1.10.2008

The Zookeeper's Wife

Here are just a few things that I found beautiful in the book "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman:

Prose attributed Abraham Joshua Heschel:

  • Man is a messenger who forgot the message

  • Pagans exalt sacred things, the Prophets extol sacred deeds

  • The search of reason ends at the shore of the known

  • The stone is broken but the words are alive

  • To be human is to be a problem, and the problem expresses itself in anguish

  • [Heschel felt] Loyal to the presence of the ultimate in the commonplace

  • in doing the finite [we] may perceive the infinite
Ackerman: "All our senses feed the brain, and if it diets mainly on cruelty and suffering, how can it remain healthy? Change that diet, on purpose, train mentally to refocus the mind, and one nourishes the brain." (The book is a World War II Holocaust story)
Also, here are some great Yiddish curses (in English, though):
"May you piss green worms!"
You should own a thousand houses
with a thousand rooms in each house
and a thousand beds in every room.
And you should sleep each night
in a different bed, in a different room,
in a different house, and get up every morning
and go down a different staircase
and get into a different car,
driven by a different chauffeur,
who should drive you to a different doctor
--and he shouldn’t know what’s wrong with you either!

I've already used the longer one today--hope you can put them to good use as well.
p.s. I've found the writing in the book a little long-winded and awkward, but the story is generally interesting.

2 comments:

cranat said...

"All our senses feed the brain, and if it diets mainly on cruelty and suffering, how can it remain healthy? Change that diet, on purpose, train mentally to refocus the mind, and one nourishes the brain."

Wow, I love that! that is such a great quote.

BookOkie said...

I'm in the middle of this book now and ran across your blog after being inspired to look up quotes from Heschel. I love "Man is a messenger who forgot the message." I'm now also addicted to the Traveler IQ. Nice postings. Thanks!