Thursday, July 19

"A short primer, 'When to Lie and How,' if brought out in an attractive and not too expensive a form, would, no doubt, command a large sale, and would prove of real practical service to many earnest and deep-thinking people. Lying for the sake of the improvement of the young, which is the basis of home education, still lingers amongst us, and its advantages are so admirably set forth in the early books of Plato's Republic that it is unnecessary to dwell upon them here. It is a mode of lying for which all good mothers have peculiar capabilities, but it is capable of still further development, and has been sadly overlooked by the School Board. Lying for the sake of a monthly salary is, of course, well known in Fleet Street, and the profession of a political leader-writer is not without its advantages. But it is said to be a somewhat dull occupation, and it certainly does not lead to much beyond a kind of ostentatious obscurity. The only form of lying that is absolutely beyond reproach is lying for its own sake, and the highest development of this is, as we have already pointed out, lying in Art. Just as those who do not love Plato more than truth cannot pass beyond the threshold of Academe, so those who do not love beauty more than truth never know the inmost shrine of art. The solid, stolid British intellect lies in the desert sands like the Sphinx in Flaubert’s marvelous tale, and fantasy, La Chimère, dances round it, and calls to it with her false, flute-toned voice. It may not hear her now, but surely some day, when we are all bored to death with the commonplace character of modern fiction, it will hearken to her and try to borrow her wings.

And when that day dawns, or sunset reddens, how joyous we shall all be! Facts will be regarded as discreditable, truth will be found mourning over her fetters, and romance, with her temper of wonder, will return to the land. The very aspect of the world will change to our startled eyes. Out of the sea will rise Behemoth and Leviathan, and sail round the high-pooped galleys, as they do on the delightful maps of those ages when books on geography were actually readable. Dragons will wander about the waste places, and the phoenix will soar from her nest of fire into the air. We shall lay our hands upon the basilisk, and see the jewel in the toad’s head. Champing his gilded oats, the Hippogriff will stand in our stalls, and over our heads will float the bluebird singing of beautiful and impossible things, of things that are lovely and that never happen, of things that are not and that should be. But before this comes to pass we must cultivate the lost art of lying."
 - Oscar Wilde
The Decay of Lying
The Writings of Oscar Wilde, Volume 10

Wednesday, July 18

You know what it feels like to hold
a burning piece of paper, maybe even
trying to read it as the flames get close
to your fingers until all you're holding
is a curl of ash by its white ear tip
yet the words still hover in the air?
That's how I feel now.
 - Dean Young
from Belief in Magic

Monday, July 16

Morning arrives
Morning arrives
by limousine: the tall
emaciated chairman

of sleeplessness in person
steps out on the sidewalk
and donning black glasses, ascends
the stairs to your building

guided by a German shepherd.
After a couple faint knocks
at the door, he slowly opens
the book of blank pages

pointing out
with a pale manicured finger
particular clauses,
proof of your guilt.
 - Franz Wright

Sunday, July 15

What I Have Learned So Far
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don't think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of - indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.
 - Mary Oliver

Saturday, July 14

"On the surface and maybe underneath, this may be regarded by some as an idiot's life. In the very long struggle to find out your own true character there is the real possibility you'll discover a simpleton beneath the skin, or at least something deeply peculiar.  But then you slowly arrive at a point where you accept your comfortable idiosyncrasies, aided in part by the study of your sporting friends, who are capable of no less strange behavior. A few years back I tried to explain to a long table of studio executives the pleasures of walking around wild country in the moonlight. They nodded evasively, but I could tell they thought I was daft. The same tale told to two or three of my favorite hunting or fishing companions would be received as utterly ordinary, say on the level of drinking too much good wine. It's simply the kind of thing you do when your curiosity arouses you."
 - Jim Harrison
the hammock papers

Friday, July 13

we lack the penetration
     to see the present and the onrushing future
          contending for the soft feathers of a flying bird,
or a beetle's armor,
or shaking painfully
the frail confines of the human heart
man is himself a flame -
     he has burned through the animal world
and appropriated its vast stores of protein for his own

it has been said repeatedly that one can never,
try as he will, get around
     to the front of the universe:  man is destined
to see only its far side,
to realize nature
only in retreat

and if it should turn out
     that we have mishandled our own lives
as several civilizations before us have done,

it seems a pity that we should involve the violet
     and the tree frog in our departure
 - Loren Eiseley
The Philosophy of Loren Eiseley, in Verse
Dave Pollard
how to save the world

  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov