Like many writers I have a notebook that I carry around for recording observations, quotes, scenes, thoughts, snippets of dialog, attempts at poems, and some of the crazy ideas I get that might someday be the impetus for a writing project. It’s an analog device with two components: a school composition book with sewn binding and a pen clipped to a few of the inside pages. When I’ve filled up one of these volumes I keep it with the others on a shelf. Periodically I go through them looking for anything interesting. Here’s something I found this morning:

30 July 2002 Tuesday 10:10 pm
“And Thanatos, or what we think of as the Greek personification of death, is not really a personification, but a mist or veil or cloud that separates the still living person from life. For the Greeks, who had no word for irreversible death, one did not die; one darkened.”

—Mark Strand
The Weather of Words (2002)
p. 6

I don’t know what possessed me to record this quote. I also don’t remember the book it is from. I have absolutely no memory of where I was when I wrote it down or what I was thinking at the time. But I still like it. Makes me think of ghosts haunting the Greek world, and that those ghosts were welcomed by the Greeks not as the personification of corpses, but as the lingering aura of friends and relatives. It’s a terrific image and a potent conditional reality. That’s the beauty of a notebook like this. The quote obviously meant something to me then and still stirs something in me now. If I didn’t have the notebook at hand, as I do, it would have completely slipped out of my life.
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