August 12, 2009

A magnificient evanescent dream

Just ran into these lines:

The American nation drives passionately toward comfort. The aim of the frenzied practical life in which it engages is to attain material ease, and the symbols of its paradise are significant... Naturally, in paradise one would not wish to be annoyed by a suspicion that all was a brilliant fake, a magnificient evanescent dream, but rather, to refine upon one's luxurious means of existence. This is where in America the artistic intelligence may enter and play, elaborating, colouring, bedecking, adding splendour to the circumstances of one's comfort. - Gorham B. Munson
For the record, these lines were not written in writing about American life, in general but are from an essay that appeared in The Dial in November 1925 about "The Danadyism of Wallace Stevens" - which can be read, if interested at page 78 of this book, via Google Books! This was an essay published two years after the publication of Wallace Stevens' first ground-breaking book of poems, Harmonium.

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