A postscript on Utopia

Coincidentally - a word that tricks chance into being fate - I was reading this week Maria Popova's account of Wisława Szymborska's celebration of not knowing. Szymborska said, in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, that it is from the humility of not knowing that inspiration comes - in any profession, not merely writing: "Inspiration... Continue Reading →

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Renovating the Burning Archive

I have spent the morning renovating the Burning Archive. A new theme changes the look and will feature more posts on the landing page so that you can sample more of my writing. I have also added several pages that gather together the main categories of my writing. My poetry collections features links to the... Continue Reading →

Cantos from a cage

What thou lovest well remains,                                                   the rest is dross What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage Whose world, or mine or theirs                                             or is it of none? First came the seen, then thus the palpable... Continue Reading →

A task: from Milosz to me

A short post. The miracle of literature: how words crafted for another voice, at another time, pierce the carapace of habit, strike at deep wounds, and reveal a way of being. From my reading last night: The Task (Czeslaw Milosz) In fear and trembling, I think I would fulfill my life Only if I brought... Continue Reading →

On revenge

"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event - in the living act, the undoubted deed - there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside... Continue Reading →

Conrad’s darkness

"I have never been able to find in any man’s book or any man’s talk anything … to stand up for a moment against my deep-seated sense of fatality governing this man-inhabited world." Joseph Conrad, 1922, in correspondence with Bertrand Russell. A new biography of Joseph Conrad has come out. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in... Continue Reading →

Adam Phillips, In Writing

‪Adam Phillips: "Writing needn’t be a world domination project… but just the attempt to find enough people who are interested in what matters to you‬" This quotation comes from Adam Phillips' latest collection, In Writing. I sourced it from the review in The Guardian. How timely I should stumble on this remark - I have... Continue Reading →

Waste books and epigrams

"The excuses we make to ourselves when we want to do something are excellent material for soliloquies, for they are rarely made except when we are alone, and are very often made aloud." George Lichtenberg (1742-99), The Waste Books, #22, p 8 I collected from the local library The Notebooks of Robert Frost, which features... Continue Reading →

Hannah Arendt and remembering thought

After listening to an episode of the On Being podcast, titled Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times, I took up the invitation to remember the impact on my own thought of Hannah Arendt. The podcast featured a literary critic who used the mantle of Arendt's thought to criticise approaches to refugees, global capitalism and the... Continue Reading →

The hope of none

In reading Austerlitz last night, I stumbled on the passage in which the relayed memories of Austerlitz tell of his ambling into the strangely desolate town in which lie the ruins from which he has averted his attention for four decades. Here he finds the reason for his long avoidance of his personal and national... Continue Reading →

Sponges, metamorphoses and psyche

After a morning during which I searched my ravaged memory for the concealed door to my troubles, I opened an old box which contained five old, forgotten notebooks of mine. Their black covers and red spines revealed nothing to me of when I last used them to gather observations, thoughts, fragments of lines, like a... Continue Reading →

Sebald’s sentences

I have spent the afternoon, as if in retreat from a world that does not welcome me, lying in bed and reading, much as I did as a teenage boy when I fled a family that tormented me into the world that I conjured from the novels of Trollope, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, a world which... Continue Reading →

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