Meeting the sunlight: taking time to think

December 21, 2015 at 5:38 am | Posted in Books, digital technology, Quotations, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The picturesque town of Mallaig is on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. I was waiting for a coffee at the Mallaig Tea Rooms when I saw a framed scroll on the wall above the little coal fire. It read:

‘These are times of more convenience but less time, more knowledge but less judgement, fast foods but slow digestion, tall men but short character, steep profits but shallow relationships.

‘It is a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room.’

The Dalai Lama.
It was when I was travelling for six weeks between writing the text of Inspiring Australians and organising the book’s photographs. The quotation put me in mind of my book because a Churchill Fellowship enables the opportunity for time and expansion of thought, for slowly unfolding realisations and deepening rapports with overseas peers. Many Churchill Fellows told me that one thing they really treasured was the luxury of time to think. In the daily work world of back-to-back meetings and multi-tasking to meet competing deadlines there is little time to think.

Time to think shouldn’t be a luxury. Time to think is a necessity.

In the time since publication of my book, I have treasured my own time to think (about topics unrelated to my book). I’ve been cycling to the local library and coming away with an enormous pile of books to put in my basket, then riding home and devouring them. In one, Daniel Levitikin’s The Organized Mind: Thinking straight in an age of information overload (Viking, 2015) the author tells us that the brain is not wired to multitask and doing so increases our levels of cortisol and adrenaline. This overstimulates the ‘wrong’ parts of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, and causes foggy thinking, and sometimes aggressive and impulsive behaviour. If students watch TV while doing homework, the schoolwork information goes into the stratium, a region specialised for storing new procedures and skills, not facts and ideas. Without the distraction of TV, the information goes into the hippocampus, where it is organised and categorised in ways that make it easier to retrieve.

Focusing on one thing reduces the brain’s need for glucose. Multitasking chews up glucose, causing ‘the brain to burn through its fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain. This leads to compromises in both cognitive and physical performance.’ (The Guardian Weekly Feb. 2015, p. 27)

Writer Norbet Platt said, ‘The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.’ Of course the act of putting fingertips to keyboard, though not as pleasantly alliterative, does the same thing. So those of us who write blogs or journals or columns etc are doing the right thing in these times of having no time for reflection. It is our job to reflect. We must think in order to do our job properly. (And must try to in spite of those competing deadlines.)

American writer Pat Conroy thinks that ‘blog’ is the ugliest word in the English language. But he has a blog (www.patconroy.com) and he uses it ‘as a way to sneak back to his writing without being noticed’.

I thought that blog was the abbreviated combination of ‘biography’ and ‘log’ like a ship’s log but for a life (even if not aboard a ship). But no, apparently it is short for weblog. I hadn’t read Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides) in years, then my friend Bernadette recommended his memoir, My Reading Life (Random House, 2010), which is enjoyable, funny and rewarding. All Conroy’s life, books have been for him the portal to a wider world. He writes:

‘I have always taken a child’s joy in the painterly loveliness of the English language…. What richer way to meet the sunlight than bathing each day of my life in my island-born language, the one that Shakespeare breathed on, Milton wrestled with, Jane Austen tamed, and Churchill rallied the squadrons of England with?’ (p. 300-301)

Winston Churchill was steeped in these writers, as well as Gibbon and the King James Bible, and he loved the English language as much as Pat Conroy does. Unfortunately, most Reports of Churchill Fellows for the last 15 or so years are not written in language found in books like these but in the corporate jargon we are so familiar with now. Churchill would blanch if he could read what is being done to his beloved language. Exceptions include Rifaat Shoukrallah on road safety, virtuoso recorder player Genevieve Lacey and Courtney Page-Allen (digitising 1,535 portraits of Australian soldiers of World War I). All Reports can be viewed on the Trust’s website: www.churchilltrust.org.au

‘If you don’t breathe through writing,’ wrote French writer Anais Nin, ‘if you don’t cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.’ Times have changed. Now our culture has plenty of use for the leaden and deceptive obfuscations of managerial language. But although it is everywhere, most people don’t want to waste time on this unreadable bilge so popular with politicians, bureaucrats and bankers. They want to read people who do what William Wordsworth long ago advised: ‘Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart’. That is what we should all be doing, in fiction or blogs, letters or reports, articles or cook books. (Look at Nigella Lawson’s books – a delight to read them.) If you write in plain English with an open heart like she does, and like her compatriots George Orwell and Winston Churchill did, you won’t go wrong.

Technological ineptitude but all things seem possible

December 28, 2013 at 12:41 am | Posted in Books, Quotations | Leave a comment

First, an apology. I was taught how to blog by a not very good teacher who has gone on to something else and can’t be contacted. I didn’t realise until just the other day that in order to edit one’s blog, presumably one doesn’t have to press ‘Publish’ and then press the Edit to make changes but that there is a ‘Save’ and if I press that and then ‘Edit’ I get a chance to correct mistakes before I ‘Publish’. All this is guess work. I’ve just realised that it’s my more or less 1st drafts that must fly into followers’ in-boxes when I press ‘Publish’; and the version of two minutes later, edited, with corrected typos and the small changes that make a big difference are saved for posterity but that is not the version that followers receive! So sorry. It won’t happen again.

(It is just arbitrary; the above seems to have worked but now I don’t have any scope to fill in the Categories or tags. Sigh.)

People sometimes ask me how I come up with such fascinating books to read. Apart from having a BA (Hons) in English Literature (ANU, 1985) behind me plus 20 odd years of book reviewing, I rely a lot on the reviews in the New Yorker, the Literary Review and the Guardian Weekly. But the best one is the Guardian Weekly’s section just before Christmas where about 40 famous writers in English recommend their top few for the year and are given a paragraph to say why. You usually find some particular titles turning up on several lists and these are the ones that will usually be riveting.

