Flann O Brien "----a sweet dose of hopelessness" - He writes with an offhand lilt that twists the drab ordinary into a peculiar precision.
Blaise Pascal blames all the trouble of the world on people ever leaving their rooms, his view of man as a "thinking reed" (le plus faible de la nature)
James Joyce, that overbearing master to the Dublin quotidian
Martin Luther, the inventor of inwardness---throwing his ink-pot at the devil
(Dedicated to Bernard Blistene)
"l`impossible, nous ne l atteignons pas,il nous sert de lanterne" ( Rene Char)
After a 100 years of its publication James Joyce`s masterpiece still remains one of the most imaginative pieces of writing of the 20th century. Joyce `self-imposed exile from Ireland in 1904 took him to 3 main European cities, Trieste-Zurich-Paris. Bemoaning the Ireland of which he left, an Ireland of servitude to the imperial British state and the holy Roman catholic church. Joyce however was to "forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race" by his vocation to writing. Joyce looked to himself as the artist paring his nails out of all existence. While Joyce was employed as an English teacher in the city of Trieste and later in Zurich, he was responding to the avant-garde movements of the futurist, Dada and surrealist artists in those cities at the time. These modern movements consequently helped Joyce to conceive his monster novel as he called it in searching for a new literary form, free and away from the tradition of defining characters by their moral vision, He was searching a literary form which would solve the problem of what is "significant" in human life and what incidents should be selected, in other words a microcosm-a small scale model of the whole of life to which all attitudes are possible. One of the Futurist artists, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti whose publication Words in Freedom which influenced Joyce so much so that it became the basis of a new narrative technique which abandoned punctuation, releasing words from their linear sequences but also introducing the mixing of interior monologue and the third person narrative.
This writer has been considered by many to be one of the most original religious and political thinkers of the 20th century. She was born in Paris, in 1909, into a French Jewish bourgeois family with an extraordinary intelligence. Many great writers were full of praise for her intelligence and asceticism Andre Gide called her the best spiritual writer of the 20th century while Albert Camus thought of her as one of the most important social political thinker since Karl Marx. The poet T.S.Eliot acknowledge her genius akin to that of the saints. Yet why then is Simone Weil not better known as a writer and her writings not widely read?
For those who are Christians, Simone Weil s thought and writings appear to be outside the limits of what most Christians believe to be the orthodox Christian faith. She also refused baptism, claiming that she could not subscribe to the whole Catholic dogma In a word- a Christian from the exterior. She wrote to cross boundaries of Christian thought with the Bible. Greek Mythology especially believing that the great Greek Epics of Homer and the ideas of Plato could be a spiritual source of a human community stretching beyond the confines of Christianity. She made a special study of the social writings of Karl Marx. In other words. she was tackling social and political issues from a Christian perspective.
With the recent restrictions which have reduced our normal movements and activities to ‘routine’, we can use this time to reflect on the fragility and preciousness of everything we have. In other words, a good time to take stock of ourselves and direct our minds to some strong free-flowing ideas of who we are. This is a time to examine our own inner worlds, allowing our imagination to pursue what we understand by this strange period that we are experiencing of waiting, this vague sense of longing and our restless processes of frustration and boredom with our indistinct guesses of what the future might bring.
We find our present sense of lethargy and lassitude in the poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). This French poet saw the Paris of his time as a centre of isolation. In ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ (The Flowers of Evil), he describes how crowds mean loneliness: “Multitude, Solitude!”. These terms are interchangeable for him.
Some things at a time like this take on a certain significance in one's life. This is due to the lack of freedom, as normal movements taken for granted, have been removed. ln moments like these l find myself turning to poetry as a source of inspiration or simply as a kind of consolation.
John Keats (1795-1821) was certainly one of the greatest English poets whose genius has been compared to William Shakespeare. Keats built his objects from his imagination, creating objects inside his head as a kind of celebration of the inner senses. Since Keats was such a sickly individual, dying at the age of 26 years of age of tuberculosis, his ability was to create magnificent fragmentations by his genial creative use of his imagination. We, in our present state of isolation, can profit enormously from what Keats instructs us to do - the personal and creative use of our imagination.