This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.
The The Paris Review Book for Planes, Trains, Elevators, and Waiting Rooms is a compilation from the journal that asserts “reading is the last refuge from the real-time epidemic. To that end, the selections gathered here are grouped by how long they offer escape from real time: waiting rooms need long stories, for example, while elevators demand poems.”
Brilliant user experience-oriented organization.
I’m rather tired of every amateur scientist weighing in with his or her opinion of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s destruction or the entire space program, so I’m reluctant to do the same here. But tonight I walked onto the subway, sat down, and in front of my eyes was this passage from Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot that moved me enough that I must remember it…
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always -
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are infolded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
An attack on postmodern literature by Jonathan Franzen, which equates difficulty with high art. I see an analogy to design.
The original article is offline in the New Yorker, an interview is online.
‘…I think it’s kind of a natural idea. As a student, you’re handed Milton or Shakespeare, you’re told that it’s great literature, and you find it difficult to read – at least, at first. Or you’re in gym class, trying to pole vault, and the bar keeps getting raised, and you learn that the more difficult the jump the better it is. If you think of a novel as a contract between the reader and the writer, an agreement to entertain and be entertained, difficulty doesn’t make much sense…’