Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sleepy sketches

Certain traits, certain qualities, follow us. Life changes, circumstances change, we change, but many (most?) things stay stable. It's annoying: feeling like we actually have a choice but then following that same old path makes us blame ourselves. But maybe we're not meant to stray because we are who we are, and we're all different, and blah blah blah. You know???

Anyway.  I was going to try to stay up for SNL, but I'm more looking forward to finishing one of my books. Open next to my bedside are "Disgrace," by J.M. Coetzee, "The Reader," by Bernard Schlink, "A Brief History of the Dead," by Kevin Brockmeier," "50 things that Could Change America," and a journal that's getting used less frequently with all these various venues for oversharing - though it remains a good place for tinkering with ideas and for drawing bad, sleepy sketches.

Coetzee's protagonist in "Diary of a Bad Year" writes in one of his "strong opinions" that 
"Dishonour is no respecter of fine distinctions. Dishonour descends upon one's shoulders, and once it has descended no amount of clever pleading will dispel it" (p. 40).

Heavy statement, right? We are all shameful, he says, because we live in a shameful age (i.e., one of torture, unjust wars, etc.) But Anya, his typist, turns his bold proclamations on their head - victims need feel no shame.  It's just this sentence -- "Dishonour descends upon one's shoulders" -- is poetry. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote that prose is the "best words," but poetry is the best words in their best order.  Coetzee's sentence chews me up.  Maybe I should draw a picture of that.

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