Attempts to flee from oneself

on April 26, 2010 with 0 comments » |

Paul Auster in an interview for Believer Magazine (talking with the author, Jonatham Lethem) about writing:
PA: You try to surprise yourself. You want to go against what you've done before. You want to burn up and destroy all your previous work; you want to reinvent yourself with every project.Once you fall into habits, I think, you're dead as an artist. You have to challenge yourself and never rest on your laurels, never think about what you've done in the past. Just say, that's done, now I'm tackling something else. It's certain that the world's large enough and interesting enough to take a different approach each time you sit down to write about it.


JL: Anyway, your voice is going to be helplessly your own. And so the books will be united despite your attempts to ignore your own earlier work.


PA: Exactly, because all your attempts to flee from yourself are useless. All you discover is yourself and your old obsessions. All the maniacal repetitions of how you think. But you try. And I think there's some dignity in that attempt.


JL: I'm laughing, because now, as I'm about to begin a new novel at last, the only thing I'm certain of are the exclusions, the things I'll refuse to do again.

...

PA: Well, that's good. When you become aware of what your limits have been so far, then you;re able to expand them. And every artist has limits. No one can do everything. It's impossible. What's beautiful about art is that it circumscribes a space, a physical and mental space. If you try to put the entire world into every page you turn out chaos. Art is about eliminating almost everything in order to focus on the thing that you need to talk about.
and a little later:
PA: "I think the glory of the novel is that you're open to everything and anything that exists or has existed in the world. I don't have any proscriptions. I don't say: "This is not allowed because..."
What is said about the process of writing above is true of the way we ought to lead our lives in general too, I think.

I read the above interview with Auster and many other great interviews with writers in The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers in January and February this year. In addition to Paul Auster, I read interviews with John Banville, Haruki Murakami, Grace Paley, George Saunders, Marilynne Robinson, Ian McEwan, Tobias Wolff, and part of the interview with Joan Didion. The book is a delightful treasure trove and different of 24 interviews, with the interviewer also being a writer, sometimes a now famous name like Zadie Smith (who interviews McEwan). Definitely a book worth buying! (I am a big fan of Paris Review's collections of interviews with authors and poets and I'd put this collection right up there with those books.)

While readng something else, I read about Hölderlin calling the writing of poetry as a "fundamental naming of the gods." Intrigued, I had to look up the quote.

"The writing of poetry is the fundamental naming of the gods. But the poetic word only acquires its power of naming, when the gods themselves bring us to language." - Hölderlin
One more excerpt from what Holderlin wrote:
"And therefore has language, most dangerous of possessions, been given to man, so that creating, destroying, and perishing and returning to the everliving, to the mistress and mother, he may affirm what he is--that he has inherited, learned from thee, thy most divine possession, all-preserving love."
Interestingly, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger delivered a seminar lecture in 1936 titled "Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry." (Published in Existence and Being, 270–291, 1949) in which he writes:
"Poetry is the inaugural naming of being and of the essence of all things - not just any speech...but that particular kind which for the first time brings into the open all that we then discuss and deal with in everyday language. Hence poetry never takes language as a raw material ready to hand, rather it is poetry which first makes language possible. Poetry is the primitive language of a historical people."
Lovely excerpt!

Amazing how her mind works! (if this can be called "working") - (Link via Deepak Iyer):

Palin: Obama's handling of Iceland volcano helps terrorists
In a speech to the national convention of tea-party lawyers Sarah Palin criticized Obama for his handling of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull. She also suggested that volcanoes if they found there way into the hands of terrorist or rogue states could be a serious national security issue.
 
US does not have sole right to have kooky people as our "leaders". Consider this article: (link via Amit Varma)

Iran cleric: Promiscuous women cause quakes 
A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes. 

And compare above headlines with this headline from the satire/humor magazine, The Onion. Which one is more outrageous and WTF?!


Who needs The Onion when we have kooks like Palin and religious wingnuts!

On hiatus

on April 20, 2010 with 0 comments » |

As of November 2009, this blog is closed due to a number of personal reasons.

Update - April 2010: I'm back.. though blogging will be light as I am very busy at work and will only post a few posts every week.