Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From Against Happiness

p. 66
"Some of you probably remember the weirdness of long roadtrips. You loaded up in a rumbling old sedan. Once you left the precincts of your town you quickly found yourself on an old highway. The pavement was everywhere cracked and frequently pocked with potholes. As you jostled over the uneven surface, you didn’t think about grading the asphalt with fresh blacktop. Instead, you were mesmerized by those leaning and crazed-looking establishments on the road’s shoulder. You wondered what on earth could be in those buildings with chipping paint and rusty doors. You at least knew that it would be a little dark inside and that you would probably smell old burlap sacks and the faint odor of tar. You could definitely get some strange-shaped rock candy and maybe some cold chocolate milk. Behind the counter was probably a shadowy man smelling of wintergreen. Beyond those probable things, you had no idea what was inside that gas station or that tourist shop of that diner. You might find anything—pig’s feet or painted chicks or the skulls of cows or bullwhips or tough jerky or comics from forgotten wars or posters of Roy Rogers or a dried-up bat. You might recoil from these strange elements, but you would never forget them, not in a lifetime. You would also recall the melancholy atmospheres of those places, redolent of musty decay."

p. 105
"Melancholia is the profane ground out of which springs the sacred. Our hope that this claim is valid is what keeps most of us tenderly disposed toward the sadness of others, no matter how indulgent, and the gloom of our own hearts, regardless of the pain. We have a faith that the dejection will lead to affirmation. If we go on living without this embrace of the darkness, then we are left with the most horrific of situations: suffering is meaningless. If this were true, we likely could not long persist. We need to believe that our shadows generate the light. We must hold to this position. It is consent to the given, a graceful grasp of gravity, a yea to the thunderous no.

Creating doesn’t make us unhappy; unhappiness makes us creative. To create is to live, and in living, we want only to create more, to set our foundations deeper and reach higher toward the sky. If sadness is what makes us creative, then sadness is nothing else but life. Frowning is flourishing. The grouch is the 'ought,' the impetus to vigor. Plumb down into your interiors. There find the sullen ruler of the underworld. On his face is an ambiguous grimace. It is possibly a clenched product of the somber darkness. But it is more likely a squinting before the amber glow growing before his eyes."

--Eric Wilson

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