February 9, 2019

On Creative Longevity

It seems that two qualities are necessary if a great artist is to remain creative to the end of a long life; he must on the one hand retain an abnormally keen awareness of life, he must never grow complacent, never be content with life, must always demand the impossible and when he cannot have it, must despair. The burden of the mystery must be with him day and night. […]

[The artist] must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy. Many lesser poets have it only in their youth; some even of the greatest lose it in middle life. Wordsworth lost the courage to despair and with it his poetic power. But more often the dynamic tensions are so powerful that they destroy the man before he reaches maturity.

–Humphrey Trevelyan, from his introduction to the 1949 edition of Goethe’s autobiography, Truth and Fantasy from My Life

(via and via)

commonplace
February 7, 2019

unfinished

This may be the first week I finish only one book, if that. In fact, this may be a zero books week.

I’m pushing slowly through several longer things while trying to get to the end of a few shorter ones. But I’ve been fighting a cold, and I haven’t been able to focus on much more than my binge-rewatch of The Wire.

February 5, 2019

Lew Welch:

Guard the Mysteries!
Constantly reveal them!

commonplace
February 4, 2019

Its some kynd of thing it aint us but yet its in us. Its looking out thru our eye hoals. May be you dont take no noatis of it only some times. Say you get woak up suddn in the middl of the nite. 1 minim youre a sleap and the nex youre on your feet with a spear in your han. Wel it werent you put that spear in your han it wer that other thing whats looking out thru your eye hoals. It aint you nor it dont even know your name. Its in us lorn and loan and sheltering how it can.

—Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

SA4QE

commonplace SA4QE
February 4, 2019

Alone and blind and endlessly voyaging I think constantly of fidelity. Fidelity is a matter of perception; nobody is unfaithful to the sea or to mountains or to death: once recognized they fill the heart. In love or in terror or in loathing one responds to them with the true self; fidelity is not an act of the will: the soul is compelled by recognitions. Anyone who loves, anyone who perceives the other person fully can only be faithful, can never be unfaithful to the sea and the mountains and the death in that person, so pitiful and heroic is it to be a human being.

—Russell Hoban, The Medusa Frequency (1987)

SA4QE

commonplace SA4QE
February 4, 2019

She sang the song very softly:

I do not like the way you slide,
I do not like your soft inside,
I do not like you lots of ways,
And I could do for many days
Without eggs.

“What did you say, Frances?” asked Father.

“Nothing,” said Frances, spreading jam on another slice of bread.

“Why do you keep eating bread and jam,” asked Father, “when you have a lovely soft-boiled egg?”

“One of the reasons I like bread and jam,” said Frances, “is that it does not slide off your spoon in a funny way.”

—Russell Hoban, Bread & Jam for Frances (1964)

SA4QE

commonplace SA4QE