More specifically concerning: writing
16 March 2001, around 14.54.
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
22 December 2001, around 14.07.
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
28 October 2002, around 17.09.
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
5 August 2003, around 8.07.
1 December 2003, around 9.29.
the character of a historian.
16 January 2004, around 8.55.
de pumilis libellis
20 January 2004, around 19.16.
…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 […]
26 March 2004, around 9.18.
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.
16 May 2004, around 8.46.
marks of the excellent man.
11 June 2004, around 18.27.
modesty & the art of pronunciation.
3 December 2004, around 11.20.
6 September 2007, around 10.12.
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
25 March 2008, around 17.38.
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 […]
30 March 2008, around 5.30.
Robert Musil gets twisted up.
2 May 2008, around 6.00.
on fashion and the happy traveller…
paper bullets of the brain
3 September 2011, around 8.04.
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 […]
14 November 2011, around 14.43.
Adorno laments the writer’s living situation.
on biography (1)
15 November 2011, around 6.12.
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)
2 January 2012, around 14.09.
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, ‘Democritus to the Reader’.
on biography (2)
9 February 2012, around 11.41.
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 Charlotte […]
26 November 2012, around 6.15.
facing the void…
hours of indolence
23 January 2013, around 18.56.
…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.
11 March 2013, around 19.44.
from that other place
17 January 2014, around 20.58.
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 […]
20 January 2014, around 15.10.
(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 […]
26 June 2015, around 13.22.
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 […]
16 October 2015, around 6.21.
anachronism Well I wot that when I heare some give themselves to dwell on the phrase of my Essayes, I would rather have them hold their peace: They doe not so much raise the words as depresse the sense; so much the more sharply by how much more obliquely. Yet am I deceived if some […]
caresses and lullabies
3 January 2016, around 13.12.
Natalia Ginzburg on vocations.
25 February 2016, around 13.34.
intellectual pelicans and plucked chickens…
9 November 2016, around 18.41.
Meaning and mediocrity.
25 November 2016, around 13.05.
This a juxtaposition of three quotations about writing, practicality, and danger from Margaret Cavendish, Hegel, and Simone Weil.
6 March 2017, around 5.19.
Notes on reading Judith Butler as a tonic to Rousseau.
29 February 2020, around 5.02.
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 […]
31 May 2020, around 15.23.
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 […]
18 June 2020, around 5.08.
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 […]
1 June 2021, around 14.05.
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 […]
to the swift
31 August 2021, around 5.49.
This is a quotation from a writing manual about the tangled skein of thought, buttressed by two images of winding yarn.
5 January 2022, around 4.52.
…for writers all, both great and small, are habitual sinners against the light. —Ambrose Bierce, Write It Right In an effort to pay more attention to my work and to think more clearly about composition as such, I have been reading books on writing, which strike me (sitting outside the congregation) as banners of a […]
properly instructive (3)
28 February 2022, around 13.37.
How to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich.
game trails and cow paths
31 August 2022, around 5.21.
Everything I set down has a source in prior song or the written record. Some poets don’t want to read first; some of us want to give the stories we know a longer life […] —Stephanie Burt (‘(frag. 612)’, After Callimachus, p. 79). Shortly after becoming acquainted with the dog, then a black puppy of […]
22 November 2022, around 7.45.
‘Non mehercules ieiuna esse et arida volo, quae de rebus tam magnis dicentur; neque enim philosophia ingenio renuntiat. Multum tamen operae inpendi verbis non oportet.’ —Seneca, Epistulae Morales, 75.3
11 January 2023, around 11.45.
‘His desire for a career as a man of letters was not matched by his ability as an editor or as a writer of verse or prose’ —Dorothy Thompson, The Dignity of Chartism