Sunday, November 2, 2008

Letters from Artists

1. (September 20, 2008)
In a white-walled church, Neal Stephenson gently and reluctantly answered questions. Timid scientists, readers who love his books: arrayed nervously before the microphone. Down the center aisle, and along came a young woman with short hair. She asked the author whether she should keep trying to write, even though the world is already too full of unread books. He exhaled, exhausted. "You should do whatever makes you happy." The young woman nodded in nervous thanks, and walked back to her seat. I imagined her to be tucking the words away.

2. (October 11, 2008)
New York City, the Knitting Factory, enthralled and patient. The Elephant Six Holiday Surprise, and all the bands playing are affectionate and true—toward each other, toward the crowd's tilted gazes. We're wondering if Jeff Mangum will find whatever he needs to play songs (any song) from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Or On Avery Island. I mean, everyone's wondering. He doesn't. A lone figure in the crowd yells out titles: "Two-Headed Boy!" "King of the Carrot Flowers!" A halting hush, inexpressible. We're not sure what we've ruined.

3. (August 12, 1904)
And if there is one thing more that I must say to you, it is this. Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life has much difficulty and sadness and remains far behind yours. Were it otherwise he would never have been able to find those words.

Yours:
Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet

4 comments:

Annemarie said...

Dear Diana,

I love & miss you very much & hope you are very well and that things are still and all as they should be. :( but I have to say that (1) is so sad! I hope that I never get to a place in my life where I don't love and honor language and narrative enough to be dead certain that we should all keep trying to write, especially those of us who are thoughtful and earnest enough to worry about whether we should write.

Annemarie said...

oh, and as always, your own writing is so thoughtful and well-spoken! thank you. love love love love love

K. Holden Helena said...

Oh, so glad you are reading this book. A dear friend gave me my copy my freshman year of college and I treasure it. xx - Holden

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