A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

I'm a Midwestern pilgrim who reads and writes in the West. I'm a conversationalist and a walker. You can reach me here: jreed1490@gmail.com

We always misstep when we consider our writing of a story as a separate action from the story itself.

—Peter Rock, “The Telling That Shows” (via mttbll)

To work deliberately in the form of the fragment can be seen as stopping or appearing to stop a work closer, in the process, to what Blanchot would call the origin of writing, the centre rather than the sphere. It may be seen as a formal integration, an integration into the form itself, of a question about the process of writing. It can be seen as a response to the philosophical problem of seeing the written thing replace the subject of the writing. If we catch only a little of our subject, or only badly, clumsily, incoherently, perhaps we have not destroyed it. We have written about it, written it and allowed it to live on at the same time, allowed it to live on in our ellipses, our silences.

—Lydia Davis, “Form as Response to Doubt” (via mttbll)

Understanding is not a piercing of the mystery, but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through and by it. I would like my words to flow along in the same way that the world flows along, a serpentine movement through incalculable dimensions, axes, latitudes, climates, conditions. I accept a priori my inability to realize such an ideal. It does not bother me in the least. In the ultimate sense, the world itself is pregnant with failure, is the perfect manifestation of imperfection, of the consciousness of failure. In the realization of this, failure is itself eliminated… the creator, i.e., the artist, expresses himself by and through imperfection. It is the stuff of life, the very sign of livingness.

—Henry Miller (via mttbll)

(Source: indiebound.org, via mttbll)

I happen to believe that the deepest value of fiction is that, in its very fictiveness, it is the one arena where we can, at least temporarily, take apart and refuse to compete within the terms that the rest of existence insists on. Market value may come to drive out all other human values, except, perhaps, in the country of invented currency, the completely barter-driven economy of the imagination. Fiction, when it remembers its innate priority over other human transactions, can deal not in price but in worth. And that seems to me an act filled with political potential, as well as with pleasure.

—Richard Powers (via mttbll)

(Source: dalkeyarchive.com, via mttbll)

I will tell you something in that area, if you like a theory, which I may have come up with after I wrote the book—I’m not sure. It is the notion that the reader is brought in almost as a collaborator in creating the picture that emerges of the characters, of the situation, of what they look like—everything. So this authorial absence, which everyone from Flaubert to Barthes talks about, is the sense that the book is a collaboration between the reader and what is on the pages.

My sense of a poem—my notion of how you revise—is: you get yourself into a state where what you are intensely conscious of is not why you wrote it or how you wrote it, but what you wrote. You just read it as a piece, as someone else might read it, and you see where it’s alive. If that voice that you created that is most alive in the poem isn’t carried throughout the whole poem, then I destroy where it’s not there, and I reconstruct it so that that voice is the dominant voice in the poem.

—Philip Levine (via mttbll)

(Source: cortlandreview.com, via mttbll)


“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” 

—Wendell Berryfrom Given: Poems (Counterpoint, 2005)

Thank you, apoetreflects.

Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.

—Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Vol. 2. (via ninetythieves)

(via lucybiederman)