January 16, 2018

book and drink

In Bertolt Brecht’s diaries he writes about such things as the essence of art, which he describes as “simplicity, grandeur, and sensitivity,” and its form, coolness.

Looking through the journals that I kept through the heart, so to speak, of my writing life, from 1962 on, I don’t find much of this sort of conclusion. There are more names than ideas, not necessarily well-known names and sometimes names that I don’t recognize Iris Gazelle, who could that be? Jay Julian. There are good descriptions and a lot of conversation – talk – but less than I would expect about writing – what I was writing, what I felt about something I’d written. The journals themselves are written comme ça. They’re meant to be used, not read by anyone. Some pages are written with more care, things I would regret not remembering the smallest detail of.

I had kept diaries or journals since my midtwenties, but like writing itself, I hadn’t known just how to do it. I began by writing down everything – that is, if I wrote anything at all. Eventually I saw that I should not be saving trash…

James Salter
Life into Art
lecture given at the University of Virginia October 2014

perverse tendencies

January 16, 2018

On the sexual level she had perverse tendencies, as is often the case with the English who feel refined…

sociological implication

January 16, 2018

Murder, which is a frustration…of the race, may have, and in fact has, a good deal of sociological implication. But it has been going on too long for it to be news.

Raymond Chandler
The Simple Art of Murder

sad, narrow streets

January 16, 2018

A London street

Sickening errors, democratically arrived at of course, lay either side of the road as I drove west out of London. Blocks of semi-abandoned streets made dead ends of effort where people who had tried to start something – anything – had been crushed by the dull triumphant logic of the state…In further sad, narrow streets…lay ruined three-storey houses that the council neither had the money to restore, nor corruption interest in pulling down. These were all dark – the power, the water cut off in them, life itself cut off there at this wrong end of winter. Yet life still did cling on in them, I knew. Uncivilized, mad life; these rank buildings that had housed self-respecting families once were now occupied by squatters of any kind – the desperate last fugitives of a beaten, abandoned army, their dignity, rights and occupations gone (or never known), their hope gone, tomorrow gone.

Derek Raymond
How the Dead Live