TonyH's search for clarity 2016
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I just realised tomorrow is Christmas Eve and my thoughts turned to a new year and a thread and was glad to find we have a 2016 club Club Read (thanks). Merry Christmas all and a Happy New Year of reading to you and one of peace wished to all.
Welcome to my 2016 thread, hopefully it is going to be a warm place for me to consider what I'm reading and respond to other's response. Since I started these threads I've tried to respond with my reactions to reading in the main, no aiming at formal review in a way. I'm confirmed in this by reading Tolstoy's 'what is art' in the last year, which leads me to focus on my feelings and those of the writer, and their characters, of course other things may have to be considered on that path.
My 2015 thread is here
Before expanding this post I've entered posts 4,5 & 6 - right now I feel that has been fruitful for me, it'll change further, but perhaps I have waxed on too much and could have done that to just myself, for all it ay be getting me somewhere.
I'll try to list my film/tv/theatre likes too, and write on them when I can. I may pare back the article posting a bit though.
best wishes at Christmas time and for us all to have a happy and more peaceful new year.
Completed works 2016:
~ The Kittens' Wedding by Olivia Gwyne
~ The Labyrinth by Edwin Muir (8-10/1/16) -- Comments here
~ An Autobiography by Edwin Muir (jan - 10/2/16) Kindle ed. - comments here
~ The Two Gentlemen of Verona (The Oxford Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare ed. Roger Warren Kindle ed.
~ Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe Kindle ed. -- Comments
~ The Orchid Boat by Lee Harwood Kindle ed. (20/3/16) -- Comments here
~ True Grit by Charles Portis (23?/3/16 -31/3/16) -- Comments
~ The long black veil: a notebook 1970-72 by Lee Harwood in Lee Harwood Selected Poems -- Comments here
~ A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud in Arthur Rimbaud Collected Poems trans. Martin Sorrell ( -12/4/16) -- Comments here
~ Briggflatts by Basil Bunting ( - 27/4/16) -- Comments here
~ Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud in Arthur Rimbaud Collected Poems trans. Martin Sorrell ( - 2/5/16) -- Comments here
~ Wine Tales by Richard Caddel and Lee Harwood (borrowed)
~ primitive cartography by Paul Summers ( - 15/5/16) -- Comments
~ Symbolism by Charles Chadwick ( - 20/5/16) -- Comments
~ Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki ( - 29/5/16 - ) Kindle ed. -- Comments here
~ A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century by Jerome Charyn ( - 7/6/16) Comments here
~ Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell ( - 18/6/16) Kindle ed.
~ Meanwhile, Trees by Mark Waldron ( - 29/6/16) kindle ed.
~ Rimbaud by Graham Robb ( - 13/7/16)
~ The Mystical Theology of St. Denis in The Cloud of Unknowing (27/8/16)
~ Julian of Norwich: Counsellor for our Age by Brian Thorne (27/8/16)
~ The After Party by Jana Prikryl Kindle ed.
~ My Years with Apu: A memoir by Satyajit Ray Kindle ed.
~ Play All: A bingewatcher's notebook by Clive James Kindle ed.
~ Messenger of the Heart: The book of Angelus Silesius with observations by the ancient zen masters translated by Frederick Franck Kindle ed.
~ (the introduction to Blake and Tradition by Kathleen Raine, available t preview as a kindle book - but far too expensive at the moment to buy and cannot find a loan copy) (25/10/16)
~ All Religions are one by William Blake in William Blake: The complete illuminated books (reread October 2016)
~ There is no Natural Religion by William Blake in William Blake: the complete illuminated books (reread October 2016)
~ Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake in William Blake: the complete illuminated books (partial reread October-6 November 2016)
~ The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (-6/11/16) Kindle ed.
~ Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky ( Oct? 2015 - 17/11/16)
~ Conjure by Michael Donaghy in Collected Poems, Michael Donaghy Kindle ed.
~ The Book of Thel by William Blake in William Blake: the complete illuminated books
~ Blake and Antiquity by Kathleen Raine, Kindle ed.
~ A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Kindle ed.
~ Conversations with Kafka, second edition by Gustav Janouch
~ Wise Thoughts for Every Day: on God, love, the human spirit and living a good life by Leo Tolstoy, Kindle ed.
* The Terminal d. S. Spielberg
* Bend of the River d. Anthony Mann. Cinema
* The Hunger Games: Catching Fire d. Francis Lawrence
* High Noon d. Fred Zinnemann. Cinema
* Tootsie d. Sydney Pollack
* Contraband d. Baltasar Kormakur
* L'Age d'Or d. Luis Bunuel
* Slow West d. John Maclean
* Calvary d. John Michael McDonagh
* Venus in Fur d. Roman Polanski
* Rio Bravo d. Howard Hawks
* Flight d. Robert Zemeckis
* Miller's Crossing d. Joel Coen
* Cinema Paradiso d. Giuseppe Tornatore
* Shane d. George Stevens. Cinema
* Claire's Knee d. Eric Rohmer
* Johnny Guitar d. Nicholas Ray. Cinema
* Big Girl's Blouse Kate O'Donnell , Theatre
* Life is Immense: Visiting Samuel Menashe d. Pamela Robertson-Pearce
* The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance d. John Ford. Cinema
* Mozart in the Jungle s.1 tv.
* Cast Away d. Robert Zemeckis
* The Big Lebowski d. Joel Coen (and Ethan, uncredited)
* Surviving Summer d. Nancy Bardawil
* Ride the High Country d. Sam Peckinpah. Cinema
* Mozart in the Jungle s.2. tv
* The Danish Girl d. Tom Hooper. Cinema
* Vivre sa Vie d. Jean luc Godard
* Song of the Sea d. Tomm Moore
* True Grit d. Ethan Coen & Joel Coen. Cinema
* A Midsummer Night's Dream (a play for the nation) Theatre - RSC & The Castle players - beautiful :)
* Wadjda d. Haifaa Al-Mansour
* Triumph of the Will L. Riefenstahl :((
* Total Eclipse d. Agnieszka Holland
* A Canterbury Tale w. & d. Powell & Pressberger
* Song of Myself by Walt Whitman Radio - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0770h0v - seemed abridged
* Family Plot d. Alfred Hitchcock
* To Kill a Mockingbird d. Robert Mulligan
* The Sweeney d. N. Love
* Queen Christina d. Rouben Mamoulian. Cinema
* Vincent and Theo d. Robert Altman
* Deconstructing Harry w. & d. Woody Allen
* Starman d. John Carpenter
* Mildred Pierce d. Michael Curtiz. Cinema
* Rescue Dawn d. Werner Herzog
* Adam's Rib d. George Cukor. Cinema
* Nashville d. Robert Altman
* Melancholia d. Lars von Trier
* Ghostdog d. Jim Jarmusch
* All About Eve d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cinema
* Gentlemen Prefer Blondes d. Howard Hawks. Cinema
* Thelma and Louise d. Ridley Scott. Cinema
* Star Trek: into darkness d. J. J Abrams
* The Silence of the Lambs d. Jonathan Demme. Cinema
* Clouds of Sils Maria d. Olivier Assayas
* Sliding Doors d. Peter Howitt
* Love in the Afternoon d. Eric Rohmer
* Ordet d. Carl Theodor Dreyer. Cinema
* The Titfield Thunderbolt d. Charles Crichton
* Winter's Bone d. Debra Granik. Cinema
* Star Trek d. J. J. Abrams
* Shutter Island d. Martin Scorsese
* The Last Samurai d. Edward Zwick
* The search for the lost manuscript: Julian of Norwich television
* A Tale of Springtime d. Eric Rohmer
* Dersu Uzala d. Akira Kurasawa
* The Assassin d. Hsiao-Hsien Hou
* The Mystery of van Gogh's Ear bbc tv
* Valerie and Her Week of Wonders d. Jaromil Jires. Cinema/big screen
* Only Yesterday d. Isao Takahata
* I'm Not There d. Todd Haynes
* The Story of the Weeping Camel d. Byambasuren Davaa & Luigi Falorni
* Stalker d. Andrei Tarkovsky
* Spotlight d. Tom McCarthy
* Aparajito d. Satyajit Ray
* Akira Kurosawa's Dreams d. Akira Kurosawa
* A Winter's Tale d. Eric Rohmer
* Pather Panchali d. Satyajit Ray
* Humanity and Paper Balloons d. Yamanaka Sadao. Cinema
* Solaris d. Andrei Tarkovsky. Cinema
* Late Spring d. Yasujiro Ozu. Cinema
* Mirror d. Andrei Tarkovsky. Cinema
* Nostalghia d. Andrey Tarkovsky. Cinema
* Begin Again d. John Carney
* The Life of Oharu d. Kenji Mizoguchi. Cinema
* Wonder Boys d. Curtis Hanson, RIP
* The Sacrifice d. Andrey Tarkovsky. Cinema
* Stalker d. Andrey Tarkovsky. Cinema
* Notes on Blindness d. Pete(r) Middleton, James Spinney (25/10/16)
* Bakumatsu taiyôden d. Yuzo Kawashima. Cinema
* Ballad of Narayama d. Keisuke Kinoshita. Cinema.
* Non-Stop d. Jaume Collet-Serra
* Bird on a Wire d. Tony Palmer
* A Summer's Tale d. Eric Rohmer
* The Aristocats d. Wolfgang Reitherman
* Harvey d. Henry Koster
* Deep Water d. Shawn Sheet tv.
* Paterson d. Jim Jarmusch. Cinema
* Hitchcock/Truffaut d. Kent Jones
* Paterson d. Jim Jarmusch. Cinema. (twins)
* The White Devil read not dead read through - Theatre
* Westworld tv.
* The Rewrite d. Marc Lawrence
* Kuroneko d. Kaneto Shindo. Cinema
* Interstellar d. Christopher Nolan
* Mozart in the Jungle s3. tv.
* Saving Mr. Banks d. John Lee Hancock
* An Autumn Tale d. Eric Rohmer
* To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters w&d. Sally Wainwright, tv
I got a bit sick of my wall of gentle prompting - 'twas ever the same and not prompting me much - the reason I wasn't reading many of these were good reasons - Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney went on hold as i wanted to read it along with his collections, and they've been on hold since I read the first four, at some point I'll read the next four in a batch (I hope). At present I have zero intention of ever completing that Erica Jong, and she was really only on there to add female balance...need to find that with other authors at present.
But, oh but, but oh the lack of colour . . .
so...and why wait until next year's thread...now a wall...smaller perhaps...but changing....
some things that have stuck with me from reading and from this year
- Emily Dickinson's dog, a Newfoundland (reading Charyn learned their interesting history in the nineteenth century from Byron and through Brontes and on) - Carlo...and nearly as tall as she...so her size too...and more of her life at home, and telling her cousin (if I remember correctly) on entering her bedroom 'in here lies freedom' and reading that essay on her as Vesuvian, and appreciating her singularity. And starting in on all her poems to get to know them and her better.
- Visited Rydal Mount, which I had forgotten I had seen, before I was ready to - but remembered reading a quote from Emerson in Wordsworth's library -- about how when Wordsworth started reciting, kind of chanting his poems to Emerson that Emerson almost laughed, yet came to see how right Wordsworth was and it was he that was mistaken. I remember reading that when I was training as a counsellor. Never used it in essays or anything, but it must have fitted with so much then, am sure it meant a lot to me in fact. Very glad to have been reminded of it. I did find an essay online about Emerson meeting both Wordsworth and Coleridge but did not find that quote used in it, on a scan read.
- Rimbaud's birthday today I think 20/10/16. This quote is a synthesis of Rimbaud written into the film about Bob Dylan's lives 'I'm Not There' - beautifully read in the film, it works for me and thought what better time:
"It’s wrong to say, “I think”; One should say, “I am thought”. I is someone else. I am present at the birth of my thought: I watch and I listen: I draw a stroke of the bow: The symphony stirs in the depths, or comes with a leap to the stage. It began with waves of disgust, and it ends—-as we can’t immediately seize this eternity—-; It ends with a riot of perfumes."
- I finished 'Sculpting in Time' by Andrey Tarkovsky. A wonderful book, important, and important to me, which gives me much t think on maybe act on too.
"Our world has seen such a disruption of all that should bind the individual to society that it has become supremely important to restore man's participation in his own future. This requires that man should go back to believing in his soul and in its suffering, and link his own actions with his conscience. He has to accept that his conscience will never be at rest as long as what he does is at variance with what he believes; and recognise this through the pain of his soul as it demands he acknowledge his responsibility and his fault. This precludes self-justification through convenience and easy formulae about the fatal influence of other people -- never of ourselves -- upon what is happening. I am convinced any attempt to restore harmony in the world can only rest on the renewal of personal responsibility."
(Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p235).
To start the thread proper, I was thinking of adding some thoughts on last year's thread, but they're more appropriate here.
Thoughts be gorrah, or what passes for them. What prompts such an effort as to try to think? In a way it's something that I've mentioned before in threads. In another I've come at it a slightly new way. I was flying with reading until late October when life got it the way and led to very little reading for about six weeks. I've only recently got a bit back on track. I was also lucky to get to a library sale and bought about 30 books at less than a pound a book, lots of poetry and also drama, I really had to stay away from the novels. But what do I need more books for? I've got at least two hundred I reckon I haven't catalogued, this is getting daft. I can make a case for poetry, so I have ready reference and can flit as I like. Then I was shown round the sale by a friend that's attended some reading groups with me, groups I don't have time to join at the moment. We recalled the summer Tolstoy group and the summer we read all Forster's novels, so satisfying and directed to achieve something.
Well, it prompted thoughts on reading. In the six week lay off I wondered if it had given me more time to think for myself (yes dangerous, and dangerous to claim) - including wondering if that made it easier to write. (In the early days of me on the internet (and way before I ever thought I'd write, except that I always thought about it) I remember speaking to an author on some chat program and them saying they read six months a year and wrote the other six months, so that's always at the back of my mind). But then look how much I have to read as well, never mind all the stuff I want to read that I don't even have and not withstanding my library tickets, so if anything I want to read more, not less? Conflict! (I imagine you all understand.)
Then there is also this sense of wanting direction in what I read, of achieving fuller understandings -- so many authors I would like to read entire. And yet in my ditsy jazzy free flowingness all that direction is an illusion and I like to roll with the way I feel.
