Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yet another beautiful quote

“In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence.  Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable – which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live.  We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity.  But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us.

Maybe I should have said we are like planets.  But then I would have lost some of the point of saying that we are like civilizations.  The planets may all have been sloughed from the same star, but still the historical dimension is missing from that simile, and it is true that we all do live in the ruins of the lives of other generations, so there is a seeming continuity which is important because it deceives us.”
                                                              Marilynne Robinson: Gilead   

I have just read this lovely book, from which I take this quote.  There is much both in the book and the quote that I don’t really understand at first reading, and yet I know that it is teaching me much about life.  I love what she says about our being “such secrets from each other”, and being allowed “to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us”.
It is always such a delight for me to read a good book and discover a new author.  I now find that she has written two sequels to this book over a number of years, one called Home, which I am just starting and the other just published called Lila. 
I am always slightly suspicious of writers who seem to churn out books at rapid intervals, probably urged on by their publishers, and I always feel much more secure when I find that a writer’s books appear at long intervals.  This may be unfair to the more prolific writers, but the long gestation of a book often allows me to savour the deep pleasure of words which have been pondered over, many often discarded over time, and just their essence appearing in the final book.  Too many books I have recently read have just been too long and too what I call “unedited”.  A good editor would surely have pruned much away. 
Long may the Marilynne Robinsons of this world work slowly to bring forth masterpieces such as the one I have just read.

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