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Monday, December 31, 2007

Finishing the "Letters" on the last day of the year

I think it was not only absorbing to read James Wright's letters, but there was so much to learn about writing... and about life in general. The last few pages were passing by, one after the other, and there I was worried over the fact that the magical and wonderful journey this book became in my life the last few weeks was about to be no more, just like 2007 in a few more hours. Thinking is beyond the mere fact of existing for me. I think all of the time, literally about everything. I admit a certain inclination to become obsessed with thoughts, morbid ones and regular ones as well. This year one of the most prevalent thoughts (read: obsession) for me was the question of existence in general. And this is what brings me to James Wright's letters again... He wrote:

"Spinoza says that the human being is a miraculous creature, and his miracle consists in his capacity for love. He can love anything, from an atom all the way to God. But it is just there, says Spinoza, that the tragic difficulty arises. For man must realize that his capacity for love gives him no right to demand that anyone love him in return. Not anyone. Not even God. I have found that a hard thing to face, but there is something in it that goes beyond pain."

The depth of this sentiment is really, as he states, beyond pain, beyond words themselves. Now, we can disrobe all the poetics out of love and concentrate on its bare fundamentals, and perhaps we do indeed find that we give love as an act of altruism or unselfishness. What of it, then? It remains the same existential question: "Must life have a meaning in order for it to be lived?" The end is the end, Wright reflects, for in a few letters further down the pages he writes to Robert Bly about his throat cancer which would eventually end his life. There are only a few letters dealing with Wright's illness, very brief in all... and I am sure that the editors (which included his wife at the time, Anne Wright) didn't want to post much about this but just the bare minimum. It is all too private to leave in the open. After all, it is in fact "The Selected Letters..." I am not quite sure where this entry is going. My thoughts have been in a jumble the last few days anyways. I have been pondering upon which direction to head in the new year for several months now, and I think I am now close to the answer. Certainly, the aforementioned passage was a determining factor. As my Jewish friends say: "Next year in Jerusalem..."

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At 7:20 PM, Blogger Hal said...

After reading you great comments on James Wright I felt I had to read his letters. To my surprise I went to abebooks who had a large selection starting at $3. A large number of these inexpensive copies were listed as publisher remainders.

My copy is on it's way and I wanted to Thank You for the find.


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