I've started to feel in recent months that I'd like to set goals in a way I usually avoid -- and then on top of that avoid ever saying them for various reasons. So, this is me working up to saying I may set some goals and start to draft my thinking for this year. And they will have to somehow solve these tensions, be my own goals - and of course this is just an experiment like every year has been anyway.
After my reengagement with Shakespeare's sonnets later in 2015 I thought I may like trying to work through all his nibs' plays. I've read a few of course, but do them in order, read around each. And watch them too, of course. A rough aim of one a month might be nice, real progress possible. Unfortunately getting to start coincided with my dry spell. So, we'll see. (and his sub plots and teasing towards denouement sometimes just gets on my wick. heretic.)
Apologies - long post - product of me treating this as a reading journal space and I'm working this out as I go.
My previous theme on these lines usually speaks of some anxiety to read more(/everything) and finite time etc etc. It strikes me tonight that this is very much like many other problems in life where decisions may be needed -- and have to admit I do tend to avoid them and follow my nose at the time. I also have the tension that I feel I am (increasingly thankfully in some ways) making up for a long time of not reading so much and huge gaps in my education (why do i say thankfully? - the number of english graduates I have met who say that their degree put them off reading.) - especially as a would be poet, a need to know more of poetry having not studied it properly.
In many ways this problem is totally practical - things people I really want to read, the Bible, Plato, pre-socratics, Homer, Hesiod, greek tragedies, Ovid, Virgil, Dante etc etc...yeah the canon, and hell more. Yet immediately I say this that is meaningless, so many other authors I love, that connected to me for so many other reasons, and times when books just fit right into my life, right book, right time.
So, maybe I just want to set some loose schedules and themes, always changeable. I may try to set a month a time to a particular poet - and perhaps try to get through one classic I need to catch up on per quarter. we are probably already near my limits for completion there. I may also have to alternate Shakespeare months with other dramatists, we'll see how he goes. Then there are all those wall of gentle prompting books to finish (and more). And I haven't even mentioned Philosophy or biography/autobiography.
And all this is meaningless unless i am reading things and PEOPLE I connect to and want to at that time -- all that Tolstoy thing about connection to feelings. And life is sadly finite. So, and here is why I am really blathering on, it i about decisions about what I am really connecting to and want to use the time, that is of value to me to explore further. I'm fascinated not just by Shakespeare but by other dramatists and poetry of that time, a time at a turn in the world that shaped the way.
There are things that cannot be (or i refuse to) schedule. The liberty to open books of poetry as and when, or Chuang Tzu say. But overall I think I'll try to shape reading each month this way and harden some general longer term goals or choices.
Again, treating this as a journal in a way, let me start to list some possibilities that spring to mind and especially heart.
novels - Dickens, George Eliot, Tolstoy, Pynchon,
poetry - Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, Keats, Hughes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Celan, Whitman, Burnside,
Drama - Friel, Pinter, Beckett, Shakespeare
Philosophy - Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Pascal, Plato (Buddhism, Tao, the Bible)
I need to look back at my threads and ask which really has touched and enthused me most...ask my heart (I'll amend this list above as I do) and then also let the choice freak out a bit. Some direction but not all. maybe I should direct just one area at a time and then be free elsewhere. I still have lots on so maybe this is hot air . . .
In a way there is directed reading but also reading well (just as there is living well and many ways to do that) - obvious, but mysterious and hard.
So, I went through my list of al the books I have listed as read on LT since I joined and completely unscientifically I highlighted those I remember as having had the biggest reaction to - it's hard to specify what this means, positive maybe, but more than that, that I have some strong feeling from or for and to some extent thinking of how they have lingered. This is it:
edit - ok it was a bit dull just posting a long list of favourites - I've whittled it down further but then simply listed authors (a starred those that stand out in my memory (from the works I've read alone) and that I'd especially like to read more of or complete)
edit edit -- ok so going through the list again, nearly 50 authors. I'm going to be really hard and go with my heart on who i really feel I want t read more of or complete and try to limit that to ten - who get 2*s)
** E. M. Forster
J. D. Salinger
* nicholson baker
** Charles Dickens
* Nathaniel Hawthorne
* Henry James
* Ivan Goncharov
* Kerstin Ekman
* T. S. Eliot
** Wordsworth and Coleridge
* mackay brown
* R. S. Thomas
* Kathleen Jamie
* Edward Thomas (already read all his poems)
** Seamus Heaney
** Paul Celan
* Dylan Thomas
** Emily Dickinson
* Niall Campbell (no more available at present I think)
** Bruce Chatwin
* Anton Chekhov
* Friedrich Nietzsche
** Joseph Campbell
* Lao Tzu
So, I can see some possible priorities for me. Tolstoy and Forster I have read a lot of, especially Forster. Some others I'd have to add that i want to read, have at least two unfinished Kierkegaard books on the go and he may make it into the ten, others unfinished. It may have been like watching paint dry for others but its been a very interesting process. Some of these feelings will change, must, maybe even daily. I can see me focussing more on many of thee writers.
I thought it may be useful to have ten novelists, ten poets, ten others perhaps -- I may also need to add five unfinisheds or to reads to them too. i think this is really giving me some possible direction, from sort of grounded analysis of my reading and feeling for it. It's just that some feelings can change and enthusiasms, but hopefully this is able to get a bit beyond that.
E. M. Forster
John Irving (/William Trevor)
I've not included Goncharov and Hawthorne as there is not a lot more to read, I think. Salinger for same reason (for now only I hope). I deleted Henry James as I realised he is only on the list from short stories and his biography of Hawthorne. Some very hard choices made there, Irving makes the list on the basis of just a prayer for owen meany that was a very happy reading experience, William Trevor could replace him (love Lucy Gault, Felicia whilst beautifully written puts me off him a bit). Bolano went as I think I have just read short stories so far.
edit - only one woman on my list, foiled again, will have to bias those added further.
Well, you have a lot going on in your head. Enjoyed following your thought process. I have a similar desire to pursue all those classics. I have thought putting a year or so in reading Shakespeare - all of it in order of release, as far as is known - would be wonderful. Someday I might just try that.
I notice Pynchon on your list - I'm going to have a go at all his novels this year, starting with V on Friday. And I'm giving Homer a go, which leads me to want to know more about one book in post #2 - The Gods of the Greeks. I see a copy by Karl Kerenyi (who I had never heard of).
A nice start to your thread.
Thanks Dan, and a merry Christmas to you too. We'll see about Shakespeare, may be best not spoken of. Another friend has reminded me of what I touched on, that there are gems to be found that just connect, right book, right time - have to stay open to that, but may mean panning through others.
Pynchon, I've read three i think, not V and don't have that yet but not very tempted to read of Herr Blicero's previous life. I am tempted by Mason & Dixon and by Inherent Vice (enjoyed the movie).
I read Kerenyi's book on Asklepios a year or two ago and enjoyed that - I have gods of the greeks from the library but have not made much progress. I like his approach as he tells the myths as he imagines the greeks would, it is much less confusing than some approaches, and say Graves and also I suppose elucidates them. The editor of that series of books I recently learned was Joseph Campbell whom i loved learning of properly, and connecting with, for the first time this last year. You've also reminded me of a documentary i saw in the last year or two that travels the mediterranean and explains the sources and physical links of the myths, linking them to Euboean sailors journeys to the Levant for example, wish I could remember its name.
A lot going on in my head made me laugh, yeah, if you only knew. Here's to a good reading year and a peaceful and healthy one.
So, I did some more thinking. Quite annoyed with myself at the same time that in prime holiday time, perfect for reading, I have done very little of that, I'll come back to that.
I came up with the following possible list to read for January -
Shakespeare (some of)
Tarkovsky (to complete, likely not in one month)
Patrick Kavanagh & Seamus Heaney
Robertson Davies (to complete Deptford trilogy)
Joseph Campbell (the hero with a thousand faces)
Tolstoy (some of)
Already far more than I could manage in January.
Coincidentally - I've just been reading of Tolstoy's last major project - it developed from a habit he had after serious illness in 1903 of reading and thinking on a wise thought every day. However the calendar he got these thoughts from ended and led him to decide to work one out for himself - developing over 3 volumes from selections he made of wise writings to developing a circle of reading for himself (which he'd had in mind since 1884) to a final working out of approach in 'wise thoughts for every day', which has only been available in English (and a selected version at that) since 1997. edit - the final volume being worked to a structure he developed to examine such thoughts, a pattern or methodology.
Fascinating - I've been having my own thoughts of trying to focus my reading and expand it in ways that may help me. So, I think I'm going to follow his thoughts, we shall see if I keep it up.
It was extremely popular in Russia, up until the revolution whereupon the soviets banned it due to its religious aspects. And has been popular since the fall of the USSR. Given the nature of the late Tolstoy I imagine it is interested in truth and wisdom beyond simple state organisation and therefore beyond its interest in religion it may have been necessarily threatening to the state, almost to any state. Thankfully we can read it (though I am sorry it is a selected) and trust that what we learn may only help us to move forward progressively, for good.
So, I have that Tolstoy to follow this year (the first two volume of selections of others thoughts I understand are published togehter as the calendar now in English and the final volume which focusses on his own really following this). I read more of it all here brain pickings - Tolstoy, a calendar of wisdom. I hope I can keep to following day by day both this and his wise thoughts.
I'm struck reading one of those wise thoughts from Schopenhauer (on the link above) on not constantly seeking to learn as it gives no time to think. And as I think I said above did find my falling away from loads of reading may have helped me think. Another theme is about the importance of choice in what I read - and of course yet another has been a theme here of the link between all this and living well. That would be a good thing.
Despite many splendid educational opportunities (one or two even taken) I somehow moved away from literature, and also misspent (edit - spent in other ways than reading) a lot of time I wish now I had spent engaging in more of the sort of reading and living well I'm getting into now. I've surprised myself in the writing I have done, I always wanted to do it, but somehow did not believe I would or could. I can't explain that, it's some complicated aspect of me. So, because I am writing in recent years I've had a bit of a panic about all I feel I should have read, and would have if my past had taken turns more in line with this. I mean how dare I be a poet when I have read so little poetry? (An interesting question in its falsity.) Reading Patrick Kavanagh recently I come from a very different background yet also feel a bit of an outsider to established writing in some way. But maybe I have surveyed a bit now and need to select well, give myself time to think and live well. I can't get back that time, but have to make the best of my time.
It also seems to me that faced with the immensity of the media and of what is out there it's a very natural modern reaction to feel a need to dive into everything. Whenever we see something about some writer or filmmaker we get reams of experts, speaking from their thorough knowledge - we don't seem to get people that only know a bit -- it gives a feeling that to get anywhere or to voice an opinion we need such stature. I'm not even suggesting this is deliberate on the part of the media - it's just a byproduct of many things (and of how freely others let us think perhaps, not least how we let ourselves think). So, I want to be kind to myself this year, and about last and not judge it as another failure or drop on the ocean of what I need to do. I'm not after starting revolution except in myself and for fostering mutual kindness and understanding, not hate and violence - and I don't feel that encouraging such thoughtfulness in us need lead to anything but peace and understanding, and maybe, progress.
I'll try to select some reading this month from that list above, and maybe some others, but be kind to myself about how much I can do. I may experiment with intense months of reading and then lighter ones, but cannot do that just now for practical reasons, in fact may have several months of light reading enforced.
Nothing coherent to add, but I have enjoyed reading your thoughts here, especially the tension between reading and writing.
Dropping my star here - sounds like you will be taking on some very interesting reading this year.
Thanks ridgewaygirl and Alison.
I had a new year walk today and then listened to 'words and music' on the radio - I heard some poems by Samuel Menashe. I think I'd heard of him before, may even have read this obituary before, but it really connected today. A beautiful obituary
I want to learn more of him and from reading his wiki entry I'm thinking his phd thesis must have been very interesting, again as with my thoughts at the end of last year's thread about that sense of the world that may be poetic.
I also enjoyed finding this and the 5 minute film here too, on R. S. Thomas:
edit - Now I remember why i had specific posts for articles, so my thread didn't become too big - http://richardskinner.weebly.com/blogposts/max-sebalds-writing-tips - interesting thoughts, but if I took them all on board would I be writing how I need to write or be writing like Sebald?
I wish could get to see this, having seen the documentary film last year http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/grey-gard...
Am reading some Edwin Muir, came across this, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/may/31/poetry
if and when I write on him I'll say something of Heaney's comment. And a lovely essay on Muir by John Greening http://thebatterseareview.com/critical-prose/247-greening-muir
This year's T. S. Eliot - http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/11/ts-eliot-prize-poet-sarah-howe-wins...
I've long been advised to read Kathleen Raine, but seem to be in a receptive mood and read her poem 'The Moment' tonight, beautiful. http://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/jul/08/guardianobituaries.books
Janet Malcolm on the recent biography of Ted Hughes http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/02/11/ted-hughes-very-sadistic-man/
Will look forward to your comments about Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces. Will try to do a better job of keeping up this year!
Thanks Suzanne - I thought I would give a good go to the gods of the greeks before going back to campbell, to have a bit more of my own reference to myth first. Maybe they'll have to go in tandem, when I have space, as I don't imagine belting through a whole mythology.
I'm making tiny progress with Tarkovsky. but got tempted to start tales of the german imagination from the brothers grimm to ingeborg bachmann. I've only just begun, but they've been amazing so far:
The Brothers Grimm - The Singing Bone, Hansel and Gretel & the Children of Hameln.
E. T. A. Hoffmann - The Sandman
All great - but I'm particularly struck by 'Hansel and Gretel' and by 'The Sandman'. (I think I am learning it is best if I am going to write to do so when I am fired up and not when these tales go cold as I progress to others.)
Hansel and Gretel - I must surely have read before - yet when I did could I really grasp the final sentence that destabilises the text, announces its fairytale status and then points further to what may be the case. Maybe I knew it in a way but I don't remember feeling it quite so clearly, or not clearly for a long time. But then it is a long time since I can have read any version. And we don't have modern niceties with this, I must read more Brothers Grimm. But it is such an instructive tale just in showing how this can be done, instructing in caution with the text or speaker and then throwing us back to show how such a tale may hold the promise of what is wanted or needed, which is interesting psychologically.
