Antonín Dvořák

Listening to Dvořák, imagining the streets of Prague. When my thoughts should be arriving at the allegories of Plato. Drifts to Kafka and Kundera again. Back to Cephalus, and then again I check back to Czech. Oh, why is my mind always somewhere else? 


John Steinbeck: On Getting Started

It is usual that the moment you write for publication—I mean one of course—one stiffens in exactly the same way one does when one is being photographed. The simplest way to overcome this is to write it to someone, like me. Write it as a letter aimed at one person. This removes the vague terror of addressing the large and faceless audience and it also, you will find, will give a sense of freedom and a lack of self-consciousness.
            Now let me give you the benefit of my experience in facing 400 pages of blank stock—the appalling stuff that must be filled. I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone's experience which is probably why it is so freely offered. But the following are some of the things I have had to do to keep from going nuts.
            1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
            2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
            3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn't exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
            4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn't belong there.
            5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
            6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

And what do I think?

Perhaps these are some of the most motivational words my eyes have ever seen. Not that they are poetically appealing. But in the absolute simplistic construct that they are arranged; I fall. Finally, some things make sense to me. But of course the practice is what scares me.

I find the most brilliant (it's hard to choose, but I've narrowed it down) insight in this interview to be the request to not stop and edit. Sort of impossible-or is it? I'm manifesting this as I type now...It's working. But such an oddity for my usual typing. Don't stop. Keep going, going, going.

What do you think?


the wisest words ever said

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write."
-Saul Bellow


Paris Review: Saul Bellow

From the Paris Review 
Winter 1966

It's been said that one can't like both Lawrence and Joyce, that one has to choose between them. You don't feel this way?  
No. Because I really don't take Lawrence's sexual theories very seriously. I take his art seriously, not his doctrine. But he himself warned us repeatedly not to trust the artist. He said trust the work itself. So I have little use for the Lawrence who wrote The Plumed Serpent and great admiration for the Lawrence who wrote The Lost Girl

Your context is essentially that of the modern city, isn't it? Is there a reason for this beyond the fact that you come out of an urban experience?

Well, I don't know how I could possibly separate my knowledge of life, such as it is, from the city. I could no more tell you how deeply it's gotten into my bones than the lady who paints radium dials in 
 the clock factory can tell you.  

You've mentioned the distractive character of modern life. Would this be most intense in the city?

The volume of judgments one is called upon to make depends upon the receptivity of the observer, and if one is very receptive, one has a terrifying number of opinions to render—“What do you think about this, about that, about Vietnam, about city planning, about expressways, or garbage disposal, or democracy, or Plato, or pop art, or welfare states, or literacy in a 'mass society'?” I wonder whether there will ever be enough tranquility under modern circumstances to allow our contemporary Wordsworth to recollect anything. I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness that characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction. 


list of lovelies

Things that are lovely about summer & starting anew.

  • Spending time in the sun reading Saul Bellow.
  • My mother reading Simone Weil on the couch, au reverie!
  • Many a nap outdoors.
  • Bike rides and thoughtful walks.

I had been thinking aloud in the usual way,  and until he interrupted I hadn't altogether realized how upset he was.  The very ends of his hair showed it as well as the blue gaze of his disturbed eyes, very much dilated in their figure eight frame. The tilt of his upper body when he said, "Let me tell you about yesterday," made me say to myself, "Oh-Oh!" And the of the roundness of his head took on a different aspect. It had never occurred to me before, but a head as round as that was born to roll.

Par mon amour Saul Bellow.


C'est Saul (part one)

I wanted to write in length on Saul Bellow, but instead I think I'll do it in clips. It's likely that the next month of my entries (or longer) will be on him with a brief introduction to his longtime friend Allan Bloom.

To coin him as an “intellectual” or a fascinating man is and absolute understatement. But I don’t know where else to begin. So on that note, here's Saul Bellow.

To list all but a few of his numerous accomplishments would be extensive, but I can will be as brief, but in as much detail as I feel is imperative. As per the last entry, birth and origin are not much of a concern or interest to me. His early education and associations made throughout his academic years are worthy of biding over.

Bellow began his studies at the University of Chicago, then later moved to Northwestern University where graduated with honours in Sociology and Anthropology. His ability to have in depth observations of human activities make for brilliance in his works. Here are some astounding and astute descriptions of some of the characters in More Die of Heartbreak. Some humorous and beyond witty, others are saddening for the soul.


Love was apparently the cause. Benn had fallen for the daughter of Cohen the Tailor. She was slight, pale, pretty, said mother. "Only malnutrition can give you that wonderful look. After a few months here I can tell you that. The Cohen girl had a thyroid surplus and an iron deficiency. You have to live in the back of the tailor shop and sleep in a room without a window to have that kind of charm".

The performers were identified on placards as Miss Osaka, Miss Tokyo, Miss Nara, Miss Yokohama, Miss Nagasaki. They wore brocaded kimonos and ceremonial obis, they had on clogs and carried paper parasols, their hair stood high, their faces were chalked and painted. Each little maid from school sang in a sweet tremolo. After this preliminary put-on they got down to business, like strippers the world over. These were particularly pretty, dainty girls. Then two a time, these young things entered a plexiglass stage.

