Thinking about listening today. Have you read the essay "The Art of Listening" by Brenda Ueland? It is an art, listening. "Listening is love," she says. The backyard today - wild with birdsong. Then a lawn mower started. There was noise from the highway we live too close to. Noise from the construction of the overpass, also nearby. Fountain trickling. It's possible to concentrate on the water when one is in the correct frame of mind, and ignore the traffic. It is. It's taken me 11 years to come to that particular silence though.
Well, listening. Have you seen the defunct listenbird blog? I guess graffiti has been outlawed in this town so well, there's no longer listenbird graffiti.
I took some time to breathe in my favorite book this very morning. To absorb the sadness of flowers. Oh, I have more to say about the sadness of flowers. But that will have to wait.
Will you take a look at the page I made on ImageKind? If you like some of the photos I've been taking lately, you can have them turned into greeting cards and the like.......Here's the link, and also one on the side bar: ImageKind.
What am I in this instant? I'm a typewriter making the dry keys echo in the dark, humid dawn. I haven't been human for a long time.
(Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life)
And this week? Has been a week of abundance, blooms. Offerings. Good showers of rain followed by the mystery of light on clean, new leaves. The littlest birds singing the prettiest songs. The world green (and yes, disarming). But I did not write enough, or type enough in the dark humid dawn, or read enough and so maybe that is why there were also moments of profound loneliness. If loneliness is the right word.
I won't forget that there have been small lovely moments lately, such as learning that the sublime Ariel Gordon has included Calm Things in her list of night table recommendations. I heartily recommend her first book of poetry, Hump. I've had the pleasure of hearing her read poems from it on two occasions, and can tell you that it is in turns tender (in an anti-sentimental fashion), witty, surprising and bold.
Re-reading Blue Studios by Rachel Blau Duplessis. Arrested, once again, by this: "I try to write so that if a single shard were rescued in the aftermath of some historical disaster, that one shard would be so touching and lucid as to give the future an idea of who we were......It is, of course, an impossible standard but not the less compelling for that reason."
In the first legend of the Grail, it is said that the Grail (the miraculous vessel that satisfies all hunger by virtue of the consecrated Host) belongs to the first comer who asks the guardian of the vessel, a king three-quarters paralyzed by the most painful wound, "What are you going through?"
This is a question I try to ask, that I've been working through, around, that the characters in the novel I'm writing at the moment, ask or refrain to ask each other. A simple question that is most difficult to ask, to arrive at. I'm re-reading the really brilliant, god-send of a book,Why This World: A Biograpy of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser. To write what she wrote, what did she go through? This is the question that seems to permeate the biography.
Near the end of the book Moser talks about an interview conducted near the end of her life, February 1977. From Moser, "The footage is difficult to watch. With her famously penetrating gaze, Clarice stares straight at the interviewer, her face an almost immobile mask. She sits in a drab leather chair, clutching a big white purse in her left hand and a Hollywood cigarette in her right, burned hand. Smoking incessantly in the middle of a giant gray studio, punctuating the interview with long, pregnant silences, she answers the question in her strange and unmistakable voice."
I wish I could speak Portuguese, but it's magical to hear her voice, that alone. Moser, thankfully, includes quotations from the interviews in his book, in translation. In talking about the reception of The Passion According to G.H. she notes the discrepancies in understanding. She says, "It either touches people, or it doesn't. I mean, I guess the question of understanding isn't about intelligence, it's about feeling, about entering into contact."
It all comes down to this, I think, to the question of understanding. To feeling. And as for one's writing, it either touches people, or it doesn't.