The Sandman - a powerful, awful story. Sadly all too recognisable (and in its influence). I saw the film Vertigo the other day and it was very much with me as I read the ending of this story. Again a text I must wonder at in a literal sense. But also such a knowing story and touch by the author. It led me to read more about him - I have a copy of the life and opinions of tomcat murr thanks to our formerly local feline's example (he's missed), but I knew so little of Hoffmann and a simple read of the wiki article said so much -- how important and influential he is, understandably. I did, I think, know his helpful view of the need to split the self conscious need to impress in writing from the self aware need to create, but I had not linked it back to him by name and to his works. I'm sadly good at ignorance. But it was good to be reminded of this writing advice today. I haven't told you much about this story, but simply recommend it very highly. I wish i had read it long ago.
This reading develops a theme since I saw Vertigo again. Well, I say saw it - I missed the start (which I'd always loved) and saw it from the titles, but at times with the sound down. I find with this film that I can get lost in interpretation - which is interesting as that is exactly what it seems to be about...and Jimmy Stewart want so much to believe in. Even as I remember not to, I get drawn in to some sort of Freudian analysis or reduction of what is happening for Scotty...and that is what he is doing too...and it struck me again, but yes I keep forgetting, that away from getting drawn into the meaning of his understanding it is also helpful simply to remember that he is chasing ghosts/ideas, full stop. Then it seemed I may go back over the tale, as I can with the two above, and see it differently, not seeking the illusion of truth in it at face value, truth may be there in another way. Maybe I was also influenced as I've been reading from Whitman's Leaves of Grass (deathbed edition) and had spent some time reading his poem 'Eidolons'. I've been aware of reification for some time - but seem to have stumbled to a new clarity with it and of how ideas can get in the way (is it ever possible to step away from all mispalced certainty without setting up another, however tentative?). Maybe my view isn't true - maybe it is another of my ideas upon ideas and I'll find myself in another tower of my own, sadly too late, having fallen...but, again, the response lies outside of texts, which then allows me to frame them more helpfully.
this stuff is basic - but so important - does anyone teach it? Maybe I was just a bit slow - or too in thrall to ideas and gingerbread goodies and seeking.
(edit - I also read an interesting section on google books in a book called the pygmalion effect: from Ovid to Hitchcock by victor Stoichita which seemed to be hitting many of these nails on these heads and more and beyond this reading, will try to find a copy of this book somehow. Especially interesting on the haptic versus scoptic sense. i think what i am saying is also partly about bringing other aspects of the feeling of an idea to the idea, beyond following it at face value - I must sound an idiot.)
In many ways I have learned this all before - in others it doesn't feel it has ever been so clear. It is also interesting given my work that I do try to understand from other's perspective - but this suggests a limit to hold.
I'm off to read Freud's essay on 'The Uncanny', which I know is very trendy, but that I have never read, but which has an analysis of 'the Sandman' I understand - and then I shall be off to look the uncanny up in my books of Jung. Then try and make contact with other human beings...or maybe I'll do that the other way around.
Not yet read any Zizek, no. I have watched him on television occasionally.
I've not read war and peace and want to in a suitable space. I did read what is art last year, comments are there on the thread (I hope! I found a past thread with a comment deleted, i must have forgotten). You made me think on Tolstoy and the importance of sincerity to him. I cannot remember any comments he made on the Grimms or Hoffmann. I think I'd argue there is still sincerity in the Hoffmann even as there is irony and skewing away from the obvious, that it may be decoded...even that it may be most useful for having to be sought.
>1 tonikat: Hi Tony, Happy New Year to you, and I'm looking forward to your thread this year, again. I love your wall of gentle prompting!
>17 reva8: many thanks reva - it is good to see you about. I hope your studies are going well and that you have a little time to read other things.
A lot to catch up with here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, interesting as always.
thanks rebecca, my own lostness leading to me to work out where I am. I'm steadfastly ignoring(at the mo) all my own workings out as to what i should read too. I have started Edwin Muir's autobiography which apparently used to be standard reading in British schools, yet missed this entirely I think.
So, having one of my less formal, write as I go, years.
I am a third of the way through Edwin Muir's autobiography - it made me think of Zeno (max) as it's very Jungian influenced, I think he'd had Jungian therapy at one point in is life. He writes a lot of his feelings for things and people and of his dreams. it is wonderful, I can see why it would have been on the school syllabus, but maybe not now as the world is tuned to the material and the crap of economic reasoning and outcomes. I'll save comments on the Labyrinth for a while.
I read another tale of the German imagination - 'Rune Mountain' by Ludwig Tieck. i quite enjoyed it - as with 'the Sandman' it was quite good about shifts in perception and in a way personality, a warning tale, also about seeking more in life as against happiness for what you have. I didn't like it as much as 'The Sandman' or 'Hansel and Gretel'.
Speaking of fairy tales, I read this today http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35358487
Interesting article, Tony. I was struck irrelevantly by the opening illustration of Beauty and the Beast. What a strange depiction, if it is what it looks like (19th c. Pre-Raphaelite).
What a fascinating article. Their methodology is very interesting and I would suspect, controversial. It will be interesting to read further assessments of it.
I think she's giving him CPR, he keeled over when she said she loved him.
id read another article in the Guardian which had a bit more info and a some quotes from Marina Warner. I haven't followed the link to the original article, but it is the Royal Society publishing this, and well I have a kind of soft spot for Durham (despite strange decisions about department closures).
February media and stuff
I'm looking forward to this - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/57bSTJ2dPW3fSmS8hPXD2fq/the-renaissance...
useful summary - http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/feb/01/shakespeare-timeline-playwrights-li... and lots of interesting stuff on Shakespeare in that guardian section
Not putting so much up these days articles-wise - but reading plenty. But this felt very relevant today - the actual evading all theory and sense making of it, how it must be, to be something else -- https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/02/27/steinbeck-east-of-eden-meaning-of-life/ and mock me for trying to say that, mock the mish mash mick mack mockery of word maps to the glory before or after dawns, or at eclipse or in the shadow of a clouded minute that feels like hours, waiting for what he's promised, the knowledge you thought could not be lost, the mountain tops now mistly heavy cloud.
https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/09/12/ted-hughes-inner-child-letter/ - though I am not sure of how the website closes the article.
>26 tonikat: yup, that one's on the recorded to catch the series. I quite like the presenter, he never takes himself too seriously.
An Autobiography by Edwin Muir Kindle ed.
I'm writing having decided to call a night on some work work. So I am a bit frustrated, perhaps not in my closest connection to Muir, I should perhaps have written some time ago, but thinking about him promises some respite and helpful thoughts and feelings.
This was a wonderful autobiography - yes his life was his lived as best he could, with its paradise and hellish challenge and journeys on. But the style of this autobiography was wonderful. I mentioned I was reading this to a friend and he spoke of jealousy I was enjoying Muir's 'heathered prose' - I don't know if he was quoting another, but it fits so nicely. His prose was a joy, and his wanderings not unlike a good walk on a moor (note to self look up etymology of Muir, may not be what it may be).
Muir was an Orcadian. Raised on rented farms there until the age of fourteen. Another world - and as he was to find another world even amidst much of his contemporary world. I loved his approach to speaking of his experience, in which he focusses not first on fact it seemed but on his impressions and feelings, observations - and out of this facts and chronology emerge. It is very vivid writing and recalls a sort of nostalgia yet a realistic one. At first he writes of his early childhood and it recalls the sort of feelings I can understand from that age - yet his, my experience quite different, and it makes perfect sense as he explains this. He gives a very good sense of how his observation of the world and experience of it set the bounds of his view of it, I hesitate to say limited his understanding of it. Perhaps I should not pursue such limiting language too far, I don't have him open as I type, I'm responding to my feelings in memory of about a month ago as I read him. Yet a major theme of the book is his relationship to christianity - accepting Christ twice at evangelical meetings - and exactly this, how that then affected his world view.
He came to see his childhood in the Orkneys as Eden-like. At fourteen his family moved to Glasgow and within a few years he lost both parents and a brother. His education seemed to have stopped formally with the move - he worked as a clerk. It was a disaster - separated from the way of life he knew, growing to understand its specialness, losing these loved ones - and the break up of his extended family that had lived on the farms with them and described so vividly initially. For all his description of how his view could be limited he contradicts himself in his fully human observation of those he describes on Orkney and later. This story is well known. His work in a beer factory - later outside Glasgow in a bone crushing factory that was so difficult for him and I've seen described as obscene that he experienced this. His meeting with his wife (he says little of this) and escape to London, into professional writing and travel and translations and his late development into poetry (interesting to me).
In London he experienced an analysis - I think it was Jungian - though I don't think he specifies. Throughout the book a huge aspect of his description of his experience is to relate important dreams. What dreams - I shall not try to convey them, symbolic not to say mythological in scope and development. In fact during his analysis he has a series of waking dreams and is warned to back away from them by his therapist. One such dream became a poem in the collection I began with, The LABYRINTH, the poem was 'The Combat' - superb. The therapy seems to have helped him move forward despite some concerns of his past and which he seems to characterise as limiting and which may also have had somatic effects.
He describes his intellectual interests - I was impressed by his reaction to communism in the thirties, his eloquence and his differentiation of it from his socialist background as more angry, simply replacing one simplicity for another - and that it had nothing to do with the lion and the lamb lying down together. I found it a wonderfully eloquent analysis. My only question might be that those espousing it (communism) may have said that it was their only choice due to what they faced, they may not have had his past experience of an Eden in a world that in some ways as he says his was was pre modern. I also found his later point:
"Since the Industrial Revolution there has not really been an order except in a few remote places; for competition is the principle of anarchy."
I'd like to post this back to the 1980's (did no one use it?) -- but sadly still relevant now. And the possibility we may organise on the basis of mutual support is now so discredited that someone like Jeremy Corbyn is not seen as a serious politician.
But I'll stop with the politics.
Just a wonderful book - so much that could be said. The second version incorporated part of an essay he wrote of notes on autobiography - and my version included the other parts of that essay that he had not added to the text of the book, which had wonderful comments on autobiography.
In the end I had the sense of a man who had found himself and what he had to do -- and could share the wisdom that came of his journey to this. For a time he headed the adult education college at NewBattle Abbey, where one student was George Mackay Brown whose recollections of this introduced my copy - and I can quite understand the warmth he held Edwin Muir in, it comes over in this prose. A beautiful book. I've made little more progress with his poems, but plan to.
Oh those Canongate books with their unmistakable covers! I buy them whenever I see them, just on principle. Unfortunately, Canongate is rarely found in this country, especially the older ones.
I wasn't familiar with Edwin Muir, but this site http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/edwin-muir also credits him with being the translator who first brought the works of Franz Kafka to English.
With regard to your comments on his Eden-like Orcadian existence and the sudden immersion into Glasgow, the same site gives this wonderful quote from him as follows:
" I was born before the Industrial Revolution, and am now about two hundred years old. But I have skipped about a hundred and fifty of them. I was really born in 1737, and till I was fourteen no time-accidents happened to me. Then in 1751 I set out from Orkney for Glasgow. When I arrived I found that it was not 1751, but 1901, and that a hundred and fifty years had been burned up in my two days' journey. But I myself was still in 1751, and remained there for a long time. All my life since I have been trying to overhaul that invisible leeway."
Some of his experiences and concerns sound like some of the themes in the work of Robin Jenkins, a generation or so later. Have you read anything by him, and if so, would this be the case?
I'm now going to look for Edwin Muir. It was a terrific review.
The quote you make comes from the section, if I remember rightly without checking, before the quote I included and gives context for that point. I highlighted many sections of this book.
I don't know of Robin Jenkins but am glad to now and will look into him.
Yes, I didn't mention much about Edwin Muir's translations - with his wife Willa. He does not say much of them and I was disappointed he did not say more of Kafka and how he felt of him. He did relate an amazing, powerful story of one of Kafka's sisters, whom he said under the Nazi's divorced her non Jewish husband and distanced herself from him and their children, with the result that they survived, she did not.
Muir did disparage some of his work as a translator as, like any job, becoming repetitive. But I was surprised he did not mention Kafka more and how their translations came about. I checked and my Penguin collected novels is the work of the Muirs.
My copy of An Autobiography is on Kindle - so I wonder if that may be available, maybe not? I did not know Canongate except by reputation and will look out now.
Muir's recollections were very vivid and after this and several other Orkney strands in my reading I hope very much to visit one day.
I believe this book was for many years on the school syllabus. I missed it, but I can totally understand why it was on there. And a great example of someone finding their way without university etc.
>33 baswood: I found I had a couple of his poems in the Penguin book of Contemporary Verse
- I wonder if it ever occurred to Penguin when they chose that title for their anthology that people would still be using it more than half a century later!
Thanks Bas. Yes, it is a book to stay with a person, I think.
As to the contemporary, the present is so time-ist is it not, always demanding to be here, always orphaned from its past, uncertain or uncaring about its future, demanding presence presence presence, now is what matters, and all these mindful people at that, demanding we be here, amongst all the ways the present lacks. And yet, do not rebel against it, you wouldn't want to lose it for all of how it is totally up itself.
Edit - and Tolstoy's wise thought for today is on how God is in the present.
I was directed, elsewhere to this - http://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2016/02/22/the-whence-and-the-how/
a lovely article on the Muirs and mainly Willa. before I wrote above I had meant to check the translator of my volume of Kafka, as I remembered Willa's name and assumed Edwin was part of it to, but must go and check again. Now I must read her memoir, and then wonder at what went before and after.
What a fascinating article, especially the idea of translating into a language which you use and in which you are fluent, but which has a completely different feel and sound to that to which you are accustomed; living in the English of the Scots (not here meaning Scots as a language) and then having to translate into what I call 'English' English.
I have just ordered Willa's Imagined Selves, in a Canongate edition no less!
ooooo that's enticing, what a great cover.
edit - And yes, a great point you make. It's all making me think of how such gentle culture seems so much to have passed...I'm going to hunt it out, it does exist but not the rapid fire media's darling, nor would it perhaps go there.
a March article - http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/03/13/cemetery-of-splendor-thailand-genial-nig...
- Robert Lowell on Robert Frost just after his death - http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1963/02/01/robert-frost-18751963/
I'm still here but little time to post really or keep up with posts - but am managing to read a bit and see films.
April article and things -
- I just read Adrienne Rich's essay 'Vesuvius at Home: the Power of Emily Dickinson' which I've really enjoyed - I was pointed to it as I also started A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century by Jerome Charyn and which I am also enjoying, will see how it goes am only one chapter in really. But I get a lot from these approaches to Dickinson, her fullness beyond how she is often portrayed. must get my complete version of her out, behind a second layers of books in the case - I leave books lying, I need to tidy, I tidy, why did I tidy this, that, I read, I need to tidy . . .
