In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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“We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others… But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together. I know that the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started. But with Catherine there was almost no difference in the night except that it was an even better time. If people bring so much courage to the world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
Editorial Intern Tess Steele
Excerpt from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
My first connection to smell was the smell of holy water and sacrament, the second was the smell of my mother’s Buddhist temple. Fragrance has always been next to holiness to me, in different ways — my casual visits to Churches and my hours in temples. I thought my nose was broken everywhere else: I couldn’t smell food, it held no memory, but I could divine the smell of Gods. They smelled to me like incense and still water.
Historically, this goes against the grain of what God smells like to his number one fan club, monks. For monks, it was shit that meant sanctity; filth was the fragrance of holiness, the spiritual symbol of suffering. A declaration of physical filth corresponded to moral cleanliness, so holy men radiated poo with holy force. If they didn’t smell like shit, they smelled close to it — they smelled like musk, civet from animal testes. Musk was so popular that in Imperial Rome in the fourth century that Saint Jerome restricted his flock from wearing it. The symbolism between musk and righteousness continued on for centuries, stretching different countries and touching everyone from kings to anarchists. When the French Revolution bloomed, the Muscadins adopted it with glorious force — giving them their nickname, translation: “wearing musk perfume.”
Editorial Intern Aviva Majerczyk
Excerpt from Perfume, Power, and God by Arabelle Sicardi