A new online database allows users to track down the location of every known letter, postcard, and correspondence by Samuel Beckett listed in a public archive. You can tbeckett.library.emory.edu.
The New York Times has published a lovely and charming interview with Patti Smith, where she talks about some of her favourite books (and where I discovered she has a signed first edition of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake).
Source: The New York Times
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
— Ansel Adams
“No definition of poetry is adequate unless it be poetry itself. The most accurate analysis by the rarest wisdom is yet insufficient, and the poet will instantly prove it false by setting aside its requisitions. It is indeed all that we do not know. The poet does not need to see how meadows are something else than earth, grass, and water, but how they are thus much. He does not need discover that potato blows are as beautiful as violets, as the farmer thinks, but only how good potato blows are. The poem is drawn out from under the feet of the poet, his whole weight has rested on this ground. It has a logic more severe than the logician’s. You might as well think to go in pursuit of the rainbow, and embrace it on the next hill, as to embrace the whole of poetry even in thought.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 26 January 1840
The editors of The New York Times Book Review choose the best fiction and nonfiction titles this year.
“Detractors of new poetry make judgments about craft based on conservative assumptions about poetic traditions, forms, style. But radical aesthetics have their own craft and traditions, formed from intersecting political and linguistic concerns. So this isn’t a question of craft at all. Tremain and others might more accurately say that poetry is rapidly changing. And although it has always changed, recent new voices have radically altered the landscape of poetry – for some, beyond comfortable recognition. What no one dares to say aloud is who these new poets are and why they are such a threat to the supposed status quo.”
“Jacques Derrida is widely regarded as the most important French philosopher of the late twentieth century. Yet when his name was put forward for an honorary degree at Cambridge University in 1992, a significant portion of the Anglo-American philosophical establishment was outraged. Eighteen philosophers from nine countries signed a letter to The Times opposing the award on the grounds that Derrida’s work consisted of “tricks and gimmicks similar to those of the Dadaists or of the concrete poets” and amounted to ‘little more than semi-intelligible attacks upon the values of reason, truth, and scholarship’. Understanding Derrida’s legacy, then, must also involve understanding why he should have been the target of such vitriol.”
I really do think with my pen, for my head often knows nothing of what my hand is writing. MS 112 114:27.10.1931
Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened & will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For ‘recognition of sin’ is an actual occurrence & so is despair & so is redemption through faith. Those who speak of it (like Bunyan), are simply describing what has happened to them; whatever gloss someone may want to put on it! MS 118 56r c: 4.9.1937
If I am thinking just for myself without wanting to write a book, I jump all around the topic; that is the only way of thinking that is natural to me. Forcing my thoughts into an ordered sequence is a torment for me. Should I even attempt it now??
I squander untold effort making an arrangement of my thoughts that may have no value whatsoever. MS 118 94v c: 15.9.1937
One cannot speak the truth; – if one has not yet conquered oneself. One cannot speak it – but not, because one is still not clever enough.
The truth can be spoken only by someone who is already at home in it; not by someone who still lives in untruthfulness, & does not more than reach out towards it from within untruthfulness. MS 162b 37r c: 1939-1940
Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when hiking through snow. You doze off & die in your sleep. MS 162b 42v c: 1939-1940
Thoughts at peace. That is the goal someone who philosophizes longs for. MS 127 41v: 4.3.1944
Words are deeds. MS 179 27: ca. 1945
If people did not sometimes commit stupidities, nothing intelligent at all would ever happen. MS 131 219: 8.9.1946