A presumptuous taming of reality

on September 22, 2010 with 0 comments » | ,

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.

Betraying the existence of hope

on September 3, 2010 with 0 comments » | ,


I imagine the writing of a poem, in whatever mode, still betrays the existence of hope, which is why poetry is more and more chary of the conscious mind in our age." - W. S. Merwin (Notes for a Preface)

Maybe the above quote explains my reading poetry a lot the the last couple of years. It is like I am searching for something - sifting through the words of great poets and trying to find meaning. It is not obvious to me why I do it but it is like being in the woods, picking up acorns, biting into them, kinda liking the taste but not really getting a full understanding of the complex tastes, throwing them away, then again sifting through the leaves that clutter the forest landscape, picking up acorns again, half-digesting what they have to offer.... the cycle continues. I remain unsatisfied and restless, lost in a forest I suddenly do not recognize but try to understand. This inability to understand fully what these 'acorns' (the words of the masters) are trying to say and yet finding myself continually attracted to them is fascinating because I am intrigued by not only what they have to say but also what it means to me! It is like the words flirt with me, giving me some semblance of hope, a small semblance of solace, and occasionally a fleeting sense of joy... but then they are inadequate in really explaining my fascination with them. The restlessness that is the underlying theme of life continues unabated and I forage again..and again..and again.. looking to get beyond the inadequacy of the words and their ephemeral delight. I recently wrote two poems too trying to capture this feeling... but ironically, these half-baked attempts at poetry are inadequate in capturing what I wanted to say and hence are best left unlinked to here.