So I’m making progress on the Harry Potter. I think I know the point she’s going to make. It is a curious thing: you see how she’s doing things, you can even see how she improves at juggling all the things she’s juggling and driving at in her books, and you learn to anticipate what she’s going to do. Of course, I know how it ends, but this time I think I’ll come through with a good handle on what she’s doing. That’s the whole point of re-reading–to enjoy it again, of course, but mainly to understand how the outcome was achieved because that’s where the insight is.
Curious, isn’t it? Why should we think Rowling has any interesting insight for us? Because she is a good writer is why, and part of that must be opening windows into distances we would not otherwise see. It is not really worth while unless in some way it touches on eternity, it gives us contact with the permanent things.
I just finished listening to No Country for Old Men, which is gripping. I do not have McCarthy though, not on just one reading and not this book. He’s too deep for me. I do think he’s trying to find a place for hope in a world without faith, but he’s doing a lot of things with violence and with choice that I need to get a handle on and have not. He’s a deep one, I think. I’ll have to go back to the Border Trilogy and then eventually do No Country for Old Men again. I’ve only ever listened to any of his books I’ve done, and I think what I need to do is read.
Sailing to Byzantium, by the Poet Yeats
THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
* * *
I like that–the artifice of eternity.