I could see that Uncle's reputation as a humorist may have been based on cross-cultural misunderstanding. The junior colleagues laughed a great deal, perhaps out of politeness. (Once again, politeness: Politeness gets finnier the more the rules of order disintegrate).


Describing any characters to a further degree in this novel would be detrimental, as per I'm not writing a book review.

I want to be careful but expansive with my writings on Bellow, well researched. That takes time.  I'm fixated so I will not stray. Part two of manymanymany will appear this weekend.


Simone Weil

Une petite histoire, et après les idées réalité
Never at all a moderate woman by way of passion; Simone Weil began her political activism at merely the age of six. She was born in 1909 in Paris, France to Alsatian-Jewish parents. This was during the Franco-Prussian conflicts, so they had fled from Alsace-Lorraine and made home in Île-de-France. Her pilot experience as une petite activist was marching for Solidarity on the Western Front prior to World War 1. Again,  this occurred under the age of ten. These partisan movements would begin to shape her metaphysical world in a profound way.
By her mid teens she was a self proclaimed Marxist and imaginably she was considered a rambunctious and possibly “dangerous” youth, especially being a woman prior to gaining the suffragette vote. She was under the age of twenty, politically informed and wildly opinionated in the areas of socialism, capitalism, anarchy, as well as trade unions. She fought for freedom.
 Her dear friend Gustave Thibon and inheritor of her writings said of her (fondly): “On the concrete plane, we disagreed on everything”.  
I want to stop in thought and elaborate further on this quote. I can’t envision Simone being disobliging or rude just to make a statement. People have their opinions, and they stick to (usually) quite aggressively. 
Supplementary to this statement:
From Plato’s Cratylus 
(dialogue between Hermogenes):
I don’t know how to oppose you, Socrates. It isn’t easy for me to suddenly change my opinion, though.  (391, a).
However the Socratic method does often lead you to an entirely different answer then you thought possible, but the trick is that he is not stating the answer, but more so guiding you along the way. You will discover the answer on your own. The oppositions proposition has to be better than your own in order to switch sides. The Socratic way is ‘accurate methods, clear thinking and exact analysis” (Plato, pg 10; Durrant). If we begin to agree that Simone Weil is a disagreeable person we are far from correct. 
He also says of her (with a undertone of tremendous enamor)
With alarming spontaneity she displayed all that was most unpleasing in her nature, but needed much time and affection and a great deal of reserve had to be overcome, before she showed what was best in her.

And more persuasively:
She actually experienced  in its heartbreaking reality the distance between ‘the knowing’ and knowing with all one’s soul.. One object in her life was to abolish that distance.

The entanglement of the qualities she held; vibrancy in soul and spirit, initially stagnant but ever so endearing nature (with time), beloved and passionate friend, and in the forms of literary contribution; she was an advanced thinker on a range of ideas that could perplex many a man, and also make him laugh. She was a goddess in a time where there was no grounds for such a powerful, moving, fluid vocalization through the voice of a woman.  In her “late” life she was influenced by a multitude of religions, thus experiencing the heir of spiritual enlightenment, in a sense. She touched on elements of Buddhism, Christianity and many a Mystic divinity. Here are some of her idées.
I must not forget at certain times when my headaches were raging I had an intense longing to make another human being suffer by hitting him in exactly the same part of his forehead. Analogous desires, very frequent in human beings. (Gravity and Grace)
Man only escapes from the laws of this world in lightening flashes. Instants when everything stands still, instants of contemplation, of pure intuition,  of mental void, of acceptance of the moral void.  It is through such instants that he is capable of the supernatural. Whoever endures a moment of the void either receives the supernatural bread or falls. It is a terrible risk, but one that must be run-even during the instant  when hope fails. But we must not throw ourselves into it. (To Accept the Void)
To strip ourselves of the imaginary royalty of the world. Absolute solitude. Then we possess the truth of the world. (Detachment)
To detach our desire from all good things and to wait. Experience proves that this waiting is satisfied. It is then we touch the absolute good. (Detachment)

In no matter what circumstances, if the imagination is stopped from pouring itself out we have a void (the poor in spirit).       (The imagination which fills the void)

WARNING: These idées are not meant to fill your brain, but to feed it. Hunger is not a one time occupant of the stomach and surrounding internal systems; just as knowledge is not a “one time” thing for the soul. It should be a repetitious and everlasting desire.
I encourage you to press on, as will I..


I love history, I really do. But it doesn’t interest me much. The rudiments of where someone came from and their backgrounds, etc,  are intriguing sometimes, but not always necessary. Plus, this isn't Grade Eleven History class. I prefer to read their ideas and philosophical pieces to gain access to their personal psychology rather than read on on the dryness, extracting my theory based on a conglomerate of  sub-notes from Wikipedia or by soaking up some dust-mites by droning over a biographical or historical text.

Alas, enjoy!