One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Poet Doesn't Occasionally Slip into the Ridiculous re the Essence of Poetry?

The following is a quote from J. M. Coetzee's essay on Joseph Brodsky, "The Essays of Joseph Brodsky":
    There is thus no doubt that Brodsky in exile remained a powerful presence on the Russian stage. Receptive as his fellow writers are to his innovations, however, all except Rein seem skeptical about the full metaphysical baggage behind them, a metaphysics that makes the poet the voice of an hypostatized Language. Lev Loseff dismisses this "idolization" of language out of hand, attributing it to Brodsky's lack of formal education in linguistics (p. 123).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coetzee's Coetzee in "Summertime"

     What I call my philosophy of teaching is in fact a philosophy of learning. It comes from Plato, modified. Before true learning can occur, I believe, there must be in the student's heart a certain yearning for the truth, a certain fire. The true student burns to know. In the teacher she recognizes, or apprehends, the one who has come closer than herself to the truth. So much does she desire the truth embodied in the teacher that she is prepared to burn her old self up to attain it. For his part, the teacher recognizes and encourages the fire in the student, and responds to it by burning with an intenser light. Thus together the two of them rise to a higher realm. So to speak.


Nice, if untenable. Something only a teacher could wish for.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Letter from Flaubert to George Sand

Sunday night, at eleven o'clock, there was such lovely moonlight along the river and on the snow that I was taken with an itch for movement, and I walked for two hours and a half imagining all sorts of things, pretending that I was travelling in Russia or in Norway.  When the tide came in and cracked the cakes of ice in the Seine and the thin ice which covered the stream, it was, without exaggeration, superb.  Then I thought of you and I missed you.


Via Kindle I'm dipping into their letters (over 300, more Sand than Flaubert) from time to time.  I'm certain my mind has made of this passage more than it is--and yet, over the last week or two, I have kept coming back to this snapshot.  What is it?  The wandering artist/writer pretending he is somewhere else?  The discovery of the fantastic in the natural world? 

The other day I caught myself staring at a chaotic arrangement of woodchips (nature modified by man) on the sidewalk, and I thought of Flaubert.   

Friday, April 22, 2011

On Rhyming

Ran across this in Joseph Brodsky's essay on Marina Tsvetaeva, "Footnote to a Poem."  It's from Marina's poem on the death of Rilke: "Novogodnee" ("New Year's Greetings").

Rainer, are you pleased with new rhymes?
For, properly interpreting the word
"Rhyme," what--if not a whole row of new
Rhymes--is Death?


Had to have something for the inaugural entry.  This is as good as it gets.