February 24, 2013

"No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart."

That's today's "Gatsby" sentence.

Amount/can challenge/what. That's the subject/predicate/object. The most important word is heart. The heart is modified by ghostly. It's a man's ghostly heart which is a storehouse — a storehouse invulnerable to new things. New things come in the form of the opposite of stored-up ghostliness:  fire and freshness.

A ghost is the opposite of a living person. What is perceived here is the impossibility of living. (The impossibility of living once you have lived.)

23 comments:

ampersand said...

I hope they remake The Carpetbaggers. That book is eminently quotable.

ricpic said...

No Act Twos? Baloney.

rhhardin said...

A ghost is the opposite of a living person.

There are no spiritless ghosts.

traditionalguy said...

But if the heart can continue to store up new fire and freshness without losing the ghostly past memories then all that is required is a will and an an analysis. New wine can be indeed be put into old wine skins if a man wills it.

Laziness is no excuse.

Dante said...

Is a man's heart ghostly? Or are there more than one kind of heart. The lustful heart, the cheerful heart, and the ghostly heart.

And what does it mean to challenge? Is it the long term battle over the life, or constantly that way?

William said...

By ghostly I think Fitzgerald meant that the heart of Gatsby was haunted by the ghost of his love affair with Daisy. The ashes of that memory extinguished the fire and freshness of the passing flappers. All those exposed thighs reminded him of the pure lost lilies.

Dante said...

@William. That's it!

The whole writing in the abstract about "a man," seems like it is reaching for something more. Like "Under circumstances X, Y, Z," a man will store up "ghostly" images, and it isn't clear at all it's meant to be applied to "love," but anything. In fact, the way it is written, it almost sounds like eventually, inevitably, the "ghostly heart" always wins out in every man.

The way you put it makes a lot of sense, but out of context, I would never have come to that conclusion.

I suppose in 20's day high society, they lauded unrequited love.

Today we call those people stalkers, or maybe that's just the low class version of it.

edutcher said...

Sounds like he's channeling Joseph Conrad.

Or maybe an older James Jones. Old soldiers.

In any case, very evocative; this was a good one, Madame.

kentuckyliz said...

I like today's sentence.

It sounds like something Jesus would say from the Cross, right before he indicates that he is the cure.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Aye, Pistorius.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Aye, Pistorius.

Leslie Graves said...

I had the same question as Dante @9:42.

Also...if I were the mother of the person who said that, I'd say, "Well, you feel that way now but you won't always feel that way."


betamax3000 said...

Removed from context, the sentence was hung like meat from a chained hook inside the barn. Winter Wisconsin air blew through the well-worn slats, rippling and fluttering the sentence's nouns of 'freshness' and 'fire'. Walking slowly around the sentence Naked Ed Gein Robot studied it with a quizzical stare. 'How best to dissect this sentence' he wondered to himself, goose bumps raising upon his arms.

betamax3000 said...

"I could cut between the subject and the predicate, perhaps," he said to himself, selecting an appropriate saw.

betamax3000 said...

Of course, one had to be careful when dissecting a sentence: a few misplaced cuts and all the life would bleed out of it quickly: there would not be enough time to savor the moment.

betamax3000 said...

Often it was best to slice away any dangling participles first. Practically painless.

betamax3000 said...

Done correctly, one could remove particularly enticing parts of the sentence and use them for a myriad of other purposes, like decorating a chair or fashioning a memorable lamp shade.

betamax3000 said...

Late in the evenings he would often exhume other sentences buried long ago in forgotten books. Sometimes he would only take a conjunction from the sentence and leave the rest undisturbed,

betamax3000 said...

Naked Ed Gein Robot kept parts from other sentences in burlap sacks and shoe-boxes around the house: they were good memories. Occasionally he would pull out a phrase or a clause and remember the precise moment when he removed it from the sentence.

betamax3000 said...

A phrase would begin to beat in his ears with a sort of heady excitement: 'There are only the dissected, the dissectors, the busy, and the cliched.'"

betamax3000 said...

Verbs were the most satisfying part of the sentence to dissect. Naked Ed Gein Robot would saw and scrape off any past-tense gristle so that it remained always in the Present.

betamax3000 said...

Inside the barn the sentence hung motionless and limp from the hook. "I will wear one of its adjectives over my face and dance in the moonlight," Ed said to himself, nodding at the sentence with appreciation.

betamax3000 said...

"Thanks to the Writer, when I had the sentence's adjectives upon my face I could see the world through new eyes," Naked Ed Gein Robot would later remark, "provided that I aligned the eye-holes."