness. And every degree of disappointment I’d feel for you – whether real or of my own invention – would make me disappear further and further, leaving the fake front to nod, to sip, to say, ’Finish your drink, we’re leaving.’
‘Light, dust,’ he said, ‘so there’s something there after all! There is some kind of individual personality. You’ve definitely got one, Ginger. I’ve felt pretty strongly just recently. Or will you tell me I’m wrong?’
‘This personality, with all its quirks and stupidities simply dances like a doll in the clear light of my mind. And the more stupid this doll’s quirks, the clearer the light that I recognise over and over again.’
‘Now you’re saying ‘my mind’. But you only just said it’s not yours.’
‘That’s the way language works. It’s the root from which infinite human stupidity grows. And we were-creatures suffer from it too, because we’re always talking. It’s not possible to open your mouth without being wrong. So you shouldn’t haggle over words.’
[Despite the bleak overtone of a post-Soviet outlook, The Sacred Book of the Werewolf remains cheerful with a certain Nirvanic lyricism. This beautiful, tragicomical Russian satire is about the deepening loneliness of cynical souls embedded in 21st-century emptiness searching for fulfillment.
I picked up this book on the sole premise that I thoroughly enjoyed Helmet of Horror and it did not fail to please. A modern-day philosophical fairytale threaded through with quantum physics, existential nihilism and literature, this book is a treat and deserves a rereading many times over.]
[The Secret History isn’t the kind of narrative that would move or wrench powerful emotions out of you, but once in a while it does bring back the stink of inflated pubescent self-worthiness and might make you recall (if albeit fondly) about the over-glorification of being ‘cool’, ‘popular’, being in ‘love’ or ‘different’, that you and your peers might have strove (secretly, resignedly – knowing you will fail, or outrightly) to achieve.
It might remind you of your unsteady transition from post-adolescence into adulthood, or of the times when reason evaded you on why you were working so hard to complete your dissertation, why you were attending classes in the morning or why you had to show up for group projects. It might also remind you of the shallow fear that grips you unexpectedly when you were unsure if wearing a particular article of clothing might tip the scales ever so slightly away from looking like you have a genuine passion in acquiring knowledge to appearing pretentious and dilettante-like.
This book is fraught with the loss of time and youth. Lost time, wasted time. Blighted youth, smeared by alcohol and drugs, wasted youth. It draws to light the filth in which we emerge from to become adults and makes you ponder – long after you have turned the last page – how many of us actually manage to leave it behind when we journey into the next phase.]