Saturday, August 22, 2009

`All Those Damn Words'

Sad news arrived Friday from Elberry, proprietor of The Lumber Room:

“i've deleted my blog. i considered copying some of the less-bad posts to Word but couldn't be bothered. i feel great relief to have got rid of all those damn words. Elberry no longer exists. i shan't blog again.”

I hope this is bravado or a hoax. Wit, intelligence, broad reading and good prose are rare in the blogosphere. Here’s a sample of quintessential Elberry, from an e-mail he sent me on August 12:

“My writing and my life has been an attempt to stay close to the truth note - i am surprised by people who are able to veer from that substance to emptiness, and don't seem to realise their loss - especially writers who suddenly launch into political harangues. i feel it is moral work to try only to speak & write truly - whether in fiction or not - because i think evil very rarely advertises itself, but always attempts to pass itself off as necessity or, more often, as good. If we could only stay true, as much as possible, not just in our words but in our actions, we would be better people. This is just about the only way i see art as moral - i heard the truth note in, for example, Conrad or TS Eliot in my youth, so i knew there was something true, amidst the morass of misused language. i think if we can make our words ring true, others might hear and feel ashamed of hollow, brassy talk. i suppose this is one reason why poets had such a hard time of it in the USSR. Just to write a good poem about a stone would be to show up the official stodge for what it is.”

Among the books Elberry has sent me is a nice early edition of Conrad’s first novel, Almayer’s Folly. This sentence, long a favorite, seems appropriate:

“But a man busy contemplating the wreckage of his past in the dawn of new hopes cannot be hungry whenever his rice is ready.”

ADDENDUM: Well, it wasn't precisely bravado or a hoax, but Elberry is back as Elberry's Ghost.


ghostofelberry said...

i suspect Elberry's ghost will take up the matter again - but differently - i'm trying to work out how to blog without becoming trapped by my own words, my own facility. As yet i can't see how this is possible, but that doesn't mean i won't find a way.

ghostofelberry said...

i like to think of my life as a hoax accomplished with a certain saving bravado.

Buce said...

I suspect you could find a good deal of this stuff still cached somewhere. Internet ephemera lasts a long time.

Jim Murdoch said...

Having stopped and begun again several times in my life I can empathise with Elberry. Sadly though the worst judge of an author's work is the author himself. Thank God Kafka didn't have the strength to destroy his own work. I look back on poems I wrote ten, twenty and even thirty years ago that I know I was so pleased with at the time and I find it hard to get excited about any of them. Fortunately the natural hoarder in me has stopped me tossing the lot. Sadly the same can't be said for my music which is all gone bar one tune on a cassette somewhere and all that remains of my art are a couple of oils that my good wife found and framed and now hang in our living room. I will follow Elberry's Ghost with interest since I never got to know the man when he was 'alive'.