Friday, January 15, 2010

31. I am putting some of my favorite songs on an iPod playlist. But when i can listen to them frequently, rather than having to dig them out of desuetude in my collection, will this dim their power for me? Or have the emotions they stand for, already faded; and this renew them instead? Perhaps my poem will not make sense to you now, but it will.

32. I write as the last speaker of a language—or the first.

33. It is unfair to my contemporaries who write, to expect them to jolt me like the best writers of all time; and yet what else can i do? Pretend to be moved when i’m not, and learn to value a pretence?

34. Our language has shed so many of its words, it is in a sort of winter. Like the Earth and its species. The poet, a coelacanth.

35. Maybe it’s enough that you get all your story-need satisfied from television and movies, and it’s beside the point that i think those stories are wrong and pernicious. It’s not like i’ve ever tried to get a job in that story-industry.

36. Without the myth of genius-rediscovery, i still cling to the fiction that nothing written today will survive. Obviously, some of it will.

37. Without leisure, when i do read, it’s like snatching a package of Twinkies at a 7-11, and running out with it under my coat.

38. The same paragraph of a narrative, read at half the speed; read at half the speed again. Like enlarging a photograph.

39. In prose, there are generally many ways of saying what you want, some of which are better than others, but none that is necessarily the best; in poetry, it’s much more the case that there exists a single path through the poem, and everything else not on the path is wrong. But to the reader, poetry & prose alike present a text that seems both arbitrary, and immutable.

40. If i read while music is playing, i don’t hear it; or if i start listening to the music, i don’t understand what i’ve been reading. Reading a text is like playing music from a printed score.

41. If reading is like performing music, there is a skill in readerly-musicianship distinct from the skill of composing texts. This also requires to be taught—and mostly isn’t.

42. A painter who looks at pictures in a museum reads the brushwork with the imagination of fingertips. But a reader who writes, can only reach that level of imagining by hearing a writer reading their own work. The text on the page interposes a layer of opacity that requires more or less effort to interpret. Is this a job for criticism, or for the writer to take into account?

43. Reading a novel by Disraeli. It is natural to see the formality of his style as the equivalent of Regency costume. It is less easy to understand that his reasons might be different from a writer’s of today, because the whole context of that book’s reading remains lost to us. Which happens, also, to what I am about to write…

Found while trying to remember the word kabei... Don Harlow explains the origin of this word.

"The wars of ideas have always been the most fanatical and endlessly prolonged of all wars." --Jacques Barzun

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