“The other two cannot make money fortune telling. This is because they only tell the truth, and the truth is not what people want to hear. It is a bad thing and it troubles people, so they do not come back.” ~ Neil Gaiman, from American Gods

Palmistry (ca. 1850-1899)

“Girls with poison necklaces
to save themselves from torture.
Just as women wear amulets
which hold their rolled up fortunes
transcribed on ola leaf.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from “Buried”

Sunday afternoon, sunny, and mild, 66 degrees.

Not a whole lot to say today, so something a big different.

The desire to predict and know the future is as old as human history. The ancient Assyrians, among many civilizations, consulted their mystics before battle. The Romans revered their astrologers. The oracles of the ancient Greeks relayed the words of the gods. Soothsayers, prophets, augurs, astrologists, palm-readers, pyromancers, phrenologists, tarot readers, clairvoyants, and fortune-tellers—the categories are near endless, and people have claimed to divine the future from peering into everything from animal entrails to urine.

Regardless, whether you believe or scorn, the idea of fate features prominently in poetry and fiction, and in this post, I’m featuring the words some of my favorite authors and poets: Neil Gaiman, Michael Ondaatje, and Louise Glück.

Enjoy.


Theory of Memory

Long, long ago, before I was a tormented artist, afflicted with longing yet
incapable of forming durable attachments, long before this, I was a glorious
ruler uniting all of a divided country—so I was told by the fortune-teller
who examined my palm. Great things, she said, are ahead of you, or perhaps
behind you; it is difficult to be sure. And yet, she added, what is the difference?
Right now you are a child holding hands with a fortune-teller. All the
rest is hypothesis and dream.

~ Louise Glück


Music by Diana Krall, “Simple Twist of Fate”

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