Monday, October 27, 2008

I should blog more often

I seem to be on the once-a-month schedule, which for "bloggers" should be more like once a day. Glad I'm not one of those!

After reading Stevenson, I couldn't really settle on anything. I tried a novel that I had heard about recently, concerning Darwin, called Mr. Darwin's Shooter. It actually seemed promising, but there was something about it that I just wasn't in the mood for in between the time that I requested it and when I actually picked it up at the library, so back it went.

I decided to go with one of Crowley's early novellas called The Deep, which was published back in 1975. It was really interesting to see the development of his style and themes from early work to the most recent. It was a very dense, challenging story to follow -- I think it's the disorientation of not quite knowing what world you're in. There are very familiar elements of historical fiction, except the medieval, magic-steeped world it depicts is so decidedly not this one. And there is the refusal not to give in to readers' expectations. Nothing exists outside of the imagined landscape of the story, which, as you give in to it, is very powerful.

Then, I seized on John Donne the other night, the way some people reach for the Bible when things are just feeling too overwhelming. I read at random, "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day, being the shortest day." Some people claim their iPods sense their moods and play just the right music at times -- I've even had that silly feeling myself (I'm the one that chose all that music in the first place, duh) -- but here was the perfect poem for my state. So beautiful, mournful, but oddly peaceful:

'TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk ;

I've always loved Donne on a purely visceral level, but I've never really learned that much about him, or spent enough time understanding the poetry, which is cunningly crafted, witty and incredibly learned, much the way I feel about Wallace Stevens. So, now I'm reading the recent biography of Donne by John Stubbs -- one of those young, smarty-pants scholars that so astound me. (What was I doing at age 29? Geez...) I was going to start with T.S. Eliot's essays on Donne, but I'll have to dig them up elsewhere, since they seem to have gone missing at the library. Some poor student, no doubt, who never even finished the paper, lost the book, got kicked out of school, and went on to some misbegotten life in politics.

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