SA4QE - The Slickman A4 Quotation Event 2014

SA4QE 2014 - Thoughtcat - Rugby, United Kingdom

Last SA4QE day I was in ambivalent mood, reflecting on my past relationship, so it seemed only right that I quoted from The Medusa Frequency, which is for me Russ's most lyrical, if at times most cynical novel about relationships. In the months that followed I struck up a special friendship with someone who loves the book as much as I do, so for 2014's Hobanic celebrations I again consulted Medusa, this time seeking out passages that resonated more romantically. In this vein I also chose Kleinzeit, which is far from cynical, very romantic, and probably Russ's funniest book.

I wasn't quite sure where to leave the passages I chose - on most SA4QE days in the past I've been in London, a city made for 4qating, but this year I was stuck in my reluctantly-adopted midlands home which doesn't seem quite on the same frequency as the metropolis. I also didn't have much time, nor transport, and round here you can't really go anywhere without a car, so I left all my quotations within five minutes' walk of my flat. It's interesting that once you start walking about, you start to notice lots of spots ripe for 4qation - shopping trolleys, signs, fence-posts all offered themselves up, but I went with the following.

Oh no, thought Kleinzeit when he saw Sister, this is too much. Even if I were well, which I'm probably not, even if I were young, which I no longer am, this is far too massive a challenge and it would be better not to respond to it. Even at arm-wrestling she could destroy me, how do I dare consider her thighs? He considered her thighs and felt panic rising in him. Offstage the pain was heard, like the distant horn in the Beethoven overture. Am I possibly a hero, Kleinzeit wondered, and poured himself a glass of orange squash.

Sister fingered his chart, noticed Thucydides and Ortega on the bedside locker. 'Good morning, Mr Kleinzeit,' she said. 'How are you today?'

Kleinzeit was glad he was wearing adventurous pyjamas, glad Thucydides and Ortega were there. 'Very well, thank you,' he said. 'How are you?'

'Fine, thank you,' said Sister. 'Kleinzeit, does that mean something in German?'

'Hero,' said Kleinzeit.

'I thought it must mean something,' said Sister. Maybe you, said her eyes.

Good heavens, thought Kleinzeit, and I'm unemployed too.

I left this in the free catalogue racks at the local Lidl. The humour and romance in this passage are obvious but most of all I'm drawn to the optimism. Just prior to this scene Kleinzeit has been fired from his job and booked into hospital for a potentially serious illness, and yet suddenly seeing Sister, none of this matters (panic aside, of course...)

'Alone and blind and endlessly voyaging I think constantly of fidelity. Fidelity is a matter of perception; nobody is unfaithful to the sea or to mountains or to death: once recognized they fill the heart. In love or in terror or in loathing one responds to them with the true self; fidelity is not an act of the will: the soul is compelled by recognitions. Anyone who loves, anyone who perceives the other person fully can only be faithful, can never be unfaithful to the sea and the mountains and the death in that person, so pitiful and heroic is it to be a human being.'

This is one of Russ's most famous and most beautiful passages. It soars and transcends. I think I would like it read out at my funeral, in fact. To love and to perceive another person to this extent is something to aspire to.

I had left the Lidl by this point and was thinking of leaving this quotation in an empty shopping trolley, but thought the bus stop adjacent was more appropriate for a character who is "endlessly voyaging". Plus, sellotaping it to a bus shelter might even give the passage a decent chance of being read ;-)

'Do you think about fidelity sometimes?' said the head [of Orpheus].
'Sometimes.' Years after Luise had gone I found inside a copy of Rilke's Neue Gedichte her recipe for bread; I'd never seen her use a written-down recipe but there it was in her writing on a folded-up feint-ruled notebook page marking 'Orpheus, Eurydike, Hermes':

1.5 kg granary flour
2 dessertsp oil
1      "   salt
1 tblesp caraway seeds
2      "  dried yeast
1½ pts water, bloodwarm
1 teasp sugar

Put flour in a bowl, add oil & caraway seeds. Put sugar & yeast in a jug, add a little of the warm water. Leave for 10-15 mins in a warm place to froth, add salt to warm water. When yeast dissolved, add to the flour and water. Stir, then turn on to a floured board & knead 10-15 mins until it is elastic. Put back in bowl, cover, leave to rise in warm place. When doubled in size, take out, divide into 2, knead & thump, shape into loaves and put in greased tins. Cover, leave for 10 mins in a warm place, then put in oven & bake at 220º for 40-5 mins.

