Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#73 / Wise Words (On Writing And On Life)

Elena Ferrante has written some wonderful novels. Click this link for a list. Since I don't read Italian, I have only read those of her novels for which an English translation is available, but I have read all of those. That includes her "children's book," The Beach At Night.

Frantumaglia, which is subtitled "A Writer's Journey," is not a novel. The word in the title means "entanglement," and I haven't yet read it. I do have the book, though. It's sitting on my side table. I'll read it soon!

In the meantime, I ran across a New Yorker conversation between Ferrante and Nicola Lagioia, published in The New Yorker on May 19, 2016. Lagioia is an Italian writer, and the conversation that is documented in The New Yorker includes what I consider to be some rather wise words on writing: 

I ... spend a large part of my day reading and writing, because I have assigned myself the task of describing. And I cannot soothe myself by saying: it’s a job. When did I ever consider writing a job? I’ve never written to earn a living. I write to bear witness to the fact that I have lived ...

This explanation resonates with me. In this blog, if in no other context, I write every day. I do so, I realize, and as Ferrante says, to bear witness to the fact that I have lived; that I am, in fact, still living!

Not everyone will write, of course, but don't we all need to provide some periodic evidence to the world that we are living, and that we have have lived? 

To put it another way, taking up a metaphor so ably and so frequently wielded by that great writer in English, William Shakespeare, we are all "actors" on this stage of life, not mere observers. We are creators, not just "consumers." 

In politics, and art, in music, in writing, in craftsmanship, and in our friendships, too...

One way or the other, we must act, and by acting bear witness to the fact that we have seized, and made ours, and have made use of this gift of life.

To act, to create, however we do it, is to fulfill the claim and calling which, though differently distinguished, life makes on each one of us. 

The claim life makes on us is simple: To act. To create. To live! 

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  1. If the Democratic Party can't find (refind?) it's soul, why would I support it? With too many wealthy, compromised New Democrats in leadership, I'm not optimistic, either. In fact, my heart sank as soon as Obama named Rahm Emanuel Chief of Staff, and it hasn't refloated since.

  2. Celine, I don't know if you follow my blog postings regularly, but I definitely share your concern! Here's one of my recent statements, pretty much in total agreement: http://www.gapatton.net/2017/03/72-life-of-party.html


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