4.29.2019


Quentin Bell’s biography told the story of his aunt, who happened to be the famous writer Virginia Woolf. But it was a family story really, about a woman with psychotic episodes, her husband’s coping with this, her sister’s distress. It had, as I said, the smell of a household. It was not about the sentences in Virginia Woolf’s books. The Wharton biography, though more a “literary” biography, dealt with status, not with the writer’s private heart. What do I mean by “private heart”? It’s probably impossible to define, but it’s not what the writer does—breakfast, schedule, social outings—but what the writer is. The secret contemplative self. An inner recess wherein insights occur. This writer’s self is perhaps coextensive with one of the writer’s sentences. It seems to me that more can be found about a writer in any single sentence in a work of fiction, say, than in five or ten full-scale biographies. Or interviews!
-Cynthia Ozick,  "The Art of Fiction No. 95," The Paris Review

11.21.2017

"It could be said, even here, that what remains of the self
Unwinds into a vanishing light, and thins like dust, and heads
To a place where knowing and nothing pass into each other, and through;
That it moves, unwinding still, beyond the vault of brightness ended,
And continues to a place which may never be found, where the unsayable,
Finally, once more is uttered, but lightly, quickly, like random rain
That passes in sleep, that one imagines passes in sleep.
What remains of the self unwinds and unwinds, for none
Of the boundaries holds – neither the shapeless one between us,
Nor the one that falls between your body and your voice. Joseph,
Dear Joseph, those sudden reminders of your having been – the places
And times whose greatest life was the one you gave them – now appear
Like ghosts in your wake. What remains of the self unwinds
Beyond us, for whom time is only a measure of meanwhile
And the future no more than et cetera et cetera ... but fast and forever"
-Mark Strand, "In Memory of Joseph Brodsky"

5.09.2017

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
   O, none, unless this miracle have might,
   That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Sonnet 65 by William Shakespeare

5.08.2017

"It’s the fact that once again you were joyfully facing the harsh limitations of reality, admitting that it all had to be taken and turned into a story of some kind. Otherwise, it would just be one more expression of precise discontent. And expressions of discontent—you think in the car, sitting in front of your own house now—no matter how beautiful, never solve the riddle of the world, or bring the banality of sequential reality to a location of deeper grace."
-David Means, "Two Ruminations on a Homeless Brother"

5.04.2017


Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," Verse 1, by read by Virginia Mae Schmitt for Jennifer Crandall's project "Whitman, Alabama." I love this so much.