September 22, 2010

A presumptuous taming of reality

Heard this excerpt from John Updike's memoir, Self-Consciousness on an old interview with Terry Gross (No transcript but there is a link to that interview from 1989 at this page on NPR, which is from when Updike died in Jan 2009.)

Writing is my sole remaining vice. It is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable. That we age and leave behind this litter of dead, unrecoverable selves is both unbearable and the commonest thing in the world -- it happens to everybody. In the morning light one can write breezily, without the slightest acceleration of one’s pulse, about what one cannot contemplate in the dark without turning in panic to God. In the dark one truly feels that immense sliding, that turning of the vast earth into darkness and eternal cold, taking with it all the furniture and scenery and the bright distractions and warm touches, of our lives. Even the barest earthly facts are unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death. Writing, in making the world light -- in codifying, distorting, prettifying, verbalizing it -- approaches blasphemy.

Been a fan of Updike's fiction from the first time I read it in 1995 and continue to be wow-ed by how he puts together sentences.

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