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Lit / No room for anything but the old verities

The NYT book blog Paper Cuts recent­ly pub­lished a nice entry about William Faulkner's late-in-life vis­it to West Point. It remind­ed me of one of my favorite moments from the (appar­ent­ly out-of-print) Faulkn­er Read­er: his accep­tance speech for the 1949 Nobel Prize.Reading it again this after­noon, this por­tion of his speech seems espe­cial­ly time­ly and eerie …

Our tragedy today is a gen­er­al and uni­ver­sal phys­i­cal fear so long sus­tained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer prob­lems of the spir­it. There is only the ques­tion: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writ­ing today has for­got­ten the prob­lems of the human heart in con­flict with itself which alone can make good writ­ing because only that is worth writ­ing about, worth the agony and the sweat.He must learn them again. He must teach him­self that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teach­ing him­self that, for­get it for­ev­er, leav­ing no room in his work­shop for any­thing but the old ver­i­ties and truths of the heart, the old uni­ver­sal truths lack­ing which any sto­ry is ephemer­al and doomed — love and hon­or and pity and pride and com­pas­sion and sac­ri­fice.

The rest is here, on the Nobel Prize site. You can also lis­ten to Faulkner's speech from the Nobel archives [requires Real Play­er].

Owl - Lantern in grass
A few weeks ago, I sub­scribed to an arty Port­land blog called Urban Honk­ing. Every cou­ple of days, a pho­tog­ra­ph­er who goes by the name of "Owl" posts a few qui­et, dark pho­tos. This is one of them. As with Faulkn­er, I'm both jeal­ous and inspired. Check out more Owl pho­tos; it's total­ly worth it.


One reply on “Lit / No room for anything but the old verities”

hi doug. i was read­ing through these essays rice uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents wrote on lead­er­ship, and one girl said that when­ev­er she has a giant deci­sion in life, she always choos­es the one that ter­ri­fies her the most. i thought it sound­ed sil­ly but now i catch myself think­ing about it, and about how often i choose the least scary to avoid that fear.

i love the owl pho­tos and your flickr stuff too.

found you through plan­et car­leton…

miah