Unreal Nature

March 10, 2017

How Hard Is That Purification from Insincerity

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:26 am

… “If one hates anything too long … one forgets what it is one could love.”

This is from ‘Reticent Candor’ (1952) found in The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore edited by Patricia C. Willis (1986):

… As Ezra Pound, J.V. Healy says, followed T.E. Hulme’s precept, that language “should endeavor to arrest you, and to make you continuously see a physical thing, and prevent your gliding through an abstract process in formulating the three discourses just cited — exposition consonant in vividness with hs best use of metaphor — “the seabell”s perpetual angelus” and the lines about standing at the “stern of the drumming liner, watching the furrow that widens behind us.”

The next is from a review of Selected Criticusm — Prose, Poetry by Louise Bogan (1956):

… Unmistakable emphasis is placed on two capacities as indispensable to achievement — instinctiveness and “coming to terms with one’s self” — instinctiveness as contrasted with Henry James’ Mona Brigstock who was “all will.” Goethe’s central power is seen as “interpretive imagination,” an interior compulsion linked with integrity. In The Family Reunion, “an integration,” Miss Bogan sees T.S. Eliot “in complete control of himself.”

[line break added] Was Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake, she asks, “the farceur” or have we here, “immaturity transcending suffering?” — a query one connects with Henry James’ observation in discussing Turgenev’s fiction: “The great question as to a poet or novelist is, how does he feel about life? What in the last analysis is his philosophy? This is the most interesting thing their works offer us. Details are interesting in proportion as they contribute to make it clear.”

These compact, unequivocal studies are set off by a kind of dry humor-incognito which is idiosyncratically eloquent. Henry James “really was a great poet and profound psychologist,” Miss Bogan says. “He has been thought genteel when he had become the sharpest critic of gentility, a dull expatriate when his books flashed with incisive American wit.” “He must be approached as one approaches music,” she says. “He continuously shifts between development and theme, never stops, never errs.”

[line break added] She affirms Rilke’s conviction that “we must adhere to difficulty if we would make any claim to having a part in life” and feels that we have in Rilke “one of the strongest antidotes to the powers of darkness”; “often exhausted, often afraid, often in flight but capable of growth and solitude — he stands as an example of integrity held through and beyond change.”

… perhaps with his tendency to diatribe in mind, she says, “Pound’s ideal reader is a person who has experienced real discomfort at being shut up in a railway train, lecture hall, or concert room, with well-modulated voices expressing careful, well-bred opinions on the subject of the arts.” Contradictions presented by W.B. Yeats are set forth: his august statement, “We are artists who are servants not of any cause but of mere nature” and his “lifelong struggle against the inertia of his nation”; “his variety of stress and subtlety of meaning”; his vehemence: “how hard is that purification from insincerity, vanity, malignance, arrogance, which is the discovery of style.”

… typical of the whole temper of the book — Miss Bogan says of Yvor Winters, a writer “very nearly without listeners, let alone friends and admirers, his interest appears limited only because he has made choices, proof of probity and distilled power in unlikely times. These facts should delight us.”

A fascinating book, abounding in important insights such as “Loose form must have beneath, a groundswell of energy.” “If one hates anything too long … one forgets what it is one could love”; the advice of W.B. Yeats that we “write our thoughts as nearly as possible in the language we thought them in.” And we are warned against “stubborn avant-gardism when no real need for a restless forward movement any longer exists; the moment comes,” Miss Bogan says, “for a consolidation of resources, for interpretation rather than exploration.”

My most recent previous post from Moore’s book is here.

-Julie

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