In our household books move and arrive arrested in some interesting configurations: Susan Stewart’s On Longing underneath Wendell Berry’s Home Economics and both bearing well under the weight of the two volume C.K. Scott Moncrieff translations of Proust’s Recherche.
Sometimes the magic is comparative and relies less on the titles and associations. That sort of magic comes from finding the passages noted in one book providing an echo of passages in the other: the copy of Lewis White Beck’s translation of Kant’s Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals has a slip drawing attention to the idea of happiness being an absolute and thus escaping the will of an empirical finite being to form a definite concept of happiness. And how the passage in question reads so very much like the “catastrophize” neologism encountered by the recovering protagonist of Nervous System by Jan Lars Jensen.
A Beck-rendered sentence from Kant to explain the human predicament: “If he wills a long life, who guarantees that it will not be long misery?” alongside Jensen’s description of months-long “doomsday postulating”.
And just the day before yesterday one nice turn of phrase found in Bronwen Price’s “Verse, Voice, and Body: the retirement mode and women’s poetry 1680-1723” in Early Modern Literary Studies (January 2007) — “protean impulses of melancholy”.
As children, the appellation “spoil sport” conferred a certain sense of power. Often it meant saving imagination from deceivers, recognizing what is for what could be. Deceivers eager for one particular could be shut-down-possibilities. Knowing the end of a story does not preclude not knowing how to tell the story. Children as great melancholics? The sad child is a theatrical marvel.
And so for day 84