Jan 27, 2009

we exist as flaws in ancient glass

The sentence fragment "we exist as flaws in ancient glass" will repeat over and over again in John Updike's obituary, thanks to the modern miracle of newswire syndication services. Here's a little bit more context surrounding that fragment, which is from the short story "Harv is Plowing Now," first published in The New Yorker in April of 1966.

Something distant is attracting me. I look up, and the stars in their near clarity press upon my face, bear in upon my guilt and shame with the strange, liquidly strong certainty that, humanly considered, the universe is perfectly transparent: we exist as flaws in ancient glass. And in apprehending this transparence my mind enters a sudden freedom, like insanity; the stars seem to me a roof, the roof of days from which we fall each night and survive, a miracle.