28 May 2007

For Jamie--

"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with summer."

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

25 May 2007

when the passing days finally acknowledge me

Will I awake, half sunk into summer, fingering new lines etched into my skin by nights and days that have passed me, unremembering?

I'm writing this now in the maytime heat - my writing wrinkling beneath the moisture of my hand, the words quivering as I rest the journal on the vibrating steering wheel, my foot squeezing hard the break, hoping for another red light on Division Street so--

I can finish this sentence.

I cannot live without thought, but I am, rising and dressing and driving and eating beneath a thick film of necessity and reaction. There is so much today and especially these days that I want to feel - but my nerves are all worn off, threadbare velvet, no longer plush or soft to the touch. My words have no grip, no conviction, they slide off the present--

And it rolls away as the odometer climbs and the gas needle sinks and I sometimes have thoughts while I am driving about how blue the sky is, or the space between the high clouds, or how all the leaves have opened now and hang down over the road verdant and spread, even on the hesitant oaks. My hand swills the humid air, fingers spread or closed, reaching out the open window to touch the day.

I am seeing this all through the sepia-tint of the hideous glasses I purchased last week. All of this yellowing with passing, the sunlight falling at the particular angle which becomes the things that have already ended.

11 May 2007

"To become a writer, patience and toil are not enough: we must first feel compelled to escape crowds, company, the stuff of ordinary, everyday life, and shut ourselves up in a room.

"We wish for patience and hope so that we can create a deep world in our writing. But the desire to shut oneself up in a room is what pushes us into action. The precursor of this sort of independent writer – who reads his books to his heart's content, and who, by listening only to the voice of his own conscience, disputes with other's words, who, by entering into conversation with his books develops his own thoughts, and his own world – was most certainly Montaigne, in the earliest days of modern literature. Montaigne was a writer to whom my father returned often, a writer he recommended to me. I would like to see myself as belonging to the tradition of writers who – wherever they are in the world, in the East or in the West – cut themselves off from society, and shut themselves up with their books in their room. The starting point of true literature is the man who shuts himself up in his room with his books.

"But once we shut ourselves away, we soon discover that we are not as alone as we thought. We are in the company of the words of those who came before us, of other people's stories, other people's books, other people's words, the thing we call tradition. I believe literature to be the most valuable hoard that humanity has gathered in its quest to understand itself. Societies, tribes, and peoples grow more intelligent, richer, and more advanced as they pay attention to the troubled words of their authors, and, as we all know, the burning of books and the denigration of writers are both signals that dark and improvident times are upon us. But literature is never just a national concern. The writer who shuts himself up in a room and first goes on a journey inside himself will, over the years, discover literature's eternal rule: he must have the artistry to tell his own stories as if they were other people's stories, and to tell other people's stories as if they were his own, for this is what literature is. But we must first travel through other people's stories and books."

Orhan Pamuk