Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On owning buildings, or not owning them

There must be a way to be human that neither crouches back of the door nor barges in with some overbearing pretension of significance. Anyone can have a world, so to speak, if he or she is willing to lop off little (or big) pieces of the existing one, so as to manage a convenience for the self. "It's himself!" cried the mother in those Irish families of my youth, as said person staggered up the steps, home again.

But this is no story, much as it might entertain, of anyone at all. You must know people in your own life, who don't so much stay put as be there, for all and any to witness. There is no overwhelming claim they make, nothing has to make room for them, nor do they come and go with some shy disclaimer of their significance. Not only can you trust them, but you can not trust them, equally, if it's funny business you have in mind. For lack of any other better word, or way of putting it clearly, they are literally alive and inexorably human, and they have all they seemingly require therefor. It has nothing to do with being hungry or well-fed, all of which is possible for any of us, but how it all then is lived with. -- Robert Creeley

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Do not speak to me of economics; that is merely a question of how we arrange matters between us. -- Laura Riding

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It is good to publish those who cannot find some one to do it. You also have another task, even more significant, to print the works of those who will be of use to purblind souls. We are all Cimmerians, living in some subterranean bog in our souls, and when I glance through a volume, I don’t want to know whether this author cannot otherwise find someone like yourself to bring him out. What is most important is that, whatever age he is, he can be the viaticum for my own nature, and give me enough food so that my own spirit can soar for an afternoon or at least until dusk. In other words, despite the fact that it is very hard for young people, and also the older ones, to get somebody to place their sighs and constellations between boards, what is of imperial worth is what they can do for others. Otherwise, you are bringing out books by Narcissus. There is already too much self-love in the world. Don’t encourage a man to love himself more than he already does. Do what you can to impress upon him the necessity of caring for somebody else. Every page is either a vision or Circe’s sty. -- Edward Dahlberg (letter to the twenty-nine year old Jonathan Williams, dated September 23, 1958, via John Latta)

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Doing something contrary to what everyone else does is almost as bad as doing something because everyone else does it. -- Fernando Pessoa (from a notebook that never was, tr. Richard Zenith, forthcoming in Poetry)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don,

On that "Pessoa" quote. Which heteronym is speaking?

Kent

Don Share said...

It's Pessoa himself, whom you may consider to be one of the heteronyms.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he considered Fernando Pessoa to be one!

Kent

Lemon Hound said...

Thanks Don,
A bit of a balm.