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Poets and Fame and the Lack Thereof

John Berryman, in an interview with The Paris Review from 1970:

Something else is in my head; a remark of Father Hopkins to Bridges. Two completely unknown poets in their thirties—fully mature—Hopkins, one of the great poets of the century, and Bridges, awfully good. Hopkins with no audience and Bridges with thirty readers. He says, “Fame in itself is nothing. The only thing that matters is virtue. Jesus Christ is the only true literary critic. But,” he said, “from any lesser level or standard than that, we must recognize that fame is the true and appointed setting of men of genius.” That seems to me appropriate. This business about geniuses in neglected garrets is for the birds. The idea that a man is somehow no good just because he becomes very popular, like Frost, is nonsense, also. There are exceptions—Chatterton, Hopkins, of course, Rimbaud, you can think of various cases—but on the whole, men of genius were judged by their contemporaries very much as posterity judges them. So if I were talking to a young writer, I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.

Take heart, Kollektiv.

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Canticle: A Lamentation of Lamentations

for Jonathan Potter

Telling it ruins it.- Walker Percy

If time’s axes could be measured by x’s and y’s,
Weightlessness would hit the moon and comes up short
As typical astronauts would goof on graffiti
That beats them to the punch – “Clapton is God,”
The lunar lithograph exclaims. The pretensions
Are less than literary and more than time allows.
This message from the stars came back as reverb,
A name renamed, distortion, a bending of chords….
And
The same for seeing Israel dimly touching goatskin
On a TV talk show – “That’s Esau, or my name’s not Ishack!”
He touches his nose and suddenly all of Egypt knows
The shivering of naked bodies, all twisted by weird news –
Assemble on a hardwood bench before a swimming pool,
Olympic-sized, its water cold with catharsis. A sauna
Awaits an answer, scalding hot with cleansing steam.
The swimming instructor presumes to know their ἕποι
And
Let’s count them off – a madwoman who bent herself
Into a chimney and another into a ventilation shaft:
Both waited to die, discovering what we’ll never find out
Unless we interpret their deaths as more akin to life;
A man who chewed away at the face of another man,
Strong with the urge to prove that human flesh must eat,
Faceless, drug out from shadows, out into light,
Miami’s hot sun, in plain view, faceless, nothing new….
And
A boy who burnt his parish church down to see Christ
The night He was born. His innocent match lights the hay,
The statues, altar, body, blood, soul and divinity.
Still another boy who greeted mother as a corpse
Every day for seven weeks after school, alone, together,
And not knowing death, only sleep and love;
He took direction from her ghost until the matrix
Decided enough was enough; then there was the last,
And
So lost in numbers among forceps and lawful blood,
The airlock of bickering rhetoric, a silent scream,
This one, he or she, counts, observable, if only for Rachel.
Remember Rachel? “Who is Rachel? What is she?”
And

My guitar gently weeps.

31 Short Essays about Praying the Rosary

Whether you pray the Rosary frequently, occasionally, seldom, or never, I cannot recommend this link highly enough.

Whether you find the Rosary powerful, soothing, meritless, or counterproductive, I cannot recommend this link highly enough.

With 31 short pieces — one for each day of October, the Month of the Rosary — you’re almost certain to find something practical — or at least, interesting. Some present venerable traditions; others are inventions or observations by the author. Many of them are suggestions about how to think through the Mysteries in greater depth — imagining what a specific person involved in the mystery would have experienced, say; or comparing two or more mysteries (e.g., Christ’s crowning with thorns and Mary’s crowning as Queen of Heaven and Earth); or seeing how a given mystery exemplifies a given virtue.

Between Heaven (?) and Mirth (?)

Surely there must be a power which always arranges things to happen in the most humiliating circumstances. When I was a boy I had faith in the Christian God. Life under His shadow was a very serious affair; I saw Him incarnated in every tragedy. He belonged to the lacrimae rerum like a gigantic figure looming through a Scottish mist. Now that I approached the end of life it was only my sense of humour that enabled me sometimes to believe in Him.

Graham Greene, The Comedians

Hot Prayer Tip: “Waiting for korrektivpress.com” edition

Memo to Korrektiv commenters: Repeat The Jesus Prayer while waiting for your comment to post. Bonus points for prostration.