- I also read Robert Frost's essay/speech - 'Education by Poetry' recently, beautiful.
True Grit by Charles Portis
I saw the Coen brothers film again recently - a wonderful film. People enthused at that about the book and others' have to me in the past. the film makes good use of the dialogue from the book. For me that gave Mattie an even stronger voice, explaining herself even less, that and her look in the film remind me somewhat of Emily Dickinson (at large here not at home as it were), her refusal to explain herself for one thing.
The book is also different in some ways. It's wonderful writing - it inhabits her view of and place in the world and also her world, and Rooster's. I will seek out more of his books but am sometimes bad at doing that no matter how much I like an author.
The film closes with a quote from the book about how time gets away from us - and it occurred to me how much that is the theme of the book. In a way it is about her movement from childhood to adulthood and what she is true to - her flexibility of character and things she is inflexible about. At the same time it is about that in others and also about a time of change in the American west. It reminds us of things. It asks us questions of these things and the responses we may have - I'm thinking anyway. It's a rollicking good adventure too, what a girl. Though she may not have some flexibility Emily Dickinson may have had, I'm wondering, and we have in the end and idea of her being stuck somewhat. That ending sees very important perspective and question asking. Who knows what it means, it's rich to think about.
I was just thinking how understanding one thing may come at the expense of understanding everything else. Understanding everything else may come at the expense of understanding one thing.
- http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/08/29/rebel-rebel - been discovering Rimbaud, quite scary really, love him. I don't agree wit that growing up thing in this article, at my age - it does seem to me that Rimbaud is asking questions people do as they grow, but that may not just be at that age - I also feel he is very much engaged in healing himself and seeking. My feeling is that maybe he did in part, maybe in so searching he also found the limit to which poetry can do so, found what he really needed. But such broad generalisations are simplistic, the article too is simplistic toward the end especially.
(cross post) Interesting review (and love seeing this photo, I hadn't seen it before) -- he's very effusive about this translation...yet at the end he's critical of how english can always remind us of someone else's english, their poetry in english...and yet to me this misses the point....reading about zen, or Tolstoy's wise words, reminds me we all have the same life spirit...if poetry is good (oops typed god there) it is because it speaks truly of ourselves or view from ourselves and this resonates as true in some way with the experience of others...so it is not that we sound like others, who may have happened to come first, it is that we are resonating with the same aspects of being and that they are reminiscent of the remarks of others...but remain unique to ourselves (to varying degrees, but in one aspect wholly so even if they are deliberate(or accidental) mimicry)...it's a misunderstanding of our being to categorise ourselves as aspects of somehow wholer previous writings...we have the whole in ourselves and when we touch it and talk in that way then of course we may sound like others and be heard as true by others. Surely?
Having views of things can be tiring...well not having them so much, but keeping them, pointless really and impossible...please read my thoughts with this in mind (note to self as much as anyone else), who can step into the same stream twice...there I go and someone else's stream at that.
As I've been so busy I've not kept up with posts on things I've finished and wonder if I can say much on them now, even, shock, wondering if I want to, just to give myself little labyrinths to dwell in and occasionally rebel against and escape from.
edit - I'm especially going to have to reread the poetry if I comment on it. Wanted to reread the Shakespeare anyway.
primitive cartography by Paul Summers
A beautiful collection of poems, many sonnets - observations of life in a new land, of nature and of the nature of people, their history, their present. Powerful and tender.
edit - thinking about this some more, a poet that has strong convictions, is quite clear about them, sometimes confronts us with things, but does not batter us into submission it feels here, shows us and shows us other things too. I've been reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and it has a chapter on quality of being, and that is something that runs throughout this collection, a rich quality of being and being with others.
So, as ever, I have not included quotes - let me put that right too:
aha, i found some whole published online, here - http://cordite.org.au/author/paulsummers/
and read about it here (with some poems) http://smokestack-books.co.uk/book.php?book=89
and more info with the aussie publisher http://store.walleahpress.com.au/PAUL-SUMMERS--primitive-cartography_p_33.html
Symbolism by Charles Chadwick
A short introduction of Symbolism - focusses on French poets of Symbolism - Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarme, Valery with an introductory chapter and a short chapter looking at their wider influence (very briefly - and surprisingly not seeming to note the transcendental in Eliot as I remember it).
I came to this as I eventually really read some Rimbaud recently - dived into a season in hell and Illuminations without going through all that preceded them and this book was one in the bibliography in my collected. I loved Illuminations especially. Maybe say more of that later if I ever gather my thoughts - it deserves very full and considered - yet spontaneously pulsing - appreciation.
But this introduction gave a useful overview - I've only really read a bit of Baudelaire of the others but will look at them now I am sure. Of course it was fruitful to read with a view to poetics -- my own are kind of universal in a way, there are many ways to poetry I think...yet in having such open mindednesss it is easy to get lost...have to tread a calculus between openness and how we catch the things...I can think of poets I feel kind of snookered themselves through their definition of what poetry is, Pound? Bunting a bit? Laura Riding (had to give it up and could only allow herself to write dictionaries?), Coleridge perhaps thought far too much about it?? and here maybe Mallarme...though I need to learn more of him to check this out. I'm sorry that last sentence is my own working hypothesis for now.
This book has an idea of human symbolism and transcendental symbolism. The human uses symbols to suggest and build a sense that may become increasingly accurate of a feeling or experience that is human, the poet's. The transcendental is building a feeling that opens to a greater reality, perhaps ideal. An interesting distinction.
Overall a nice introduction - I am away reread those comments on Eliot to be sure.
edit - when I say mine more universal, they may aspire to be, creating themselves as needed - but I have no delusion they are so, it'd be nice, but hey I'm sure many are locked in the wrong form, sculptures the sculptor did not quite find in the stone, forms written cos that is what I am experimenting with - but hey, it happens and we develop.
edit - I went back and reread what he said - it is more nuanced than my description - he sees pessimism in Eliot and also that he was not at all interested in Rimbaud he feels - which kind of fits Eliot the academic I think. of course we have the Waste Land, pessimistic, yes, Prufrock and his ragged claws, yes I can see this. I'm not sure though that there is no transcendental there, I'd have to think harder and read them with this in mind though. He argues Eliot gets the transcendental through his turn to Christianity. But he says nothing at all about the Four Quartets, which it is some time since I looked at, but, I am kind of surprised does not get a look in in the transcendental stakes, bemused in fact. Maybe I am not drawing my definitions quite as he and hold judgement until I assess more.
I was also struck - given how little I have read the majority of poets included, how powerful such analysis is, yet how it may miss richness of lives lived and individual experience.
I'd also have liked to read more of Nerval. But it is a very good introduction I think. I also began Axel's Castle by Edmund Wilson a while ago but stopped after the chapter on Yeats as I really had not read the next person. Need to dive a bit more into these poets and novelists too for Wilson. I' also reading round Rimbaud more, Starkie's biography and also the newer one by Graham Robb, but have not got far. Some other reading too and a lot of other things I'm trying to finish at the moment.
Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe
Winer of this years T. S. Eliot prize - possibly the first if I remember rightly or one of the rare first to win for a first collection. Last year I read David Harsent's winner Fire Songs, but am not starting a practice - I read this as a friend recommended it.
It must be about two months since I read it - should really reread before saying much. Right now much does not stick - have a sort of sense of it, but also of nausea (may be partly that crocodile poem and images of green soup/contents of stomach of a croc). I also remember some emotional territory of moving and of relationships to parents, especially to her mother, in changing cultural circumstances, may again give me a sort of uneasiness.
I remember it all as very well done and especially liked the device of the quote I think from Borges about a chinese encyclopedia that categorised animals and gave her thus a theme for a number of poems running throughout the book, in a way then Borges infinite imagination comes back as real...and when people do that I'm not sure, does it make me unsure, maybe...does it make me maybe cross in a way as they claim that ground and realise it in some way, whilst I like it to remain free, undefined any further...yet it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do...for some reason I think of Mrs Shakespeare last year which I enjoyed but was a bit put out he'd dared to give Shakespeare this shape, I like to give him my own shape, thank you very much. So, just my own little idiosyncratic niggle really. We can claim back the virgin snow of Borges' idea in the blink of an eye and this is just one of the infinite ways it is also perfectly finely realised. (Edit - sorry I'm writing rubbish - I'm full of cold - she never once tries to lay claim to the Borges quote but is inspired by it, riffs from it, jumps into the sea of the infinite and the finite to sing what it suggests, may be suggested by it - I was quite quite unfair and very different to bringing Shakespeare to life (which also I should not complain about, whats the matter with me).)
I'll reread the collection before i say any other daft thing about it, though if i do so I am a bit wary of the feelings it may give me, will be keeping that in mind and maybe a reread would be a very good thing to check these, whether these memories are fair.
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
I've wanted to read this for a long time. When I saw it was available on the Kindle I allowed myself (despite cutting right back) -- a very good decision.
I've expended a lot of words in the last day on Dan's thread on Gravity's Rainbow, and elsewhere. I want to say little here about this superb book - it's just it helps me open up to it all. Saying less may be a tribute, or a poem would be, without self promotion though.
A book now I have finished I may read again, right away. Its shortish chapters are great to try and get through about one a day, or what you will. It's been a great companion to my Tolstoy Wise Words. It's definitely helped me at a difficult and also exciting time. A big influence I want to build on - in myself, experience, writing and in reading. Inspirational and also opening me up to find my own inspiration quotidian. A book I hope I'll always be thankful for and in touch with.
edit - perhaps I should say more about why it is so wonderful. It is a very clear book that focusses on practice, how to work to achieve the goal of Zen. It considers right practice, right attitude and right understanding but does not get bogged down in philosophy. It's very practical and given what it is practical about that is wonderful.
I've been holding back writing on some of the poetry I've read - I've not had a lot of time to post. I've also found that helps me read more. But I think I've been taking posting too seriously, maybe a natural challenge as I write more, completing my book - but want to remind myself of my own method here, respond with feelings and impressions of what I read. So in that spirit - there may be no end of other things to say about the following, but:
the Labyrinth by Edwin Muir
I talked about this a bit above. I hoped to have read his other collections by now, but as ever, sidetracked myself. This was his penultimate published collection - a common view is his later poems are his most accomplished (and I think there were later unpublished in his life time poems too). I loved this, it felt like a book and it discovered itself somehow, worked on itself. I know from his autobiography that the poem The Combat, which I loved comes from a dream he had many years before publication - I'm interested to know how it developed between.
Some of the poems, even though I loved them i wondered if I could see signs of the dilute aspect of them that is sometimes seen - I've seen Seamus Heaney quoted to that effect (much as he also recommended the reading of Muir - and I have not actually read him say this). The way I see it is in how he follows thoughts, often he does so in ways I am advised against, with generality and argument it seemed to me - I don't mind this, I even like it and in doing so he seems to find where he needs to get to. There are more condensed poems, such as The Combat, others. I'm not looking at it as I type and it is a while ago - but writing makes me realise I must go back and also on with his writing, it chimed so. The title poem had a bit of this development in my mind, others that I loved were the (famous) 'The Child Dying' and I remember especially liking 'Oedipus' and 'The Border'.
The Orchid Boat by Lee Harwood
A friend recommended Lee Harwood to me and this was the first volume I could get hold of, as it was on Kindle. This was his last and had that tone. The Orchid Boat itself being a reference to departure. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection - I remember a lyrical immediacy to it. I also remember the beautiful final poem dedicated to a new born family member.
I read it quickly, it is short, and that shows now as I must reread it. I really enjoyed it, to the extent I invested in his selected poems.
In that Selected I read - The long black veil: a notebook 1970-72 - as my friend highlighted it as a favourite. This also had moments of lyrical beauty and immediacy, though felt less transparent perhaps. Modernist I think in style and a poem that may open itself more on more reading and as i tune into him better. But not one in some ways I claim to understand, my understanding feels more fragmented, yet that's not enough, there is unity sensed. With that I'll shut up until I read it more.
Briggflatts by Basil Bunting
I've read this before - but never as this time in one sitting, which i found a helpful thing to do. The centenary edition I have is lovely - complete with cd of Bunting reading it and a DVD of a film about him, in which he visits Briggflatts.
I was prompted to read this as with the 50th anniversary of publication coming up I knew I was due to see and I was lucky to see Don Share and Steph Burt discuss it -- Share has a new edition of the collected poems forthcoming.
Bunting in some ways it may feel doesn't get the press he may deserve. Local lad for me too -- in his cosmopolitan-ness. An influence on Pound. A modernist. A scholar. A pacifist who went to prison in World War one as a conscientious objector who became a squadron leader in World War 2 fighting what he felt had to be fought. Some of his exploits are famous, some we may never know in nature of his roles.
Briggflatts in some ways an autobiography. One of beauty with a clear form. Share commented on how hard he was on himself as to what was good - and the forthcoming may have poems in it that Bunting would not have republished. I found it on this reading a little less hidden from me that previously. Its opening itself more, to the extent it does. it has a lovely musicality - as of course Bunting intended for whim this was so important. I'd not listened to the cd before and enjoyed this and yet, for all the ways he innovated with this, it also seemed old fashioned in some ways (that may be my own lack of rigour as a poet showing itself). It is beautiful. Must read again.
this edition also comes with some helpful essays and also some noted by Bunting on it (to the small extent he would comment at all) and also by him on poetry that I Greatly enjoyed.
A season in Hell and Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud in his collected poems trans/ Martin Sorrell.
I've had this book a long time, recommended by a friend, but whilst I had a very basic grasp about Rimbaud did not really have a full picture. Perhaps my lack of literature study made me unsure. I may also have been unsure of his bad boy reputation. i did try reading from the start - an madly given how i love poetry I may have been reading him to prosaically, even trying too hard, not free to him, which he definitely needs, demands.
I've still not read all the earlier poems - though yes i have some of the important ones, The Drunken Boat.
