Monday, April 27, 2015

From Propertius to Imrich

The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.

Paul Auster visited Yale at the end of March for the Schlesinger Visiting Writer Series. They asked him a few questions.

Q: Yale is teeming with aspiring writers. Is there any golden advice that you would like to give them?

A: Don’t do it. You are asking for a life of penury, solitude, and a kind of invisibility in the world. It’s almost like taking orders in a religious sect. Writing is a disease, it’s not anything more than that. If a young person says, “You are right, it would be a stupid thing to do,” then that person shouldn’t be a writer. If a young person says, “I don’t agree with you, I will do it anyway,” alright, good luck! But you’ll have to figure it out on your own, because everyone’s path is different.

Author Jonathan Rogers was passed up by Senior Ms. America in last April's Music City Half-Marathon. It proved transformative.
Here in my forties I have gained wisdom from running that I never gained from books. To wit: I have learned never to ask, “Can I run 13.1 miles?” (the answer is probably no) but only to ask “Can I run to the next telephone pole” (the answer is probably yes). To apply this principle to my line of work, people don’t write books: they write sentences.
Mark Bertrand writes about a new favorite author and the novel, Scandal, in which a Catholic novelist and public intellectual discovers he has an identical, evil double of himself. This other man is encouraging the community to believe the moral novelist is a flaming hypocrite. "The hunt for his doppelgänger," Bertrand explains, "draws him into an underworld — actually, that’s not quite right: the quest has more to do with realizing that this world is the underworld."

This appears to be the kind of thing The Shadow claimed to know: the evil that lurks in every man's heart.

“With a single poem, which says that her beloved Anactoria is more valuable than the splendor of any cavalry, infantry, or fleet, she created a tradition of ‘love-not-war’ lyrics whose future stretches from Propertius to Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Bruce Springsteen. As the definitive ur-voice of lyric ecstasy, she is so consequential that poets of every generation, from Catullus to Sylvia Plath and Anne Carson, have used her to define their aesthetic manifestos: among the ancients, only Homer can claim an instrumental role in literary history equivalent to Sappho’s.” New York Review of Books

“No writer wants to own the label ‘confessional’ anymore. It’s an epithet, with the same tenor as ‘hipster’ or ‘artisanal': something for privileged narcissists who can’t see any of their own silliness. … And yet, the practice has deeply ancient, religious roots. Bruenig notes that it was designed not just to let the person who is confessing spill his or her guts, but also a sort of collective anecdote.” Pacific Standard 

“For centuries, if what you had written was going to be shown to others, it would have to be placed in a library, usually a church library. And since the only way anyone would know that a new piece of literature had been written was if the writer personally put the word around, there would usually be some kind of social connection between writer and readers.” New York Review of Books

For the Bard's birthday, "ten plays, quickly resolved through texts."

We know about his science, his politics, his philosophy – what else is there to know about Albert Einstein? Not least: his sense of humor... Joking Albert