“Listening is still the key.”
The idols are down. I don’t despair. “Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement…” Run, tumble, swim, ride a bicycle. Few qualify as athletes. Fewer as Olympians.
“The idea that the intellect is somehow alien to sensuousness, or vice versa, is one that I have never been able to connect with. I can accept that it is a prevalent belief, but it seems to me, nonetheless, a false notion. Ezra Pound defines logopaeia as ‘the dance of the intellect among words.’ But elsewhere he changes intellect to intelligence. Logopaeia is the dance of the intelligence among words. I prefer intelligence to intellect here. I think we’re dealing with a phantom, or as Blake would say, a specter. The intellect—as the word is used generally—is a kind of specter, a false imagination, and it binds the majority with exactly the kind of mind-forged manacles that Blake so eloquently described. The intelligence is, I think, much more true, a true relation, a true accounting of what this elusive quality is. I think intelligence has a kind of range of sense and allows us to contemplate the coexistence of the conceptual aspect of thought and the emotional aspect of thought as ideally wedded, troth-plight, and the circumstances in which this troth-plight can be effected are to be found in the medium of language itself. ”
I don’t write to be liked, I don’t write for acceptance. Countering a steady diet of rejection, I remind myself of this:
“It is not surprising therefore that the most representative literature of our times is light, easy literature, which, without any sense of shame, sets out to be—as its primary and almost exclusive objective—entertaining. But let’s be clear: I am not in any way condemning the authors of this entertainment literature because, notwithstanding the levity of their texts, they include some really talented writers. If today it is rare to see literary adventures as daring as those of Joyce, Woolf, Rilke or Borges, it is not just down to the writers. For the culture in which we live does not favour, but rather discourages, the indefatigable efforts that produce works that require of the readers an intellectual concentration almost as great as that of their writers. Today’s readers require easy books that entertain them and this demand creates a pressure that becomes a powerful incentive to writers.”
This, from Mario Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture, a highly sobering, indispensable discourse on the current state of arts and letters.
Though why not aim high? And especially having read Joyce, Woolf, Rilke, Borges—why not aspire to join their ranks? To match what you admire?
So much talent today, effectively homogeneous: “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”
Believe. Go alone. They’re hardly critics, if all they express is opinion. A critical response must, at the least, situate the work in question. Reviewers—but who cares, except the vastly impressionable consumer?
Last word, Truman Capote: “…I’ll give you fifty dollars if you produced a writer who can honestly say he was ever helped by the prissy carpings and condescensions of reviewers.”
“I love the privileges of form.”
“I have work to do, and I am afraid not to do it.”