But I dived this time into these two famous collections. Both mostly made up of prose poems. Rimbaud, the young man that went to Paris, declaring the need to rationally derange his senses to become a seer -- perhaps you can understand caution. His life fascinating as it intersects with his poems, he followed up in life - oh how he did - and of course gave up writing poems at age 21. I'm now keen to follow up with biographies of him - I find this famous silence interesting, maybe a sign of what he had found and that he could find more in other ways. And for all his crimes, I found in A Season in hell the sign of a quest, there was an integrity to it, to his questioning of what was given, to find something - and he does, those last words, and yes honest at maybe what he'd found that way.
Much as A Season in Hell impressed me - the man critical of so much poetry for not being poetry but merely rhymed prose - how true, what a standard in lucidity -- it is with Illuminations that he has truly won my admiration. I since began my John Ashbery translation and as he rightly says 'Genie' is one of the most brilliant poems ever written - the whole collection works to this climax -- the integrity of his search illuminated -- he opens everything in some way, not last to himself. Awakenings, again and again, realised in poetry, shared. I need to be much more familiar to say more. And even as he finds this he's willing to move on, it is not everything. But it is a reminder of the everything beyond the everything we are easily given, that we may be lost in.
It may be suggested that he is very much a young person's poet - an adolescent crisis possibly that he resolved. I'm cautious - I've connected in some ways (and with some reserve) in middle age, though I may be asking myself questions of identity - I think he is a poet of honesty in finding his way.
Since reading him my taste has shifted a bit away - to Emily Dickinson - but I'll also be true to him and will go on to biography of him when I finish one of her.
I saw the film Adam's Rib last week - a Hollywood classic, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn directed by George Cukor.
In it Spence and Kath are a couple in love, both lawyers and end up on opposing sides in the court room in case of a wife shooting her no good philandering husband. This opens up a battle of the sexes between them.
Yet is a comedy in some ways - craziness in the court room for one, the realisation of the characters. Also lovely in some way when it shows the relationship between them, their loving ways. It also opens up the debate in a way that can seem safe, self consciously making us aware of its artifice, of the fluffiness of this space whilst at the same time giving us a taste of the powerful emotions. Needless to say their marriage is threatened. Yet they try to save it, returning to their Eden like country home to consider. And yes an uneasy ending, the dogs of this war have been let slip, are they so easily put away.
I said I was not sure what it meant. But it occurred to me it is very simple - really like Genesis in a way. They begin unquestioningly acceptant of each other, in love, in trust, in mutuality. However when they begin to examine the words that define, the words that separate and worse associate them with events and actions between them, then that sacred thing is lost. An Eden is lost. They have shadow of it when they return to the farm -- I wondered if that was uneasy -- I hope being there can help them heal it. It's really much broader than just being about the sexes...it's about how words distance us from potential mutuality - not just words but structures of ourselves and the world. In a way this is poetry, respect for mutual wholeness. Lose track of that and we're lost.
I've been thinking of spouting off here and elsewhere much less, this may help me do that. To get more careful with my words (a theme of my whole year). We all need that, in these times especially - to be respectful of that possibility in all of us, beyond division and material.
Maybe it could be rewrittten, but perhaps with a sequel to show how such relationship can be restored.
I think I'll be quiet here, at least for a while. Thanks for the clubs. Take care.
A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century by Jerome Charyn
I'm not really well acquainted with what is known about ED. But this was a thought provoking introduction that led me to read Adrienne Rich's essay 'Vesuvius at home' and has me working through my complete poems (just cast off) and now with more reading in mind. At times I found it repetitive in its dance of breaking stereotypes that I hadn't entirely built myself - I also found his tone (at times) a bit tiring - he muses over poems and facts with a looseness that was striking when thinking of ED, who seems to go about things a bit differently, to me anyway. At times there seemed some hyperbole in appreciation - and again that seemed strange, ED for me soars but in some way is grounded. I also didn't agree with interpretations at times, or felt there was more to be said or other tacks to take.
But overall I liked the book and often what he said, even as I was thinking I wouldn't say quite the same if at all - and where it all prompted me. I loved learning of her dog and for me a lot of useful background and overview of ED scholarship. Plus we get to hear a little from the discoverer of the second daguerrotype that may be ED. In some ways this is not a biography but a series of chapters, essay like, around themes, such as her dog, or her mother or influence on others - musings - and enjoyable and with a bit more substance (though I did not like the way the quotes were not noted fully until the end).
In the end as musings inspired by a personal appreciation of ED they can be inspiring. As personal also in some ways brave to share, perhaps. They'll be part of my own conversations about ED I am sure.
(see my post >39 tonikat: links list above for a long excerpt from this book, if you're interested)
I just can't stay away.
an unlikely possible trio of dinner guests is playing in my mind -
Emily Dickinson (who stops by while out with Carlo), Arthur Rimbaud and Vincent van Gogh - contemporaries, I suppose it'd have to be after 1870 for AR, so Carlo would be gone, but this is fantasy.
Anger and Hatred
When one person decides to harm another for everyone’s sake, the hurt person may decide to repay the first with evil, and so people bring harm to each other while thinking they are acting in the best interest of all involved. This is exactly what is happening in the world today.
If only we could imagine ourselves in the place of others, we could eliminate our feelings of mutual hatred. If we mentally put others in our place, we could vanquish our pride.
The best way to fight someone’s anger is to say, “Let’s pity this person!” As rain is to fire, so compassion is to anger.
There are people who like to be angry. They like to yell, interrupt, and lecture others. These people are unpleasant. We should also remember that they are very unhappy, for they do not know the joy of a good mood or happiness. Rather than be angry at them, we should pity them.”
Tolstoy - Wise Thoughts for Every Day, 1909 (trans P. Sekirin)
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
It feels a long time since I read a crime novel. I've read quite a few, Chandler (most of), Hammett (long ago), a few others, Conan Doyle when I was a teenager, or before. It was good to remind myself of other approaches to the world.Not good in its crime content, yet good in its outlook and investigation of its story.
I got to Wallander through the second Swedish series when it was first shown here. I quite like the original Swedish series and its star and also can happily watch Kenneth Branagh as Wallander and recently enjoyed the end of the fourth series (I missed the final episode of the second Swedish series). It was Krister Henriksson I visualised as I read this.
An excellent novel - interesting police procedural I guess. But really that hides its intense curiosity in the world and in people, most of all in Wallander himself, caught at a difficult time and tested severely. I wondered if I could begin to see signs of what happens to him later, could his drive and focus be something that burns him out? (Am I projecting a bit from a very different standpoint?) I saw a quote I think from an interview i think with Mankell, or maybe it was of a review of that second Swedish series, that suggested his journey is not unlike Dante's except without any Virgil. It is certainly a very well thought through fiction, most enjoyable. Last year I read The Forest of Hours (also Swedish) and I have the Kerstin Ekman's very highly recommended Blackwater to read - maybe I will try that next and think about difference in style. But I aim to read the rest of the Wallander series.
I was struck at one point in the novel, when Wallander found ten minutes of respite at the ye of the storm that Mankell comments that he does not turn inside very much, which, of course immediately seemed both part of his strength and a flaw - I really enjoyed that depiction of him as a police officer, it felt very real in its grasp of the person. Going back to drive and all he was going through with his soon to be ex-wife, his father, his daughter never mind himself in all that and his job - how much he seemed to need time to do just that - and how his life conspired not to give him time to do that, find his way to being at his best, as it simply demanded him. Much to think on there. Its interesting later in the novel how the case pans ot as space is made and connections come -- and there is a kind of magic to that denouement, possibly, somehow the time comes.
I've started reading Emily Dickinson throughly, who seemed to manage her life so she could be in touch with herself to write her poems, at least for some years and try to do so, but it is interesting how hard this can be, how in some ways it may be tempting to find a community that allows it. This book also spoke of a way of life that is in one of those front line services that works with wherever the population has got itself, and how much that can demand.
>58 .Monkey.: why ty :) hope you enjoy. Have you seen any of the tv series?
I have not, I don't think I was even aware they existed. Well now I'm curious! Hahaha
they are worth it - especially the Swedish series with Krister Henrinksson, you'll need subtitles, but well worth it.
I happened to read this - https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/09/30/nietzsche-find-yourself-schopenhauer-as...
the final quote seems remarkably relevant to this thread this year, how it began, but also to all my threads, maybe all or threads:
"There may be other methods for finding oneself, for waking up to oneself out of the anesthesia in which we are commonly enshrouded as if in a gloomy cloud — but I know of none better than that of reflecting upon one’s educators and cultivators."
- Friedrich Nietzsche from Schopenhauer as Educator.
and another June article - there were surely more but I've lapsed tracking them
Thanks for the link. Do you subscribe? The unexpected and unexpectedly dark image by Tove Jansson of Alice down the rabbit hole seemed quite apt.
>63 SassyLassy: yes it does Sassy, I am both down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass and I suppose thirdly also up the proverbial creek at the same time, perhaps, or maybe I'm just hyperbolic.
I don't subscribe but I get suggested their pages a lot on my FB feed (the shame, yes FB).
Meanwhile, Trees by Mark Waldron
I read this the other day - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/26/meanwhile-trees-mark-waldren-poetr...
and bought the book.
Whizzed through the first half, but slowed in the second just due to being back at work.
I found it very enjoyable, mostly. he's very smooth, in a good way, with his poetry. Skilful and musical too, at best. Quite surreal too, which you may guess I like - i liked his Prof. Hydrofoil, yes a real Hydrofoil amongst the humans. Many other poems to love as well. he seems to be writing from some repose in a high place looking back at times. In some ways he reminded me of Timothy Donnelly whom, you may have read before, i like a lot - there is as the article says at times an Elizabethanness-that's also wholly modernness about him that i also associate with Donnelly. Towards the end of the book is a sequence about one Manning (not Chelsea I think) that i did not enjoy as much - it had its moments, but no. Now I got to the end I see he has other collections I may try. Fun, annoyingly good in fact - much more refined than me, perhaps. there is a poem in the article above, so i won't add any other excerpts here.
Oh i do like the dreamy surrealism and freewheelingness and yes at its best the musicality of that that then may hit paydirt. I'll have to read it again.
I just found this, if you're interested - http://www.praccrit.com/interviews/i-am-lordly-puce-and-done-interview-by-franci...
on my one reading I liked the Manning poems least of the collection - there was a stretch to them though they did have moments I liked, but a stretch, a cleverness maybe i did not so much. Having read the interview I may have t reread - I'm also in the middle of my working week, so less open to it than I was when i read the first half.
- https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/may/17/clouds-of-sils-maria-review-juliett... - career best? in her career? not important
- https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/17/thoreau-walking/ though the idea of Crusades is unfortunate in today's context, any times maybe, I like this, i began this book ages ago, maybe I should go back to it - on the other hand I've been practicing
>65 tonikat: interesting link to the Guardian and Waldron's poem was a lot of fun.
>67 baswood: yes - I liked the collection a lot, might you be interested? I may tire at times of the tone, perhaps, but then whose tone is always right.
Rimbaud by Graham Robb
I finished this today, it leaves me in a whirl perhaps, dizzy on all he did - of course he'd have no truck with that - and I'm not in a whirl too, of course, but unsure of him of course, yet also sure.
Edit -- I should add a precis of his life, many won't need it, but, lest you do. Rimbaud was a young frenchman, star pupil at school, brought up sternly studying hard - rebelled against it all, with a backdrop of Franco-Prussian war (he partly witnessed) and Commune (which he was present in). Made several attempt to leave home. When he really went for it he's presaged it with two seminal literary letters in which he set out a wish to rationally derange his senses to become a seer.
Did leave when invited to meet Verlaine - whom he was intimately associated with, apparently in a gay relationship. He had some poems that wowed a few, but his outrageous behaviour put the conservative literary establishment against him. Verlaine left his wife (with not a little encouragement) - they lived in London, they argued. they ended in the aftermath in brussels, where Verlaine shot him and ended up ruined (subjected to physical examination) and in Jail.
A Season in hell was published after this - autobiographical, or somehow double autobiography (he pictures a demon, that seems must have been he himself) but also fictional and quite quite visionary. Later he gave a manuscript that became known as illuminations to Verlaine, the last time they met. he wandered, sometimes returned home - began drifting further and further. Gave up his first class poetry by the age of 21. Ended up via Cyprus (where according to this biography he may have accidentally killed a man) - to end up in Aden, first as a coffee trader with a larger house, then at Harar Ethiopia, one of the first white men there - an a success there who came to know and explore the region, esteemed in what he did by others. Ran guns there to the future emperor, Menelik. But his adventures forestalled by his terminal illness and need to return to France.
And I do not do justice to the richness, the wildness, the size of his revolution and seeking, the breadth of his experience, mind and all. A man who wrote poetry tat has influenced any in later times, who predicted others would be like him - Dylan, Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, countless poets, others. Yet who'd been rejected by his poetry establishment, though this book argues he knew his reputation was growing (along with hagiography he'd have seen for what it was).
- oh and the poems - playful, outrageous, swimming in forms to their limits and then beyond, master of convention that unpicked form and meter - came to write prose poems - utterly brilliant, heart, soul, mind, vision.
Yet words to be cautious of at times - no one way to understand them. I find they retain a spirituality, questing - but they may challenge very much, ourselves, convention they challenge, seem angry with.
- end of edit.
First let's say the obvious - his bad boy reputation is throughly deserved, a person on any day to be wary of, especially in his writing years and in his later years if trading with him. I've heard his crimes outnumber his poems.
Yet there is something I like about his poems. I may have tried to say above, some sort of integrity to his quest. I am kind of new to them, must read them again - I understand better that the later poems may be post christian for him. the poem Genie though seems deeply spiritual.
Perhaps it makes perfect sense he was as he was, his absent father, his harsh/disciplinarian mother and the regime he studied under, his adolescence in a country at war, his witness to death and destruction -- and amidst this no wonder his rebellion, not so unusual at such an age may have been as it was - not to mention being caught up in the Commune, the spirit of those times, anarchy and the boredom of convention. Then possible homosexuality, though of course that could have been part of a rational derangement. Where can i start - I'm hardly even touching what he did and wrote - what it may mean, maybe this is why it can feel a whirl. He gives the impression, though this cannot be wholly true, of having imbibed western civilisation and poetry and telling the truth back to it, rebelling against it all. I wonder what he did not understand, or could not trust.
