The gyre’s memory is stuff that we’ve forgotten

The tidal wave, observed, collapses into tiny particles, each one containing a story: a mobile phone, ringing deep inside a mountain of sludge and debris; a ring of soldiers, bowing to a body they’ve flagged; a medical worker clad in full radiation hazmat, wanding a bare-faced baby who is squirming in his mother’s arms; a line of toddlers, waiting quietly for their turn to be tested. These images, a minuscule few representing the inconceivable many, eddy and grow old, degrading with each orbit around the gyre, slowly breaking down into razor-sharp fragments and brightly colored shards. Like plastic confetti, they’re drawn into the gyre’s becalmed center, the garbage patch of history and time. The gyre’s memory is all the stuff that we’ve forgotten.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

The proof of a book’s truth

In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument, which he offers to the reader to permit him to discern what, without the book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. The reader’s recognition in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its truth. —Marcel Proust, Le temps retrouvé

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Impermanence

…when I heard it again at my old Jiko’s temple, I asked her about it. She told me it’s called the Maka Hanya Haramita Shingyo,69 which means something like the Great Most Excellent Wisdom Heart Sutra. The only part I remember goes like this: Shiki fu i ku, ku fu i shiki.70 It’s pretty abstract. Old Jiko tried to explain it to me, and I don’t know if I understood it correctly or not, but I think it means that nothing in the world is solid or real, because nothing is permanent, and all things—including trees and animals and pebbles and mountains and rivers and even me and you—are just kind of flowing through for the time being.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Now and then

If you’ve ever tried to keep a diary, then you’ll know that the problem of trying to write about the past really starts in the present: No matter how fast you write, you’re always stuck in the then and you can never catch up to what’s happening now, which means that now is pretty much doomed to extinction. It’s hopeless, really. Not that now is ever all that interesting. Now is usually just me, sitting in some dumpy maid café or on a stone bench at a temple on the way to school, moving a pen back and forth a hundred billion times across a page, trying to catch up with myself.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki