Days Like These

24 April 1949

JULIEN GREEN,

American writer living in Paris, notes in his diary:

"Read the Introduction to Kierkegaard by Jolivet. Few books have upset me so much since I came into this world. It is horrifying at times to discover oneself in another man, and this happened to me when I read this book. But isn't it the role of very great men to reveal us to ourselves? I mean that they teach us what we knew without knowing that we knew it. In this sense, Kierkegaard's sentences are like so many magic mirrors where the soul is reflected and sees itself for the first time."

26 April 1915

WNP BARBELLION,

naturalist and writer, notes in his journal:

"In the spirit of pious resignation Thomas a Kempis wrote: `Meddle not with things that be too high for thee, but study such things as yield compunction to the heart rather than elevation to the head.' I like to put alongside this the delightful passage from Sir Thomas Browne's Religio: `I love to lose myself in a mystery, to pursue my reason to an O altitudo! `This my solitary recreation to pose my apprehension with those involved enigmas and riddle of the Trinity, Incarnation and Resurrection.' Recreation is great!

"I have always meddled with things that are too high for me, my first adventure being Berkeley at the age of 15, a philosopher who captured my amazement over a period of many months. Like a little London gamin, I run about the great city of the mind and hang on behind the big motor lorries of thought. `Looked at from the point of view of multiplicity, duration disintegrates into a powder of moments, none of which endures, each being an instantaniety.' No matter if I do not understand Bergson: in a sentence like that I catch at least the rumour of some tremendous thought. It is like putting one's ear to a telegraph pole on top of a wind-swept heath..."

26 April 1972

NED ROREM,

composer, writes in his journal:

"It is important to be alive. For every Sylvia Plath who made a living out of dying, 20 good poets' credit is cancelled by death. Death does not reduce a painter's cachet, since his work is an investment; but an original manuscript by a Plath isn't `worth' anything. No sooner does an artist die than his work locates itself, becomes less urgent, asks to be balanced and judged."

Ian Irvine

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