Thursday, January 05, 2012

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Yeats is... - Yeats is one of the wonders of the Western world. I believe literature is the most humanity has ever achieved: really, all we pretty much have to show for ourselves are our books, and now that we are slowly but surely distancing ourselves from literature, are we not regressing? This thought came to my mind once again as I was delighting myself in R.F. Forsters great, great biography of Yeats.

It is very hard to characterize Yeats - of course, one can say, and I have, that he was completely dotty, disconnected, and he was, but that's actually almost totally misleading: he was very, very shrewd even in his dottiness (and compare that with Pound's quite pathological version). He was no politician, no idealogue, and that he knew - in some ways he really knew himself. And the poetry: light of evening, Lissadell... It's quite something, quite something else, and equally hard to characterize. I often find myself ambivalent: it's no ancient dusty tomb, it engages, enrages, delights, one of the wonders of the Western world.

And that is really what we have to show for ourselves, as much civilization as we have ever had: art, literature. Increasingly unimportant things.

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