Yet the later Rimbaud shines through in this biography - as successful (in the face of challenge - was it that he dared not show his face in France for example), but impressive, a pioneer in East Africa who made his mark and whose life was cut short in the midst of that. There is much to admire there - and a sense of a personal version of his mothers steadfastness - yet a way with people, yet at the same time always distant and distrusting. That I find sad, yet it may be I am simply a simple optimist in faith and something more and in others. And yet read the poems, I see evidence of one tuned to such questions again and again, said Genie for example, and perhaps his austerity in this is afterall based on his experience.
Incidentally - I have an idea of some forms of rebellion and revolution as coming sometimes from a secure base, from which revolt can be made. I know this is not always the case - maybe I speak most intellectually. I also think of that scene in the film Pan's Labyrinth, where the little girl stops to eat from that subterranean feast, when she has succeeded, exactly what she was told not to do, sinning amidst her success, or richness. And I think about the young Rimbaud, communard perhaps, anarchist, poet of truth telling to Parnassians, and think of the firm, stable background he had that yes had to be rebelled against - and yet to which as Robb points out he returned frequently, despite his travels in nearly his first decade of travelling, making most winters a stay in the Ardennes. I don't know exactly what it means but it seems relevant. And in his later adventures, and crimes yes or ethically questionable behaviour, how this speaks of that stable ground, that occasionally could still erupt.
A poet and a man to think about. Ongoing, I have Starkie's biography from the library, but must try some other things first.
"God lives in every kind person"
Leo Tolstoy, Wise Thoughts for Every Day, 3 January.
A special place for this review:
I've always felt a bit bad about my reading of A Shropshire Lad in 2009 - or my post about it. First I usually always like to be positive and accepting for any writer - how dare 'critics' presume they know what the author means better than the author - 'too many notes Mozart'. Yet I also try to respond honestly with how I feel on reading the poetry - and yes I did have a strong feeling about this overall, yet I've always felt dissatisfied with my attempt to explain how I felt, partly as i do not think have yet found the words for that, partly as it is wound tight to my core, how much do I need to explain that reaction. But also I always felt sad as to the many lovers of Housman I may have seemed just some yahoo, which I never like to seem, yet it's possible when you react with how you feel, when I do, I've found a part in such a place that wasn't the younger me.
I'm not sure I want to reread it, though this book looks interesting. I'm not sure I want to try to find those words, or make my explanation fuller. But I do know I don't insist I must be right, and must respect such a figure. Something resonated for me in reading the poems, that was very familiar to me, and which I know is not a good place for me to be, that maybe sums it up. Just a very personal reaction, that I should be careful to attribute more widely. Maybe I should reread to check that tone is there from my perspective now.
Enjoyed your thoughts on Rimbaud, and interesting about your struggles with Housman.
Thanks Dan. I'm not sure I'll go back to Housman, especially not as having finished Rimbaud I've found it a bit hard to move on to more. Rimbaud upsets me in a way, of course, there is not much sense of repose in him, though it must be there given the quality of the poetry - I think of his Parisian early mornings, or his boot by his heart, it is there in the poems - but it is a sense I have thinking back on reading of him, of fury really, of course he had such a packed life. I am back at Hunter Davies' biography of Wordsworth - which whilst perhaps an introduction is full of lots of information - and is about a man whose life work (The Prelude) was meant as an introduction to a larger life work 'The Recluse', never completed - which is more in keeping with my own sensibility I think, for the most part, not in quite the same way undoubtedly, as we're all injected with a hyper dose of it all through our culture, very hard to live as reclusively, very easy for life to pull you (me) into all sorts of mistake. So, yes feeling a bit mixed up by Rimbaud, not the time for Housman for me. Difficult times for all, madness in the world, finding the ways to heal, find faith there is more to humans and dream ways for people to avoid mistake, myself, try to find good.
- https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/08/book-up-for-a-longer-life-readers-... - must desist on articles! I hope poetry counts...read on dear folk (and is that Derek Walcott on the picture?)
- India, remember poetry! http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/poetry-books-are-not-always-financ...
"Difficult times for all, madness in the world, finding the ways to heal, find faith there is more to humans and dream ways for people to avoid mistake, myself, try to find good."
Amen. (Even if it had more meaning when you originally posted it than today. ) Wish you faith in finding the good.
Thank you Dan. It seems making the mysteries of life and our best solutions to them live is more important than ever at the moment, it always was, is, will be - and clarifying how little we know and why it is helpful to understand each other and accept each other. One day maybe we will, hopefully not before we've ruined the earth and many more of each other.
not meant to be a sermon, just needed. sadly by me as much as for anyone else.
In reading I am loving Wordsworth's The Prelude (1850). A sensibility needed and relevant now.
The Mystical theology of St. Denis
the first of the texts in The Cloud of Unknowing. It was very beautiful - talking of the impossibility of knowing God, of approaching through negation of knowing, of God beyond knowing and unknowing. It made me think a bit of Heidegger, also taoteching, especially when it spoke of darkness. My words may never do it it credit, so I'll desist and read on to The Cloud of Unknowing.
Julian of Norwich: Counsellor for our Age by Brian Thorne
- there was a television documentary in July, when I was on holiday, about Julian, her history and the history of our encounter with her revelations. I thoroughly enjoyed that and hope to read her revelations.
I remembered Brian Thorne had spoken of her, both in things I had read and a lecture I saw him deliver. I'd long meant to read her and of her - and the documentary certainly prompted me to. I found this lecture pamphlet was available - a lecture he delivered in 1999, it includes part of a chapter from a book that included a previous address. Brian Thorne for those that don't know is a leading theorist and practitioner of Person Centred Counselling in the UK. A professor of such, now retired i think, mainly based in Norwich.
He speaks in this lecture at first at his despair for society at that time, how it had accepted values that he felt threatened wellbeing, do not foster personal growth, set the material above the spiritual. Further how counselling organisations seemed to have accepted the effect of this state of affairs on funding etc etc...and ways of working that set goals and targets and results that can be measured as by an accountant ahead of those that he felt were what really counted, yet harder to quantify or superficially or according tot he social status quo to justify. Plus research that seemed to feed into this, measure what was wanted. So he surveys this and then turns to a brief survey of Julian and her message of hope precisely despite and in face of the deepest despair - of ways in which the times he faced in Norwich were similar to those he spoke of and yet also different - and ways in which her message may help now, in this material, competitive, fractured world, post holocaust and so much else. Not views you see readily shared in mass media now, for all that he is so respected in the counselling world. A lovely lecture and it primes me further to read Julian.
The After Party by Jana Prikryl
I found this collection having read this review by Charles Simic - http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/08/18/jana-prikryl-consolations-of-strangen... I see I'd missed it as an early reviewer possibility.
What can, should or would I say in addition? Little, let's start with a little.
I've read it fairly slowly, the first part a few poems at a time. Often not getting them entirely, which is no doubt down to me and my own lack. I find Ontario Gothic (reproduced in the review above) clever and sharp and upsetting. I loved the series that tumble from Tumbler especially this first.
I'm wondering, just wondering, as I review the poems of the first part, if part of what I find hard is the transitions she makes from something that seems very personal, and which I may not have quite have got, to something very specific and powerful - specific and also general...and whether that is upsetting in a couple of ways. I may not agree. I may still be bothered I haven't quite understood. I may want some other way out. I don't know - I have not read all of the first part again.
I suppose my other favourites are The Moth, Crackers and Landscaping which may betray my own leaning to the (apparently) personal -- and perhaps dislike for what Simic identifies in her not explaining herself. Though I do not see that as something unusual in so much modern poetry where we need to hear the key correctly for it to open -- and it may be here that I have yet to stumble onto such keys for many of the poems of the first part.
But the poems of the second part - Thirty-Thousand Islands - are an achievement as Simic says -- they're a dream-like free form flowing it seems, like cloud watching -- yet also not, they are also wonderfully precise, scientifically so at times. Yet here too I feel some pain in this section, the distant Mr Dialect, something unrecognised, perhaps mutually...but I cannot say, it may all be fiction, it may be also an invention in me, there are hard edges to these rocks and I yearn to hear a flood of the lyricism that is also here . . . and to know more . . . I could hope there are more islands, more exploration...as I type I think of Bergman's Summer with Monika. Maybe that's just random. I also have a sense - and i have only read the series twice - of Mr D being well observed, an intimacy in that, but not of connection or understanding that and that is something I'd like to know better...without it, and this may be the point, but he remains something of a rock...maybe that is it...typical me, doh.
But I like what Simic says of such occasional poetry, that and this poetry, is prompting and promising and interesting.
There, more than a little. Hopefully not too much. Maybe nonsense and specific to me.
>81 baswood: do you mean reviews on LT (as it was an early reviewer book) or reviews in general?
Yes reviews on LT. I did note that it was an early reviewer's book, but still surprised by the number of people reading and reviewing it.
yes I can understand, I was impressed too, good to see so many would and maybe were prompted to do so. From the review I posted she seems to be well connected in lit circles. Good on her I say, poets do so badly in our material economy yet are so important, bit like how we never pay the sun. Maybe I have a vested interest. She may give me ideas.
As to other poetry I've enjoyed some of your recent posts, but have to catch up when I really get time.
- read this last year, they are playful - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/21/40-sonnets-don-paterson-review-pla...
My Years with Apu: A Memoir by Satyajit Ray
I saw the second film of Ray's Apu trilogy, Aparajito, last Friday. A most beautiful film, inspiring. I've meant to watch them for years, but didn't, even when I had a recording of them. Idiot.
Loved it. Now hope to see the others soon. It led me to read of him (and from him on to his father and grandfather - I'm enjoying his father's nonsense verse at the moment, in Wordygurdyboom!)
So I came to this memoir - that last book he wrote - though sadly not the last version of it he wrote, the final version having gone missing from the room he died in. What a loss - of him and of this book. This version is constructed from the first draft by his widow. And wonderful.
For those not in the know - Ray was an Indian film maker, from Bengal - Calcutta. The Apu films are based on a classic Bengali novel and it's sequel, Pather Panchali and Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, novels I'd now like to read for their depiction of a culture, way of life and change in that - and also for the wisdom apparent in the film version, I understand it is autobiographical, of the hero's struggle between west and east, but in a way with staying true to the poetry within him (as I see it), that especially interests me and how he hides and yet seems to re-find what he loves from himself. A story of the son of a priest, of his family, of his childhood and development into adult life.
Perhaps I should not say so much, having seen one film so far.
I read this book in a couple of days having seen the film - its a very clear account of those days for him. To some extent of his influences. of how he came to adapt this book. Of the process of becoming a film maker (he began in advertising having trained as an artist). He shows how he'd always been interested in film, began to criticise it, met Jean Renoir, went to Europe and saw a ton of films (there and at home), but was especially influenced by Italian neo-realism as he finished the draft of the screenplay of Pather Panchali especially by Bicycle thieves.
He is great at being very specific about elements of making the film - specific incidents in the process. I felt he did not say much in overview of his view of and feeling for the story - though yes it does come out in a way in those specifics. And of course we are fortunate to have how it shows itself int he magnificent film I saw last Friday - which at first i thought may have been autobiographical of himself, but no, he was very different - but yes the story itself perhaps (need to learn more of that) and surely also in that, as Sartre has it 'the ontology of the writer makes itself known in the novel', his own must have slipped into this realisation. And in this book too, for all he does not hammer in a view, its a very open book that really gives a feeling of meeting and learning from this master.
I've just read chapter four of Andrei Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time. I've struggled to get into this chapter for sometime, due to no big block - if anything it may have been that really I've still been thinking about the fantastic chapter preceding. But, anyway - this is is great reading too.
But why post before logging another whole notch on my bookmark?
In this chapter he speaks powerfully of the idea of "search" in art and what a confusion it is. He says there is no comparison between the person out walking the woods looking for mushrooms and the person that has found a basketful - and that is what the artist has done, found something (he cites for example Picasso saying "I don't seek, I find").
As a writer I know this - really I do. Yet maybe a daring thing to say, that may tempt a label of arrogance from those that don't understand.
I definitely know that in writing poems that I have been through a process of seeking them at one time, even as I did not do that in certain obvious ways, but have had to let that go to let them happen as they need, find my own way, especially with a kind of rhythm to writing, and reading.
And reading is why I am here, in this post, this thread this site. So of course, my title for this year's thread suddenly may seem confused, not in keeping with getting anywhere, not a true path in a way. Though maybe reading is a bit different - or is it?
To quote Tarkovsky:
"Nothing could be more meaningless than the word 'search' applied to a work of art. It covers impotence, inner emptiness, lack of true creative consciousness, petty vainglory. ' An artist who is seeking' - these words are merely the cover for a middle-brow acceptance of inferior work. Art is not science, one can't start experimenting. When an experiment remains on the level experiment, and not a stage in the process of producing the finished work which the artist went through in private - then the aim of art has not been attained." (p95-96)
Of course immediately I am reminded these notes are only rough notes - just that. Yet I've always attempted to write of how I respond in feelings and thoughts to the books on my threads - and I've said I'm searching clarity, so if any is found it may mislead to label that as search and I think next year I will go for 'findings', or 'nuggets', or maybe even 'nougat' (this is a sticky issue after all).
And clearly I do aspire to clarity -- yet as with the poems, maybe it is best not to seek it as such, but let it develop.
In a way this has so far been a very rich year of reading for me -- and speaking of search and those first few (long, perhaps tedious) posts did yield nuggets already, in terms of thoughts about what it helps me to focus on, and so in terms of finding my own rhythm in my reading. That I have gained clarity on - it comes and goes, but has felt good, does.
Then a lot of my reading has also tended to finding this year - readings on Zen, on poets and poetry, and a lot of reading that isn't mentioned here, yet.
I don't claim to write posts as works of art. But maybe I tend more towards that - if i feel as Tolstoy argues (yes, we know I like him) that art is communication of feeling, and if I always wanted to communicate how my reading makes me feel, then maybe it is natural that to do that well I'd tend towards writing in a way that transmits that, which may have art to it. I know I step away from certain ways of writing a factual review.
But this is also a place of rough sketch...let's not ruin it by setting too much of a goal. But maybe it is also a mark of how deeply connected reading and writing can be, and as a writer, that I note these comments and immediately think of this thread.
Perhaps I've played less here amidst this years seriousness (these years'), its a few years since I posted things throwing myself into say Salinger's voice. More play then and nougat...
You can't go wrong with nougat. Enjoyed reading your thoughts about reading and writing.
on to some nougat then . . .
