Adjectives are the handles of Being. Nouns name the world, adjectives let you get hold of the name and keep it from flying all over your mind like a pre-Socratic explanation of the cosmos. Air, for example, in Proust can be (adjectivally) gummy, flaked, squeezed, frayed, pressed or percolated in Book 1; powdery, crumbling, embalmed, distilled, scattered, liquid or volatilized in Book 2; woven or brittle in Book 3; congealed in Book 4; melted, glazed, unctuous, elastic, fermenting, contracted, distended in Book 5; solidified in Book 6; and there seems to be no air at all in Book 7. I can see very little value in this kind of information, but making such lists is some of the best fun you’ll have once you enter the desert of After Proust.

-Anne Carson, The Albertine Workout. (via McNally Jackson)

HBD Joan

When and where were you happiest?

Once, in a novel, Democracy, I had the main character, Inez Victor, consider this very question, which was hard for her. She drinks her coffee, she smokes a cigarette, she thinks it over, she comes to a conclusion: “In retrospect she seemed to have been most happy in borrowed houses, and at lunch. She recalled being extremely happy eating lunch by herself in a hotel room in Chicago, once when snow was drifting on the window ledges. There was a lunch in Paris that she remembered in detail: a late lunch with Harry and the twins at Pré Catelan in the rain.” These lunches and borrowed houses didn’t come from nowhere.

Joan Didion, The Proust Questionnaire, 1993, Vanity Fair