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

Banishment as a Way of Life for a Man

Television is a product, not a medium, and everything you see and hear is produced by people terrified that they might be banished from the castle tomorrow and lose their limos and expense-account lunches and become peasants again, so there is mighty little courage or playfulness, as there is in poetry, which is entirely created by peasants, every word. Banishment is a way of life for poets, so what’s to be afraid of?

Garrison Keillor

HT Daniel S.

A Man Tries to Ride Out the Artistic Temperament

The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs. It is a disease which arises from men not having sufficient power of expression to utter and get rid of the element of art in their being. It is healthful to every sane man to utter the art within him; it is essential to every sane man to get rid of the art within him at all costs. Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily, or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament. Thus, very great artists are able to be ordinary men—men like Shakespeare or Browning. There are many real tragedies of the artistic temperament, tragedies of vanity or violence or fear. But the great tragedy of the artistic temperament is that it cannot produce any art.

~G. K. Chesterton, “The Wit of Whistler” in Heretics

A Man Gives Himself Wholly to His Father

It is not the fact that God created all things, that makes the universe a whole; but that he through whom he created them loves him perfectly, is eternally content in his father, is satisfied to be because his father is with him. It is not the fact that God is all in all, that unites the universe; it is the love of the Son to the Father. For of no onehood comes unity; there can be no oneness where there is only one. For the very beginnings of unity there must be two. Without Christ, therefore, there could be no universe.

~George MacDonald, “The Creation of Christ”