May 26, 2012


All around him, there are spies. 
Some of them are detached observers, 
like glass surfaces and still pools; 
others, such as coats in store windows, 
are prejudiced witnesses, lynchers at heart; 
others, again (running water, storms), 
are hysterical to the point of insanity, 
have a distorted opinion of him, 
and grotesquely misinterpret his actions. 
He must be always on his guard 
and devote every minute and 
module of life to the decoding 
of the undulation of things. 
The very air he exhales is 
indexed and filed away.

— Vladimir Nabokov, short story "Symbols and Signs," which I re-read after reading Lorrie Moore's short story "Referential" (New Yorker, May 28, 2012, issue)

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