Play all: a bingewatcher's notebook by Clive James
A very nice idea of a book, reflections on the box sets he's been watching, especially since he was ill. And so part memoir - but also personal commentary on said box sets, amidst what is known as this golden age of television.
I've not watched a lot of this said golden age myself - in fact mostly I have watched in reaction to learning of it from others and in the last few years have seen some of it - but much still missed - I've seen moments of the Sopranos and almost none of Game of Thrones (I share his doubts about dragons, but also about violence, very much).
It's a lovely book in a way, generous and sharing this experience with the benefit of his own tv experience. Some very nice observations at times. He's especially taken by the witty dialogue of Aaron Sorkin in The West Wing. I'm not sure i agree with all his comments. i was amused he dislikes WW so much in Breaking Bad - as he is so uniformly taken so seriously. I just liked him fighting that tide and his comments in doing so. i do take WW seriously - but after what happened in series 2 I had no wish to know any more of that man, important as it may be later, I wonder sometimes if I should. But no.
So, in a way he prompts me to watch more and complete some and start some i have not (even Game of Thrones??). But he is good on saying how this had to go hand in had with reading and pointing out how reading allowed some of the dimensions of his thought -- i can see how we may have such dimensions anyway, but reading definitely helps them. I suppose he too tends to find, and is very clear when he does not (The Pacific as compared to Band of Brothers say).
Messenger of the Heart: the book of Angelus Silesius with observations by the ancient Zen Masters translated by Frederick Franck
A wonderful wonderful book. I've read it twice. A book to live with like my Tolstoy wise words for everyday or Zen Mind, beginner's mind.
Angelus Silesius was the name taken by Johannes Scheffler on his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1653. His name Franck suggests a translation of as "God's Silesian Messenger". This was of course a deeply political change of faith at that time, after the Thirty Years war, in that place. Franck suggests that Silesius' energies were diverted by being drawn into conflicts with others, if I understand right, though perhaps such was unavoidable.
Angelus Silesius was a mystic and poet. He wrote several volumes. Franck suggests the best was that from which the poems in this translation were taken the Cherubinic Wanderer. Those poems were written during four days (no less) of revelation that Angelus Silesius experienced and Franck suggests the poems may have been written in the midst of that (and as such that they may be the best account we have of such an experience).
Frederick Franck was a sculptor, dentist, artist, thinker, student of Zen and Tao (and much more). I found his introduction to this volume quite brilliant, sharing understanding, opening understanding.
Franck explains that he came across Angelus Silesius earlier in his life but then accidentally happened on him later in life, after a lot of study and was very taken with him. He explains he sees in the mystical experience Angelus Silesius relates a great similarity with many of the points made by Eastern masters especially of Zen. This reassures him, i think, it did me, as a sign of mutual humanity and common experience, and Angelus Silesius as a meeting point in a way. And so this book - he translates Angelus Silesius, choosing about half of the verses from The Cherubinic Wanderer (some he is less taken with) and ordering them by several existential themes. Before Angelus Silesius in each section he presents quotations from Buddhism, especially Zen, and sometimes Tao too, as a commentary and to allow us to compare the eastern and western view.
To prepare as he worked he sketched plants in a garden he had found in New York and these are included too and are quite wonderful. Franck wrote and writes briefly here of how drawing is a way of approaching Zen for him, a yoga maybe. I want to read his book on this - if I ever get time to try to draw (I bought Ruskin on this in the summer).
I did find my progress, for all I was enjoying it, to be halting at first and finally realised why - it helped me no end to go through the book just reading Angelus Silesius first before I then went back and read the Zen as commentary and more Silesius. So, I read it all at least twice and as I say it is a book to keep going back to. I bought it on Kindle - which was fine, though the drawings meant the page formats meant a lot of white page at times, but hope to buy a hard copy, not to mention at least one copy for a friend.
Ah, and the content - the poems. Well what can i say, often simple verses and rhymes -- but verses and rhymes about four days of revelation of the divine. They are wonderful, they often have a Zen quality (Koan like even) but also a western aspect. I also mean to get another translation of all of The Cherubinic Wanderer to see whether another translator might give such a Zen quality to the translation (though this is no criticism, nor even a worry, I am just interested, and given I do not speak the original language).
It's a book it is a joy to read, not least for that introduction which for me reminded me of things i think i have heard Franck interviewed about previously. It prompted me back towards Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and also to other mysticism, both of which have been a theme for me this year. And as I get to this final sentence also realise this is indeed beyond the finding of nougat or even nuggets, what is found is the treasure of treasures that lies in the heart of us all, of it all.
>88 tonikat: . . . of course I think you do have to seek in order to find . . . Tarkovsky is big though on not making the mode of seeking what is found, the method...instead the method is just getting to show what is found I (as i take him - and he is suggesting there is more to be found than just the truth of the method...I take this as quite a classical view...and I like it . . . but I do have to practice seeking, but also allowing myself to find).
edit - pah - 'allow myself to find', you find or don't perhaps...perhaps allow yourself to know it/accept it....does it mean stopping finding another search, an/other method/s?
edit edit - does finding change seeking? some people find and stop seeking -- stuck, fossilised, petrified.
If you find do you hae to allow yourself to have found and then that may change seeking? But you (I) do need to keep seeking...but yes, allowing self to have found may change mode of seeking? May mean not wiping slate clean each time for a brand new method (hmm is that even possible)...or is it even possible that we get to define our method...it remains human this may be where the ancient gods come in, and later. . . maybe just trust that big method in us all, at different phases, knows where it has been...and not allow methods and finds to hide that.
thanks bas, glad about that, good to know you keep up - I've been bad at that in the club this year with others, never really good at it, but eager to read of all that Tudor poetry you've been reading and which I am badly read of really.
The times they are a'changin'
I'm a very happy person as to that, despite not believing in literary prizes.
What we may be.
Wall of gentle prompting gone, replacement may still be a bit under construction, but still need some prompts to help focus me, so a list of books I want to finally complete this year:
The Prelude - the 1850 version, William Wordsworth - was flying along, just more than half way through I think, but since holidays and summer stopped have been paused -- a plan needs to be specific (as many of us may know), so may try to read one part per day friday through to Monday. Won't have finished all the criticism by year end i am sure in my Norton critical, but hey.
Wordsworth by Hunter Davies - I got through the really prolific years, this is a very informative biography but sometimes that makes heavy going despite his readability - may have slowed up a bit thinking the main inspiration is over, but my opinion of Wordsworth grows and grows as i read the Prelude which he kept working on through his life, so will be very good for me to go on.
Something about looking at Blake also reminded me I'd like to finish my Collected poems of Dylan Thomas, the version he selected, which I was reading cover to cover, having often dipped in, and got stuck shortly after Altarwise by owlight. after that I have the recent complete poems, one day.
I also began The tartar steppe by Dino Buzzati which has been highly recommended to me and am determined to finish so i do not further extend my dilettante list of unfinished books. It's not altogether won me yet, part of its technique seems to be to not quite say but only hint...but open mind, open heart Toni dear, we shall see.
That's plenty to be going on with for now - you may have seen I'm reading Tolstoy's Wise thoughts for every day on a day by day basis this year, which has been fantastic for me. My reread of zen mind, beginner's mind has stalled but I may restart, but no hurry to have to complete again. There's loads else, i won't name all the poets and more, I'm reading Emily Dickinson too, which has been a most fantastic thing this year, even though still not that far in really..and diverted, find I'm more with her when not going out to work.
Oh and how could I forget - I'm also very much enjoying Conversations with kafka - apparently Janouch was an unreliable friend, but so much must be authentic, and it is a treat. But again, not of much mind to try and hurry this one. At the moment I will be sorry when it is over.
I'm posting these as i don't want to forget them, I got to the first through the second
Tolstoy's list set me off. I reread those early posts of mine this year, that I'd grown to see as confused and unclear and overlong, but they aren't really but are looking for something (something I wonder if it is findable, at least through the simple solution of doing it by just reading, just taking on board what other have written, their answer/s).
Lots else I could say, I'm going to think some more before I do. Maybe in review of the year. His list also makes me wonder what I have found important. I feel badly read and am a bit cross at that given how I like to read and always did - but given my remark above, maybe what needs to be found does not just lie in that landscape.
I've had a walk and made a list of rules for an experiment in focusing my reading more. In line with earlier thoughts. At one time on LT I was reading one book at a time. Things have lost focus -- though that in itself can be incredibly productive, so this set of rules is fine if it is broken, but will encourage refocus before drifting and as with any rules will need wise interpretation. I'm not going to list my rules (they are still under development anyway), but I like them right now, and they are there to get me focused again. We all have our own focus or ways of selecting books, dull to list my own (and we may need a 'Club Reading' or 'Club Process' at the rate I am going last few days).
If I don't focus when will I do these things I wish to.
I realise I didn't stick to my Shakespeare focus, that's in part due to other things going on, that have affected steady reading at times.
Thinking about all this I realise I sometimes get a claustrophobia in reading one author or book a lot. I got it with Proust, half way through vol. 1. I can get it with Shakespeare. It may not be the authors, it may be me getting into things intensely then need to break away from them. It happens a bit with Kierkegaard for me too. It may not be for the same reason in every case. Sometimes I wonder if they are claustrophobic, I also wonder if it is when my own reading of them becomes one dimensional, I can also wonder if this is when I need to stick with them to a turn. But I do break away after a while, or tend to. So, observing this is part of my experiment. Which I'll try not to break away from. I wonder if anyone else gets this? It can seem amateurish, yet I feel it can be healthy for me at some point in becoming immersed in a view of the world - lets me digest and come back later if I want, but also means things can get stalled.
century up for this year - I'm behind with a few comments, but a quick comment on having just seen the film Paterson d. Jim Jarmusch - beautiful, restorative, wonderful, a nourishing treat on a cold day, after a cold week, the sun will rise again, on past experience. Humans can be and so often are, wonderful.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
I was prompted to read this by reading of her forthcoming second novel and that John Berger had encouraged her to complete it. There is something about Berger I tend to like, and trust, so, this read.
It's a beautiful kind of wistful book as it looks back to a childhood - whilst at the same time to terrible things that define the present in many ways. In a way now, and maybe I should be careful of this, it might remind me of the Garden of the Finzi-Continis (a read I did not finish though I have seen the wonderful film) -- but that tone of doom mingled in with the wonder of childhood (here, youth I know in the Finzi-Continis).
It lingers in the childish view of the world and I thought captured that beautifully. The twins, Rahel and Estha, will stay with me a long time I am sure - but also others, the extended family, Baby Kochamma for instance, who in some way seemed a bit familiar whilst wholly strange. And the places and the change that we see and the events. But a poetry in all this - I loved the vision of Rahel and the building of meaning from small meanings, the incidents of life, building often to the sweep of the language and meaning as it does so.
It's wholly specific in terms of what happens to the twins and their Ammu, whilst also social as a comment on change in India, in ways of doing things. Beautifully done. The fragmentary episodes building to a whole, like reviewing some smashed classical urn, an awful beauty.
I'm looking forward to her next.
Westworld - wow, beautiful.
highly cognitive, appropriate for the medium? working in a way that is disconnected from mutual feeling? and so the point that when that disconnect is made, the dangers shown are possible - a comment not just on the future but in the need for feeling between people. It works in so many ways. And the path taken born of human inability to cope with what was discovered. a lesson to humans for a need to stand for what we need, struggle to be? but also I think an implicit question as to what else may be possible and what is lacking -- feeling as I said...but the danger of this perfect for the medium message, that the ways out of the trap of non feeling are missed amongst massacre? is it in its complexity somehow unsubtle? I'll have to watch it again. there is feeling in it of course, and maeve for example.
Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky
A book of poetics - film poetics, but really can be understood much more broadly. A wonderful book I think - written over many years, he himself points to a lack of unity in it when he reviews at the end. I see less lack of unity and more a development, refinement and clarification and improvement of themes.
In early chapters I got worried that this open method (as I saw it) was in itself a method and could be a trap -- I also got stuck I suppose. But it wasn't anything in the writing itself really that I objected to, though at times I almost had a sense that what he was saying must not be said, partly as such a potential trap you then have to work to, and get stuck in, thinking you are doing what you say whilst really you are just repeating. Yet this was not in his writing, which was vivid and alive, so much as in how I remembered it...and as I say he seemed to move beyond that, I stopped getting this sense.
I should talk of his films too, which are so fundamental to the book - as a part of its structure is that it reflects on them. I saw Solaris when I was about 18, on television and video repeats. I wonder now if I saw parts of Stalker another time, and part of Nostalghia once too. But really I came to his films in the last few years and was working my way slowly chronologically through them (I'd got as far as having seen Stalker). Mirror last year blew me away and was one of my favourite films seen last year - after seeing it I could not sleep until about 4, I was so enthused by it. But then this year we had screenings of all his films - I couldn't make Ivan's Childhood or Andrei Rublev or Stalker - but then saw Solaris, Mirror, Nostalghia and The Sacrifice and Stalker again when it was reshown. Beautiful.
I think though that Mirror may have been part of my stuckness with the book - I am not as in love with it now as I was. I think my favourite now may be Nostalghia. There is a consistent theme he has of disparagement of the poet's inwardness and lack of connection to others, that despite this he ploughs on into and wholly validates, celebrates. Mirror gives me that sense - a sense of a knot, but yes there is release. I was put off in the big scree screening of it though by the person sitting next to me, so must see it again. He has his subject well worked out in a very high sense - and it is that this very thing he notices that allows his films to turn as they do. Leaving them was a bit like leaving a meditation session, or a ritual.
Overall this is a beautiful book of poetic sensitivity. Clearly the films and the book also refer to some of his father's poems -- and I now have a copy of those I look forward to. A thoughtful feeling book on what is important - and one I tend to agree with very much, often it was like he spoke thoughts of my own or in close relation to them. The world is so often out of touch with such approach and is poorer for it and more frantic - what is more silly than a busy person (who said that, read it somewhere), the frantic world seems out of its mind on being busy and getting what it wants to have. These films, this book, are breaths of fresh air that trust common humanity, engage the real person.
It was seeing the films that spurred me on to finish the book and get beyond my block -- a block that really just may have been me. Though there was development in him. He concludes the book with a wonderful conclusion that considers the place of art in the world and the state of the modern world, so hooked on materialism - I typed in a paragraph in >3 tonikat:.
