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an act of vigilant noticing

Sterling Hayden:

Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Billy Hoffman:

Your Time is the most valuable thing that you have. There is nothing more important than how you spend your time.

Alice Gregory:

Learning a place by heart is a luxury rarely afforded to adults, and unless absolutely forced to, one seldom even notices that the ability has been lost.

Surfing, as William Finnegan renders it, is more than just a fun physical activity: it's a way of being in the world, with its own private politics and etiquette and benchmarks of success.

Finnegan is especially capable of coming up with phrases that are at once poetic and concrete. "Waves are not stationary objects in nature like roses or diamonds." They are, instead, at once "the object of your deepest desire and adoration" but also "your adversary, your nemesis, even your mortal enemy." Riding them is "the theoretical solution to an impossibly complex problem."

Surfing, in the most basic of ways, determined for decades where in the world he was at a given time, and with whom he spoke and laughed and ate. How a person spends his free time -- what he chooses to do when he can do anything at all -- is one of the most important things about him. But Barbarian Days is less an ode to independence than a celebration of deliberate constriction, of making choices that determine what you think about and who you know. Surfing demands intuition and familiarity with one's surroundings but it does not allow for the perceptive disregard that so often accompanies deep knowledge. As Finnegan demonstrates, surfing, like good writing, is an act of vigilant noticing.

Julian Schnabel:

Being in the water alone, surfing, sharpens a particular kind of concentration, an ability to agree with the ocean, to react with a force that is larger than you are.

Roger Ebert:

I love to wander lonely streets in unknown cities. To find a cafe and order a coffee and think to myself -- here I am, known to no one, drinking my coffee and reading my paper. To sit somewhere just barely out of the rain, and declare that my fortress.

David Foster Wallace:

Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you've never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it's like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.

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