Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

25 May 2007

I Emailed This to a Friend Earlier and Then Thought I'd Post It

Things come to me at different times and I feel certain connections with them based on that. And of course we come to things in an order, right? We come to things in the order in which we come to them (or they to us). So, for instance, I don't know Leaves of Grass at all, but I've been reading books that refer to Whitman vaguely, elliptically, and then over the last three days I read Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days which revolves all around Whitman and his lasting impact. I didn't recognize all of it, but it resounds in my memory, like echoes of something I should know better, or know better than I think I know. I know without knowing, maybe. I read a line today in the book "Unscrew the locks from doors! / Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!" and I recognized it as Ginsberg. At least I thought it was Ginsberg. I looked it up. It's Whitman, but Ginsberg had used it as the epigraph for Howl. So language resounds in different ways at different times... according to the order we come to them. Oh yes, and Michael Cunningam writes like Virginia Woolf. Not just like her, but he follows certain of her tropes. He uses her devices sometimes. I see them as I read him. And late in the book he used the word "roil." Cunningham taught me that word. He must use that word five or six times in Flesh and Blood and I figured out its meaning as I read the book. That word and "inchoate." I might have had to look up "inchoate." But in Specimen Days he doesn't use the word "roil" until very late in the book, and when he did I thought "oh, there it is." And then the author seems familiar. I feel his affection for Woolf, and I think of my own. It's a little like community. It's the best word I can think of for it, anyway. Our contextualizing of material becomes broader, richer, as we get older.

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