For me this was a profound book, full of insight after insight about poetics, poetry, film poetry and the relationship of art to life. Another book to look forward to rereading.
I'm a bit unsure whether to share this here - but it was also all part of a poem I wrote a couple of months ago, you can read about and read it here - http://disabilityarts.online/paper/
I'm really enjoying seeing others' poems - am sure I have not found them all yet.
Tarkovsky is a new name to me, here on your thread. I don't know anything about his film or his poetry but I enjoyed reading about him here and enjoyed your article on your poem Paper.
Thanks Dan - I hope you liked the poem too. (I was a bit unsure of posting as self publicity, and will be getting a separate LT account when publication happens (if it does, publisher in hiatus at present), and anyway all profit to them.)
Tarkovsky's films are wonderful, to me anyway. The poems are not by him but by his father.
Conjure by Michael Donaghy
I read this in his collected poems, but this cover gives some variety.
I like his poems very much and this collection may have been my favourite so far -- although it is some time since I read the others. His poems have great wit, great style. It's funny but that stays with me in lasting impression, but they also have great immediacy and emotion or feeling. I think I really need to dwell on them all more. The poem 'Annie' I was reading in a hotel lounge took me to the brink of crying in public when I first read it - maybe it chimed with my experience. I read the collection fast though - a lot in that sitting in the hotel on arrival. Need to go back more slowly over this and the other collections, when I finish my first read of his posthumous collection. I'd not planned reading this when i did and it really hit the spot when I did.
Blake and Antiquity by Kathleen Raine Kindle ed.
A friend suggested I read some of Raine's poetry some time ago - I've only managed a little, though I enjoyed it. But somewhere amongst that I became aware of her writing on Blake and especially Blake and Tradition which argues for him not as the eccentric/idiosyncratic and wholly original artist he's often seen as (read the first page of the Blake chapter in The Visionary Company for such that saw him as wholly original in his content), but instead sees him as following closely neo-platonic views of the world.
I'd long been interested - but it is very hard to get hold of Blake and tradition the kindle version is a couple of hundred pounds or more - as are hard copies. In the end I looked inside the kindle version (carefully!) and read the intro -- and after that no stopping me - I had to read this shortened version, Blake and Antiquity. You have to love an author, in their own abridgement, who wonders if anyone will understand it without having read the longer version. I now very much want to read that version too.
This book looks at Blake's work and understands it in terms of Plato, neo-platonism and western spiritual traditions including alchemy. A wonderful book that has warmed my heart and my ongoing reading of Blake, which I won't comment on, what would I say. It is wonderful, wonderful and most wonderful. I also want to read a biography of him. But other things may have to come first. An inspiration.
edit - I should add I read this on my kindle - I'd not advise that. The book is well illustrated. I'm not usually happy with that on a kindle - but further the places the book is illustrated are held in the text with an apparent link (or so it seems) - however the links did not seem to work for me and it was a labour going backwards and forwards to the section with illustrations, and the whole thing made it hard to appreciate the illustrations at the same time (which would no doubt have made the book even more phenomenal), Id' assume a hard copy would not be the bother.
further edit 13/12 - Raine speaks of Yeats being aware of Blake's relation to tradition - but says at one point that perhaps he didn't fully explain it out of the tradition of such knowledge, so it is not misunderstood or misused. It strikes me as a danger to not explaining it is that it does not get out there and on a day when I read of atrocity in a place so long civilised, that perhaps this is something we could change, be made clearer, where hope lies. (another edit - to wonder thus may lack knowledge, even faith?)
I think I've read this before -- but was especially relevant today, to my life in general and also having posted on the CR17 questions for the avid reader thread.
That post has led me to go through process similar to that in my early posts here to define some focus - again I have about 50 authors and this time I specified a number of categories of reading, to choose from as focus for a while. Since completing this recent bout of reading I have been in a bit of a lull - found it hard to get back into Wordsworth, have read bits of a number of things. So, hopefully this helps me focus. Will try to focus on these authors, having addressed one I'll then ask myself if they stay on this list or if I can move them to a reserve list and promote some other needy person to be read.
I suspect that even with this focus that what I may need is yet greater focus.
It occurs to me also that perhaps that focus is not just to do with who I read at all, but is about myself, and in Nietzsche's terms trying to get in touch with this looming true self and feeling distant at times. Part of that that what I need is to be very clear about what I most need when making choices, both immediately and in longer term. So about staying in touch with self but also about reading, and these people that may tend to delight and educate me towards a truer self, that may help.
I also realised that another factor in all this is the feeling badly unread of things I feel I really should have read, classics, so I may try to balance my focus towards that again a bit more - and of course classics may have a most direct route towards quality in understanding self (or no self) and world/universe/multiverse/ and even God.
I also often have the sense these things are well known to others, but I can only be where I am and get to where I need to try to. I must also read this Nietzsche in full, (must I?), and then there's Schopenhauer...oh another for the great list.
How on earth they can discuss Blake and not even mention Kathleen Raine's work and contextualisation of him beggars belief.
I've been puzzling over who this tonikat is, until I finally came back here. All clear now. Raine's book sounds terrific.
Sorry for any confusion Dan, I was trying to be subtle but clear. It's always good to know who'll still speak to me.
Raine is, I'm a total fan, though also enjoying Peter Ackroyd's biography now.
>113 dchaikin: I too was somewhat confused initially but a quick homepage visit quickly cleared things up.
>111 tonikat: Raine may need better distributors among other things. Every time I am in a bookstore, new or used, I look for her work and as yet have not found any. Maybe those who have books by her are clinging to them as defence against seas of bad poetry.
>115 SassyLassy: thanks, good to know it does make sense (and as I made my books private recently as an experiment that my profile still makes sense)
As to Raine, I see. I have wondered if it may be the wisdom she shares in Blake and Tradition is of a sort some may not want shared, but yes, most probably a distribution issue. I haven't tried to buy her poetry, that I got from a library.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (read on kindle and in paperback (edition above)).
An excellent book. I read in the introduction that it is more condensed than he usually is as it was published in weekly parts, leading him to condensation and concision. This was apparent in summary paragraphs that turned events and years, and also maybe some aspects not fully explained (as that introduction also points out, for example Darnay's actions about what he owns in France). I quite enjoyed this style of approach though, I found it very thought provoking.
What can I say of the novel - it is well known of course, so what can I add. If you have not read it it tackles the French Revolution and traces that experience trough the effects and affects on a small group of people in their pre-revolution lives, their contact with each other and through their experience of these events as far as the bloody events of late 1793 and into 1794.
What I want to say is how much I enjoy his writing and his thinking and feeling. It strikes me as holistic, religious even (as with my love of A Christmas Carol I feel a strong spirituality, even Christianity in the redemption we see). Carton seems to me to be the best drawn character here and fascinating he is, I felt a truth in him and in his choice. It's writing that had me in tears, at the end yes and at the beginning in that garret room in St. Antoine.
My edition's introduction makes a kind of pseudo-Freudian analysis of the relationships between Dr. Manette, Lucie and Darnay. It argues for the strangeness of the relationship between father and daughter and repressed rage with Darnay by the father. I find that a little sad, to make such an argument, when their is no hint really of anything strange but we see two people whose wounds may bind them to each other, may need each other in yes, a very different way to most father's and daughters, but in a wholly innocent and properly loving way - and not to have followed that course would be very hard to explain I think, they seem to be therapeutic to each other, such that without the medicine he would be at greater risk, she understandably has a father now she had never had.
There was a tender sadness throughout the book, a poetry, of Dickens' knowledge of life and such events. It may not be wholly accurate, but wholly satisfying, many passages of great pleasure. And sometimes quite unexpected passages, for me anyway, for though I love Dickens I must admit I have read him quite little really and not completed often. One such passage was this:
"So does a whole world, with all its greatnesses and littlenesses, lie in twinkling star. And as mere human knowledge can split a ray of light and analyse the manner of its composition, so sublimer intelligences may read in the feeble shining of this earth of ours, every thought and act, every vice and virtue, of every responsible creature on it."
I was not expecting that in a nineteenth century novel on the French Revolution. Something about his tone, also perhaps about the Manette's Soho house made me think a bit of Hawthorne and I wondered if he was an influence. There was something specific but I cannot remember what it was right now. I guess there is something in the suggestion of our past and our ancestors' past catching up to us, no, being with us. Anyway, maybe its not an odd tone for great writers to resonate with each other like that.
A most enjoyable, though also terrible, even frightening read. Carton must surely get a mention from Joseph Campbell somewhere and I'll look forward to that. It has me eager to read more Dickens and so I began Great Expectations, begun previously, though I've never got far.
Conversations with Kafka; second edition by Gustav Janouch
Janouch, a young man with an interest in art, a developing poet, introduced by his father to one of his colleagues, one Franz Kafka, makes diary entries of many of their conversations and the frequently remarkable things the great writer says as they meet and frequently walk around Prague.
A thoroughly beautiful book. I know Janouch is criticised as unreliable and also that dates seem mixed up -- but for me this book gave a flavour of Kafka, his concerns, his interests, his doubts, his real life.
It's a book I am sure I will go back to - read and reread. Personally it seemed very relevant to me. Sadly, or maybe inevitably, so much seems very relevant to the world now. Kafka's diamond thinking a joy, sometimes a painful or shocking one. A book to treasure. Now onto reading some Kafka I think, I hope.
Wise Thoughts for Every day: on God, love, the human spirit and living a good life by Leo Tolstoy
At the end of his life this was the work Tolstoy was most proud of. So I read in learning of this book, it may be in the intro. It went through previous versions that linked his wish to develop a calendar of going through his favourite reading, before it took this form. In this iteration he developed a number of themes that he visited each month e.g. Death, After death, God, Faith, Soul. He shares his thoughts on these, succinctly, sometimes with a favourite quote, mostly not I think.
It's been a wonderful book to read day by day (I've nearly aways managed to) through this year. I don't agree with absolutely everything - occasionally it may be dated, he tends to refer to mankind or man if I remember rightly rather than humans or people, and maybe does not reflect enough on gender difference. But hey, he's of his time, he's who he is. His response to Depression had wisdom in it but did not say it all, for me.
I'm sure it's helped me to read this book this year. Next year I may try the calendar made up of quotes and keep track of this book more loosely. I do wonder though if I did read it daily again if my own connection to it, to myself and more, might not deepen. I kind of have the habit too. I will miss it if I do not read it daily. At times the runs of these themes seemed uncannily in tune with my life. At others I was more distant. As a none churchgoer this was great sustenance.
To summarise and review my reading year.
The numbers first, though currently I feel like rebelling against counting, it does tell me a few things.
I make it a total of thirty-one, (including poetry, which I am not sure I should include as it’s always ongoing - seventeen without the poetry I think), also complicated by reading some very short things I did not count and some that are part of larger collections. My ‘Read 2016’ collection stands at 28. The numbers clearly recognise their own limitations.
I make it a paltry total of four women authors — rubbish of me, that’s 13%, a fall this year. Noted.
Nationalities read - I'm not fussed to do that right now, I’m never sure I’m right anyway with some of them - this doesn't matter to me so much for some reason - I’m sure I can read delightful and perfectly objectionable and somewhere in between people from almost most everywhere. Not that I don’t enjoy expanding my horizons by learning of places new to me or known to me already, but its not how I choose reading, pursuing other themes instead. But language written in, now that does interest me:
English - 24
French - 2
Swedish - 1
German - 2 (I think - Angelus Silesius — and Janouch’s book (am unsure of this, could it have been in Czech originally?)
A variety of eastern languages with zen sayings in Messenger of the heart I think
Russian - 1
(all in translation to English)
It would be nice to increase non-European language reading.
Publication dates also interest me:
1590s - 1
1650s - 1 (Angelus Silesius' original, the Zen sayings a huge mixture of dates most more ancient I’m sure)
1790s - 2
1850s - 1
1870s - 1
1880s - 1
1940’s - 1
1950s - 1
1960s - 2
1970s - 4
1980s - 1
1990s - 5
2000s - 3
2010s - 8
unknown to me - 1
I've greatly enjoyed my reading from other ages, something I'd sadly neglected for a long while. Many of these books I've wanted to read for so long, but somehow did not approach. It's a strange complicated thing I regret and which I haven't quite fully explained to myself. Maybe this is not the place. Not allowing myself what I loved.
Kindle books read - 16
hard copies - 15
What I've read by topic, quick count of all of them:
short stories - 2
poetry - 16
autobiography / memoir - 5
drama - 1
novel - 4
crit - 3
Zen - 2
Spirituality - 4
biography - 2
counselling - 1
poetics - 1
film - 2
my 2017 thread is here - http://www.librarything.com/topic/244499
To quality - favourite books - I’ve been very fortunate this year:
Top of my list is probably what I have read of Emily Dickson’s poetry and also Wordsworth’s 1850 Prelude, both ongoing as is my reading of Blake all a joy. Otherwise in order of reading:
The Labyrinth and An Autobiography by Edwin Muir
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, William Shakespeare
True Grit, Charles Portis
Illuminations, Arthur Rimbaud
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki
A Loaded Gun, Emily Dickinson for the 21st century, Jerome Charyn
Rimbaud, Graham Robb
Julian of Norwich counsellor for our age - Brian Thorne (not counted in my numbers as so short)
My years with Apu: a memoir, Satyajit Ray
Messenger of the heart: the book of Angelus Silesius with observations by the ancient zen masers trans Frederick Franck
Songs of Innocence and of Experience , William Blake
Sculpting in Time, Andrey Tarkovsky
Blake and Antiquity, Kathleen Raine
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Conversations with Kafka, Gustav Janouch
Wise thoughts for Every day, Leo Tolstoy
I must mention how enjoyable I was finding Tales of the German Imagination - the brothers Grimm, Hoffmann and Kleist in there especially and am trying to get back into it.
Wonderful last three books, Tony. And to think you more or less kept up with that Tolstoy every day. I really loved your commentary on Dickens Tale of Two Cities. And I'm intrigued by Conversations with Kafka.
the Tolstoy was not a lot to read daily, but myself staying focussed like that, well i'd never tried, maybe I'm motivated to now.
I did not say as much about Conversations with Kafka as I might - it is wonderful i think. I read the second edition which was expanded for reasons he explains at the end it is full of moral, political and artistic insights of the highest order, in my mind anyway, and a pleasure.
My 2017 thread is here - http://www.librarything.com/topic/244499
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.