Friday, May 30, 2014
There was a auction block, I saw right here in Petersburg on the corner of Sycamore street and Bank street. Slaves were auctioned off to de highest bidder. Some refused to be sold. By dat I mean, cried "Lord! Lord!" I done seen dem young'uns fought and kick like crazy folks; child it wuz pitiful to see 'em. Den dey would handcuff an' beat 'em unmerciful. I don' like to talk 'bout back dar. It brun' a sad feelin' up me. If slaves 'belled, I done seed dem whip 'em wid a strop cal' "cat nine tails." Honey, dis strop wuz 'bout broad as yo' hand, from thum' to little finger, an' 'twas cut in strips up. Yo' done seen dese whips dat they whip horses wid? Well dey was used too.
Charles Crawley, Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers Project 1936-1938: Virginia (2006)
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Expressions of disbelief. Probably thought she was making up fairy stories. But that was the truth. We all had to pass through those. Even before birth, even in our mothers' bodies, we had to live through it all, three point seven million years, the whole exhausting evolution of man in nine months. All the ballast stored in our bones. We were a patchwork, the sum of all previous parts, a stopgap that worked more or less, full of superfluous characteristics. We dragged the past around with us. It made us what we were, and we had to deal with it. Life wasn't a struggle, it was a burden. You had to bear it. As best you could. A task to perform from the first drawn breath. As a human being you were always at work. You never died of an illness, only ever of the past. A past that had not prepared us for this present.
Judith Schalansky, The Giraffe's Neck, 2014
Thursday, May 8, 2014
As a writer I believe that all basic human truths are known. And what we try to do as best we can is come at those truths from our own unique angle, to reilluminate those truths in a hopefully different way.
William Goldman, Adventures In The Screen Trade (1982)