Sunday, February 07, 2010


Every so often a quiet Sunday. This one is replete with sunshine and everything outside is dressed in sparkling frost. It's not warm: -21 but not too cold either. In short, February.

I thought some of you might be interested in what I am reading. From time to time I go to Value Village and check out their books. It's a way of buying books on a somewhat limited budget; most are about $3.99 and every fifth book is free. It is in this manner that I have found several terrific literary reads. To wit: today I am reading Kingston, ON author Steven Heighton's 1997 Anansi-published work, a series of essays entitled The Admen Move on Lhasa: Writing and Culture in a Virtual World.

So here are a few gems for your ruminating pleasure:

"Art is an invitation change what can be changed - one's self, first and finally - and to cherish what is receding, vanishing, as all things are." p. 19

"Poetry and fiction - especially when the writing is sensuous and visceral instead of cerebral, abstract - are deeply rehumanizing and for that reason they're subversive, whether overtly political or not. Art, and literature above all, is uniquely equipped to convey that indispensable facility, that rare and socially redemptive force, the habit of empathy - of trying to see through the eyes of others and to feel with another's body and heart. I think of literature as putting us face to face - and, at times, hand to hand, in struggle or in love - with strangers. So we're forced to look them in the eyes and see them not as others but as variations on a vast, familiar theme. Ourselves." p. 32

"And surely the first step for any writer who dreams of reaching the cells and cadres of the fed-up and the disaffected is to shun capitulation to the Disneyesque spirit of the age, to Casper, the friendly Zeitgeist; to refuse to fiddle around in cyberspace while the ghettoes burn; to remain a believer, unafraid of the unfashionably serious engagement with human joy and sorrow that still yields meaning and still seeds in readers the socially vital habit of empathy; to resist not only the virtual realities and cyberabstractions of post-modernity but also the atavistic impulse to heroic vitalism, that fascist denial of the modern world that seduced and so often stultified Eliot, Pound, D. H. Lawrence, and others..." p. 48

"...literature is uniquely armed to introduce each new generation of readers to the habit of empathy - of learning to see things through another's eyes and to feel with another's body and heart. Film has an instantaneous power that books can't match, and at its best it makes us see in startling new ways, but only literature can offer the kind of nuanced, qualified, many-dimensioned psychological insights that let us feel things, however briefly, with a stranger's heart. / Fresh poetic images that in some small way change forever the focus and range of the eye; how the inviting openness or alarming finality of a novel's conclusion reawakens readers to the course of their own lives, the possibilities of a life. How the rhythm and music of a poem reawaken sedentary readers to the half-forgotten metres of their own pulses, while certain lines of poetry elicit a primitive, physical response - cause shivering, tears, cause hairs to hackle on the forearm. Re-embody us. Reconnect us to real life." p. 59

There's more...but this gives us a start on contemplation.

Thanks, Steven Heighton.


At 7:08 PM, Blogger Juny said...

As much as thought can liberate us from provincial thinking, it also detaches us from the geologic inertia of human drama. We must engage in the passions of individual expereince with the global and cosmic in mind to push the envelopes of sensibilities so that an empirical realzation of the abstract speculation can occur.

It's in our individual context that we shake the web of connections in an exertion as strenuous and demanding as pushing the proverbial boulder up the hill to see it role back down to the bottom again.


Post a Comment

<< Home