More specifically concerning: writing
Up to a mist & general laziness, very nice. Spending too much time in writing letters and making notes, which does little use. Have yet to complete summary to my satisfaction and so idle for inspiration.
22.12.01 – Saturday
Sent the last of my applications off yesterday, along with a story to JC and treats for other people. Well, maybe it is a bit overbold to call that little booklet a ‘treat’: more of a glorified holiday card, actually, except, of course, that it has nothing to do with the holidays, red cover notwithstanding. […]
It was the Distance
For no good reason1 I’ve been reading The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (ed. W. Martin, CUP: 2002). It is somewhat refreshing to find books which do not concern Cicero. And it is interesting to step outside the charmed circle of academics and then to peer back in, as though through windows. For one can […]
Shoot the messenger
the character of a historian.
I shall say but little at present of their Learning, which for many Ages hath flourished in all its Branches among them: But their Manner of Writing is very peculiar; being neither from the Left to the Right, like the Europeans; nor from the Right to the Left, like the Arabians; nor from up to […]
de pumilis libellis
…by falsifying him into something monstrously charming and extraordinary they hope to be able to keep him alive forever. — Pär Lagerkvist (2002.47, p. 159) Owing to my best efforts to keep an open mind and my almost miraculous attempts to overcome my aversion for the word ‘snark’ and most people who use it, the […]
I was quite pleased with myself: I managed to trim a ten-paragraph letter down to nine words, excluding salutation. Sadly, neither the grammar nor spelling were all that they should be, and I am pleased no more.
marks of the excellent man.
modesty & the art of pronunciation.
The process of not writing has been a kind of sleep – fitful dormancy. I cannot tell if I am awake again – awake to the habit of writing, of typing, of setting my thoughts someplace other than the impermanent stream of the passing breath – cannot tell if this is not just another middle-of-the-night […]
all the baggage
So I was reading Paul Fussell’s book about travel, Abroad. Of course it’s not just about travel, though he does spend some thirty-odd (or more or less, I’ve returned it to the library and cannot refer to it now) pages lamenting the impossibility of true travel1 in this degraded age of tourism, it’s about literary […]
Our ancestors wrote prose in long, beautiful sentences, convoluted like curls; although we still learn to do it that way in school, we write in short sentences that cut more quickly to the heart of the matter; and no one in the world can free his thinking from the manner in which his time wears […]
Another man speaks satirically of those people who out of restlessness or curiosity embark on long journeys, who keep no diaries and write no descriptions, who carry no notebooks; who go to see things, and who either don’t see them or forget what they have seen; who are only anxious to look at unfamiliar towers […]
paper bullets of the brain
After a while books grow matter of fact like everything else and we always think enviously of the days when they were new and wonderful and strange. That’s a part of existence. We lose our first keen relish for literature just as we lose it for ice-cream and confectionery. The taste grows older, wiser and […]
Adorno laments the writer’s living situation.
on biography (1)
Alexander Theroux. The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2011. After much consideration of this point, I came to the resolution of writing truly, if I wrote at all; of withholding nothing, though some things, from their very nature, could not be spoken of so fully as others. —Elizabeth Gaskell (Life of Charlotte Brontë, […]
Crambe repetita (21)
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
on biography (2)
Hermione Lee. Virginia Woolf. New York: Vintage, 1996. I have little more to say. If my readers find that I have not said enough, I have said too much. I cannot measure or judge of such a character as hers. I cannot map out vices, and virtues, and debateable land. – Elizabeth Gaskell (Life of […]
At Passau the traveller feels that the flowing of the river is a yearning for the sea. That sense of life-to-the-full, that gift of the blood pressure, or of some acid benevolently secreted by the brain, was something I really felt in the alleys and on the river-banks of Passau; or do I just think […]
hours of indolence
…and of course one begins the year with the best of intentions, sweeping through books at a gallant pace, which one’s attempts at scribbling cannot match.
from that other place
If one grows up in Oregon, one hears a lot about William Stafford. Always being the sort of person to avoid what other people are talking about (with no regard for its merit or interest), I never read any of his work until just a few months ago – and I expected to sneer even […]
(8) Finger-prints of any value to the police are seldom found on anybody’s skin. (9) The pupils of many drug-addicts’ eyes are apparently normal. (10) It is impossible to see anything by the flash of an ordinary gun, though it is easy to imagine you have seen things. (11) Not nearly so much can be […]
Now, I say that not only in medicine, but in several more certain arts, there is a good deal of luck. Why should we not attribute the poetic flights which ravish and transport their author out of himself to his good luck, since he himself confesses that they exceed his power and ability, and acknowledges […]
caresses and lullabies
And you have to realize that you cannot hope to console yourself for your grief by writing. You cannot deceive yourself by hoping for caresses and lullabies from your vocation. In my life there have been interminable, desolate empty Sundays in which I have desperately wanted to write something that would console me for my […]
Pieter van der Borcht, engraving of a pelican from Sancti Epiphanii ad Physiologum (1588) Writing, that powerful myth. The highest degree of distinction; how can it happen? How can the eye become progressively sensitive to reading, how can it get into the rhythm, the music; how can it be hurt – as if the light […]
Il y a de certaines choses dont la médiocrité est insupportable : la poésie, la musique, la peinture, le discours public. – La Bruyère (Les Caractères, I.7) * * * Words are not terms, and thus are not like buckets and kegs from which we scoop a content that is there. Words are wellsprings that are found […]
…of this I am sure, that if much writing be a disease, then the best philosophers, both moral and natural, as also the best divines, lawyers, physicians, poets, historians, orators, mathematicians, chemists, and many more have been grievously sick: and Seneca, Pliny, Aristotle, Cicero, Tacitus, Plutarch, Euclid, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, Scotus, […]
Notes on reading Judith Butler as a tonic to Rousseau.
A view of a bridge, in watercolor, ca. 1820. All recollections are like shadows, & all shadows are dark, be the objects that cause them ever so bright. —Emily Foster (Journals, p. 64, ca. May 1822) It is always a little strange to read published journals or diaries. The ones that I’ve encountered – Virginia […]
There is the sense that the book has an argument, that it wants some sort of artist’s statement to illumine its depths. I complained of this, and PF observed that experimental authors tend to fall into two camps – the Nabokovian and the Joycean. The Nabokovian camp will tell you in great detail all the […]
Cropped and edited version of Djuna Barnes’s caricature of Helen Westley. It was happenstance, the purchasing of a copy of Interviews by Djuna Barnes. I was looking for a book about Pushkin and somehow found the Interviews at a local bookstore that happens to be in the same building as my dentist, although I didn’t […]
The conversion of nothing into something is the task of criticism. Literature is the storehouse of these rescued somethings. In discussing literature one has to use, unfortunately, the same language that one uses in discussing experience. But even so, literature is preferable to experience, since it is for the most part the closest one can […]