The smell of the brown loaves was like fidelity.

I've always loved this definition of fidelity. Russ was a writer who revelled in "found" items and had no qualms about reproducing an entire recipe in a novel. The one thing I've never done is try to actually make this recipe; I left it too late this year and couldn't get all the ingredients quickly enough, but one day I'll do it. I left this passage in with the loaves at the local Costcutter. The bread at the Lidl is pretty low-fidelity stuff but the corner shop sells fantastic bread made by a local company called John Dwyer Bakery, which is about as faithful as you can get around here without access to yeast and caraway seeds.

As ever I walked away wondering if anybody would find these sheets of paper and if so, whether they would read them and if so, what they would make of them. I've been involved with this activity ever since it started in 2002 and I've never heard of anybody getting in touch with anyone as a result of finding a quote. But I don't think that's the point, really. You do it to pay your respects, especially now that Russ has passed on, but it was always about a ritual and a celebration.

Special thanks this year to Russell Hoban for writing The Medusa Frequency and bringing someone special into my life :-)

Filed under Rugby United Kingdom Kleinzeit The Medusa Frequency

SA4QE 2014 - Lindsay Edmunds - Pennsylvania, United States

I usually pick a short quotation for the SA4QE event, but this year I decided to go long. This one relates to Russ's native state, Pennsylvania, which happens to be mine, too. Although I did not get a picture, I did set the quotation free and let it be found. Because it is about water, I left it propped up in front of a display of fountains, all running, in a store named Trax. Trax has been around since the mid 19th century, and its survival, never mind its apparent prosperity, is deeply improbable. It sells plants, garden things, groceries, soup, baked goods, sandwiches, wine, produce, and -- up a steep flight of stairs -- antiques. The quotation looked like it belonged in front of the fountains, which made a sound I imagined to be like the water flowing from the iron pipe in the quotation.

Dr Jim Long was born in Pennsylvania, and sometimes when his mind is pedalling in busy circles he recalls a thing from his youth. He recalls a drink of water from a mountain spring in the Appalachians. He was hot and sweaty and tired when he came upon a stone trough with water flowing into it from an iron pipe. Cold sparkling mountain water filling the trough from an iron pipe that was beaded with droplets of condensation. There were leaves and sand and tiny crayfish in the bottom of the trough. He plunged his face into the water and drank the best drink he would ever have in his life. The leaves of the trees were stirring in the summer breeze. Everything was more than itself.


"Here's to you Cyd. We'll stay danced with."

Quotation refers to the passing of the great American dancer, Cyd Charisse.

Filed under Pennsylvania United States Angelica Lost and Found

SA4QE 2014 - dogfrendy - Melbourne, Australia

$10.26 well spent.

I was accidentally reminded of todays significance by a colleague, my mind somehow connecting a statement of hers to a book, followed by a half remembrance and a Google search. 

A pleasant serendipity in a week of less than pleasing coincidences. It led, in fairly short order, to the oddly cathartic activity of taping sheets of yellow paper to.......things.

At some point the quotes took charge. I was pulling them out of my bag at random and it was windy and it was getting too dark but it all seemed to make a perfect kind of sense and I ended up spending several hours dispensing Hoban to the inner city.    

“If we'd been edible we'd never have lasted this long.” 

42 sheets of yellow paper this year.   

SA4QE is something I have long meant to be contribute to, but have routinely overlooked. I shall look forward to participating again in years to come.

Unless I forget.

Filed under Melbourne Australia The Mouse and his Child

SA4QE 2014 - K. A. Laity - Twitter/Facebook/Dundee, United Kingdom

In keeping with a very Hobaninan spirit, I am writing in bed, so afeared that I would not acutally venture out and about to leave a sheet of A4 somewhere in town (if I do, I will amend this), I created a virtual sheet of A4 which I shared on Twitter and Facebook. I will also add it to the blog entry I'm writing today. I wanted something uplifting and inspiring, so I went to The Mouse and His Child for hope in a difficult world.

"All roads, whether long or short, are hard," said Frog. "Come, you have begun your journey, and all else necessarily follows from that act. Be of good cheer. The sun is bright. The sky is blue. The world lies before you."

Filed under Twitter/Facebook/Dundee United Kingdom The Mouse and his Child