Not magnitude, not lavishness,
But Form—the Site;
Not innovating wilfulness,
But reverence for the Archetype.
I just finished Moby Dick for the second time. A hybrid, genius work way ahead of its time, combining a nonfiction, direct address to the reader and narrative fiction, in short a swirl and swerve that follows Melville’s daemon to tell his tale like no other, which he did. By the end, he’s understandably exhausted. But we have been told in a new, pre-modern archetype.
This painting, by Ava Milner Hamm, is one of my earliest memories, a landscape of country that starts west of Fort Worth. The painting was always in the two houses where I grew up. I have lived with it in sight (or memory) for all of my life. It always tells me I’m home.
Red Pine, Stonehouse and Gary Snyder are mentioned in Jim Harrison’s new trilogy of novellas that was just released, The Ancient Minstrel:
“After attending and giving at least a hundred poetry readings he could remember only one that struck him as a hundred percent genuine and honest. A poet named, simply enough, Red Pine read from an ancient Chinese poet he had translated, called Stonehouse. Red Pine read with quiet integrity just what he translated. Usually after a reading he was in a private snit and needed a drink, but now he walked down and looked at the harbor, his spine still tingling. The other true exception was Gary Snyder. He never wanted Snyder’s readings to end.”
Isn’t it it
Or is it it
Or is it it
It’s it isn’t
A great writer, Jim Harrison. died today at his casita in Patagonia, Arizona.
My spirit is starving.
How can it be fed?
Not by pain in the predictable future
nor the pain in the past
but understanding the invisible flower
within the flower that tells it what is,
the soul of the tree that does the same.
I don’t seem to have a true character
to discover, a man slumped on his desk
dozing at midafternoon… – From Dead Man’s Float
From Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage by the clear-eyed Kurt Vonnegut. Palm Sunday, a moveable feast, was March 20 this year.
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
“Anyway—because we are readers, we don’t have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next—and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis—at any time of night or day.”
“As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.”
“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”
“Be aware of this truth that the people on this earth could be joyous, if only they would live rationally and if they would contribute mutually to each others’ welfare.
“This world is not a vale of sorrows if you will recognize discriminatingly what is truly excellent in it; and if you will avail yourself of it for mutual happiness and well-being. Therefore, let us explain as often as possible, and particularly at the departure of life, that we base our faith on firm foundations, on Truth for putting into action our ideas which do not depend on fables and ideas which Science has long ago proven to be false.”
“I chose cultural anthropology, since it offered the greatest opportunity to write high-minded balderdash.”
“Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
“Trust a crowd to look at the wrong end of a miracle every time.”
“I propose that every person out of work be required to submit a book report before he or she gets his or her welfare check.”
“Bertrand Russell declared that, in case he met God, he would say to Him, “Sir, you did not give us enough information.” I would add to that, “All the same, Sir, I’m not persuaded that we did the best we could with the information we had. Toward the end there, anyway, we had tons of information.”
“A society, on occasion, can be the worst possible describer of mental health.”
“I know at last what I want to be when I grow up. When I grow up I want to be a little boy.”
“Some of you might go out and kill Communists, but that is no longer a fashionable thing to do. And you wouldn’t be killing real Communists anyway. This country has fulfilled more of the requirements of the Communist Manifesto than any avowedly Communist nation ever did. Maybe we’re the Communists.”