Saturday, April 24, 2010
I want to write with love. With love for the world. With love for existence and for life, for the tender shoots of beauty and feeling that spring up everywhere in me and in the world, despite the crush of fear, delusion, and greed. Whatever I write about, I want that writing to be suffused with love. Maybe at its core, that is what the reading to live project has ever been.
Passionate attention, it’s a beautiful phrase for writing the experience of reading, or really, of engaging with anything in the world. I like it better than informed interest, which is perhaps something like the close cousin of passionate attention. Both speak to engagement with the world, and while “informed” suggests approaching that engagement with information, knowledge, perhaps even understanding, passionate suggests approaching it with strength of feeling, with one’s capacity for feeling flung fully open.
But maybe they don’t need to be thought of as mutually exclusive – though it does seem that in practice one often does seem to exclude the other. But why should they: why not passionate, informed attention? Why not an engagement that brings affect and understanding together to bear on the project of augmenting the scope of affect and understanding in relation to some particular thing in the world?
I would like to approach what I write about in that way and I want what I write to become, because of the creative integrity that I have brought to it, to become a further link in the chain; a belt for the further transmission of the strength and power of beauty and feeling in the world as I have encountered it, so that others may encounter it too, and may be moved, in turn, in ways spoken and unspoken, to enlarge the realm of beauty, feeling, and understanding in the world.
Deep down, I think I have a great deal of love within me. But I am afraid. In so many ways, I am afraid to share that love. Afraid of rejection, humiliation, embarrassment, and failure. It is as though over the years that great well of feeling has been beaten down, shrunken and cowering in a corner, half dead and ignored. I want in my daily life to bring that love back to life, to heal it, nourish it with care, grow it into an exuberant rhizomatic surface that touches everything and I want my writing to be the full on unbridled expression of that process.
What kinds of particular things do I want to write about in this way? Well, it could be a book, or part of a book, a phrase, a movie or scene in a movie, maybe a song or lyric, or piece of music performed, it could be an experience or an instant, an idea, a person or a character, or an encounter between people that one has observed, or in which one has participated. I wanted to be guided my affinities, like a dog chasing a scent through the woods. I want to be informed, but untroubled by and undefensive about questions of expertise or academic disciplines or areas of human endeavor.
So I would like to write about the experience of hearing and watching Claire play Bach on the piano, or the Shondes playing “the Start of Everything,” or Richard Hofstadter exploring his own soul in the wake of his wife’s death, or the love-hate relationship I have with the rigorous creativity of scientific thought because of the way my father, a scientist, raised me. I would like to write about the things that make me laugh out loud and the things that make me cry and the things that make me angry and the things that make me curious and I would like in what I write to understand how that has happened and, above all, to pass it on to my reader.