Friday, May 01, 2009

`Goods Intended for the Public'

Good things I found this week when I wasn’t looking for them:

“As I age, I grow more punctilious about my aesthetic debts: in Paris a few years ago I met Arthur Waley and thanked him for translating the Tale of Genji.”

--from The Earl of Louisiana by A.J. Liebling

“Also saw Jim [J.F.] Powers, and had a marvelous time, talking ironic banter with him, just as though no time had passed. Wonderful moment, John [Berryman] in his exaggerated way and unbelievable accent, saying, `Why this man is the best prose writer in America. He is as good as Chekhov. His “Lions and Hartes” [sic: “Lions, Hearts, Leaping Does”] is like “The Bishop!”’ Then Jim smoking, saying slowly face unchanged, `I don’t know, I always thought Chekhov wrote too much.’ Jim, buried in St. Cloud all these years is as confident as Randall [Jarrell], though all is irony. Now his novel [Morte D’Urban] is coming out [after] 11 years and should be a masterpiece.”

--from a letter by Robert Lowell to Elizabeth Bishop, April 14, 1962, in Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell

“Ever since I retired from medical practice, I buy at least a half of my books in charity shops, which accounts for the somewhat miscellaneous nature of my current reading.”

--from “Second Life” by Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) in the May issue of Standpoint

“Absence of heart – as in public buildings—
Absence of mind – as in public speeches –
Absence of worth – as in goods intended for the public…”

--from “The Chimeras” by W.H. Auden

“She said that books are already an accessory, you decorate your house with books and people have giant libraries displaying all that they've read and know. It shows that they are smart and well read. True. But when you tear out the pages and use the book cover as a bag, what does that say about you? That you can't read and only care about looks?”

--from “Caitlin Phillips is a Book Snob,” sent to me by an old friend at Rice University, who knew I would enjoy the atrocity. “Just please don't ask me how I wound up at this website. Porn would be less embarrassing, I think,” she said.


Anonymous said...

I am deeply in aesthetic debt with a bill that requires daily recalculation.

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." Eric Hoffer

Honey Melody
Washington State

Anonymous said...

"My values in literature and life remain essentially the same but my ability to articulate them has improved. What I write today doesn’t embarrass me nearly so often as what I wrote then."

No. But someday it will!