Saturday, April 04, 2009


was wandering around in a local vintage stuff store today, looking thru the books in one of the stalls, and came across a book of letters from Thomas Wolfe to his mother in 1920. since we've been spending time in Asheville, I thought I'd pick it up and thumb thru it (I've not read Look Homeward, Angel but it's on my list of books I'm probably never gonna get to), and opened it up to this dandy passage:

...but let me paint you a picture of the probable future. 'You can write and teach too,' you will say. Yes, yes, how fine, how hopeful that all is. In ten, fifteenyears, I will be a sour, dyspeptic, small town pedant, the powers of my youth forgotten or repressed, bitter, morose, blaming Everybody but myself for what might have been. The awful thing about most people is their caution - the crawling, abject bird-in-a-hand theory.

The security of the present job - with its safe wage - is ever so much better than the uncertain promise of future glory. What matter if you kill your soul! - your fire - your talent - you can play the game safe and manage to live. Live!

...On the train coming up I developed a heavy cold, which hung on most persistently...I became night I started coughing here in my room, and I put a handkerchief to my mouth. When I drew it away there was a tiny spot of blood on it. I was half sick with horror and tried not to think about it. [...]The cold got better, the cough subsided, it has gone now - and the soreness has disappeared from my lung. But that is not the important thing; when this thing happened - which, I think, meant little - I thought the worst, and saw the slow certain advance of the old Skeleton with the Scythe - I saw the sure destruction, the erasure, the blotting out of my dreams and my poetry - and myself - and I couldn't face it. And then, almost in miraculous fashion, I steadied, my mind cleared and the old fear left me. I kept thinking of the words of Socrates just before they put him to death: 'For I hoped that I should be guilty of nothing common or mean in the hour of danger' - and these words gave me courage, and a measure of hope. And now I feel I can go on with a firmer step, and a more resolute heart. There is a new fatalism in my beliefs and I feel ready for whatever may come, but, whatever it may be, I mean to express myself to the last ounce, meanwhile.

So if there is a sore or corrupt place in me I feel that the rest of me - which is strong and healthy - should be able to put it down. And if that is true of my life, then why not there as well? If there is a sore or corrupt place in my life, why should not the rest of me - that part of me which has fed on poetry, and the eternal tragedy and beauty - wipe out old stains and ragged scars?

I'm looking forward to delving further, as I understand his picture in fiction of his small town of Asheville made it all but impossible for him to return...

I'm hoping to one day accomplish that same feat here in College Park, GA and paint such an accurate picture of life that it actually offends the other residents with its truth. and maybe effects (affects?) some kind of change...though I'm not holding my breath; some folks will always tell you the sky is green no matter the evidence to the contrary. that green sky is a necessary thing for their religion, their belief system, their existence to continue functioning, and to admit its blueness is to admit failure as a human being. but that won't stop me from writing about the savages and their baleful wailing before the sad and terrible blue sky that won't be green for them, no matter how hard they will doesn't matter if it's a dog on a chain they refuse to acknowledge as another living thing just like them or a jesus that'll fix everything or a political ideology that is self-defeating even as its echo chamber promises bountiful success while the bus is plummeting over the cliff face into the abyss.

anyway, it's important to not be them, no matter the cost. it's important to attempt. creation is revolutionary in a world of donkeys content with the hand they've been dealt and lacking the imagination to bluff their way out of a big loss.

or whatever.

things are probably fine the way they are.


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