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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Notes from a Composition Book, 1967

The world is in my head. My body is in the world.

The world has no objective existence. It exists insofar as we are able to perceive it. And our perceptions are necessarily limited. Which means that the world has a limit, that it stops somewhere. But where it stops for me is not necessarily where it stops for you.

No theory of art (if it is possible) can be divorced from a theory of human perception.

But not only are our perceptions limited, language (our means of expressing those perceptions) is also limited.

Language is not experience. It is a means of organizing experience.

What, then, is the experience of language? It gives us the world and takes it away from us. In the same breath.

The fall of man is not a question of sin, transgression, or moral turpitude. It is a question of language conquering experience: the fall of the world into the word, experience descending from the eye to the mouth. A distance of about three inches.


Faith in the word is what I call Classical. Doubt in the word is what I call Romantic. The Classicist believes in the future. The Romantic knows that he will be disappointed, that his desires will never be fulfilled. For he believes that the world is ineffable, beyond the grasp of words.

To feel estranged from language is to lose your own body. When words fail you, you dissolve into an image of nothingness. You disappear.


--Paul Auster

2 comments:

  1. Oh yes! "where it stops for me is not necessarily where it stops for you."

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  2. :)

    Ma--think how YOUNG he would've been at the time. What a human.

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