When Must We Write?

In danger of life, our own or others, in self defense, if it the only way of saving our identity in a crisis. We must speak and write and think and teach and testify when we and our mind would disintegrate without it. We speak lest we go mad.

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Fruit of Lips, p. 30

Speaking for myself, I can say that this is fairly accurate.

A Man Can’t Throw His Heart Away

We can’t throw our hearts away. We can’t get a new heart, or at least we cannot get a new heart on our own. If I were to make a decision to throw my old heart away, that decision would have to be made by my old heart. And if my old heart could do something as wonderful as throwing my old heart away, what is the need for a new heart?

Douglas Wilson, Ploductivity

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…

A Man Claimed Credit for It

Jack London claimed to write twenty hours a day. Before he undertook to write, he obtained the University of California course list and all the syllabi; he spent a year reading the textbooks in philosophy and literature. In subsequent years, once he had a book of his own under way, he set his alarm to wake him after four hours’ sleep. Often he slept through the alarm, so, by his own account, he rigged it to drop a weight on his head. I cannot say I believe this, though a novel like The Sea-Wolf is strong evidence that some sort of weight fell on his head with some sort of frequency — but you wouldn’t think a man would claim credit for it. London maintained that every writer needed a technique, experience, and a philosophical position.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (via)

A Man Made Sunshine of a Shady Place

The late Thomas Roche, Jr. was a professor of English at Princeton. I know of him through his book The Kindly Flame, a commentary on Book III of The Faerie Queene. When he died a few months ago, several Princeton scholars assembled their memories of him, and I particularly love this one from Sarah Anderson:

On the day and at the hour, Tom entered the classroom and claimed the students’ attention: he bowed slightly, and he did not so much shrug his cloak from his shoulders, as twirl it slightly, so it reposed perfectly upon a chair. As he read, Spenser’s Merlin gleamed before us. The ligature between all that Tom knew — of Spenser, epic, Neoplatonism, a medieval and a newer world — was simply in Tom’s voice.

A Man is Thinking it Over

Human beings have overwhelmingly powerful cravings for novelty and unanimity. We want new problems to face, because we’re tired of the old ones: they bore us, and remind us of our failures to solve them. And, especially in times of stress, we crave environments in which dissent is silenced and even mere difference is erased. We call that “solidarity,” but it‘s more like an instinctual bullying. You must attend to the thing I am attending to. I despise both of those tendencies. They’ve turned everyone into attention muggers.

Alan Jacobs