Monday, January 12, 2009


Over the years, I have been an inveterate marker-upper of my reading material. Using a pen and not a highlighter (I gave these up as an undergrad), I have underscored passages I thought deserved future attention and put "X's" in the margin to call attention to especially important ones. The more "X's," the more significant (more than three indicated mind-blowing).

My all time record is 10x, given to two, which follow:

And then he began to see the unbelievable magnitude of what man, when he gained the power to withstand and rule the world in terms of dialectic truths had lost. He had built empires of scientific capability to manipulate the phenomena of nature into
enormous manifestations of his own dreams of power and wealth —but for this he had exchanged an empire of equal magnitude: an understanding of what it is to be a part of the world and not an enemy of it.
--Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (377-78)

And round and round, the merely going round,
Until merely going round is a final good,
The way wine comes at a table in a wood.

And we enjoy like men, the way a leaf
Above the table spins its constant spin,
So that we look at it with pleasure, look

At it spinning its eccentric measure. Perhaps
The man-hero is not the exceptional monster,
But he that of repetition is most master.
--Wallace Stevens, "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" (Collected Poems, 405-406)

1 comment:

Variations On A Theme said...

I feel like an idiot, because I don't understand the Wallace Stevens poem.

Many people I know and respect adore Stevens, but I've never "gotten it." But before I took the Milton class with..(ooh, I forgot the professor's name) at MTSU, Paradise Lost was just a jumble of words. Then I understood it and fell in love with it.

I'd love to take a Wallace Stevens class - not just in order to feel like less of an idiot, but because I want to be enlightened.