This year’s section has Roddy Doyle, Philip Pullman, Michael Palin, Hilary Mantel, Lionel Shriver, Bill Bryson and Colm Toíbin and many others. As you probably know, The Luminaries won the Booker prize this year, and it is 830 pages long. Robert McFarlane writes ‘I read Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries three times in my capacity as Man Booker judge and each time round it yielded new riches. It is a vastly complex novel about investment and return, gift and theft, value and worth …’ (Guardian Wkly 20 December 2013, p. 50)

Someone gave it to me for Christmas and I’m really looking forward to reading it. But 830 pages – phew! Maybe I should postpone it until after my commissioned book deadline. My own favourite for this year? The one that really stands out for me is Andrea Goldsmith’s The Memory Trap. I loved it for the beauty of the language, the fascinating theme and the un-put-down-able plot. I actually tried to stretch it out so I wouldn’t have to finish it – and yet I also longed to read it as fast as I could! It’s about love, memory, relationships and more. I also loved Andrea Goldsmith’s previous novel, Reunion, which I thought was stunning, and it’s a mystery to me why such a great writer is not being feted and adored the world over. You will think about the ending of Reunion for a very long time.

A book I keep returning to is Michael Dirda’s Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life. You can dip into it anywhere and find treasure. There are wonderful quotations – to choose three at random, two of which happen to be relevant for this Australian holiday season. The first is not I hope relevant to anyone reading this. Franz Kafka wrote in his diary: ‘Sunday July 19, slept, awoke, slept, awoke, miserable life.’ William Gerhardie says, ‘We refilled our glasses with cognac, after which all things seemed possible.’ And Albert Camus said, ‘No one who lives in the sunlight makes a failure of his life.’

I don’t think he was thinking of the scorching Australian sun. I don’t understand what exactly he means but I love it. I don’t know the context but I imagine he is using sunlight as a metaphor for hope and optimism and focusing on the positive in life. Well that’s me for sure, so I won’t be a failure, even if I never get another novel published. (I know, I know, we can publish our own now. No time at the moment; I barely have time to submit it to publishers, and I want to try them first, the few who still accept “unagented” novel submissions. And no, no agent because it’s harder to get an agent now than it used to be to get a publisher.)

Now before I ‘Publish’ this I’ll do it in ‘Save’ and see if my deliberate typo (is that an oxymoron?) appears. I have hope and optimism and all things seem possible, even without a cognac!

“Mad with joy”

October 13, 2013 at 12:09 am | Posted in creativity, food, Quotations | Leave a comment
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‘The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tyres.’

American writer Dorothy Parker said that. I was lucky to get four stepchildren, three of whom – the three boys – lived with us for about half the time. Lucky because it had become too late for me to have children (that drought of men remotely possible that happens to women about mid-way through their 30s) and lucky because the stepchildren themselves were wonderful.

The only down-side was more housework, but their dad was pretty good at doing his share. This puts me in mind of another American comedian, Joan Rivers: Í hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.’

I recently converted the last, the youngest, boy’s bedroom into a gorgeous guest room when he moved into a converted garage at his mum’s place, not far away. Of course he is perfectly welcome to sleep in his old room any time he wants to, but now it looks (and smells) appealing.

The toy car engines are in the shed. The real car engines are in the shed. The heavy-duty dark blue curtains are in the shed. The dark furniture lasted about three minutes on the grass outside the house before being taken away. The desiccated rat behind the chest of drawers has gone.

His old single bed (handed down from older brothers) has become a sort of day-bed, with its pale green cotton doona cover with magnolias and embroidered blue and turquoise hummingbirds and matching pillows and cushions.

People – grownups, not adolescent boys – sigh with pleasure when they see the sunlight spilling in through the delicate white muslin curtains with blue embroidered borders onto the pale blue suede-painted walls and light cane and wicker furniture and recycled silk and cotton turquoise and blue rugs – it’s a dream of a room, they say.

And if it’s too “girlie” for the boys, there are always other rooms they can sleep in. When they lived here half the time, there was “girlie” bread and “girlie” milk, “girlie” butter and “girlie” rice. It was wholegrain versus white and full-cream versus skim and real butter versus margarine and white rice versus brown. A conflict expressed by the eldest boy with teasing affection to the only girl in the house.

Now they have gone except to visit, my house can be as “girlie” as I like. I even have flowers sometimes –pink lilies, delicate jasmine or armfuls of our jonquils and daffodils, bright yellow in blue glass vases. The boys don’t really notice flowers. But I’m with Iris Murdoch: “People from a planet without flowers must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”

Happiness and the What if…? questions

August 15, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Posted in art, creativity, Movies, Quotations | Leave a comment
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‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.’ Ghandi said that. It makes me happy just thinking about it.

Although for most of us it is more an ideal to strive towards as we flounder our way through life trying to earn a living. In our society almost totally geared to maximising financial profits for the few (someone called our system Totalitarian Capitalism) it is extremely hard to find worthwhile work. I’m lucky enough to have two worthwhile jobs I believe in: writing for the National Rural Health Alliance and writing a book for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

More on these another time. I’m also doing an ANU Centre for Continuing Education course, taken by Roy Forward. It is an erudite, witty ride through much stimulating aesthetic and intellectual pleasure. It’s on Art and Film. Roy said that aesthetics can give you a sense of infinite possibility, of the renewal of life, he spoke about the amazing capacity of art to catch us unawares and open up life for us once more.

It was such a pleasure being able to immerse myself in art when I was writing my latest novel, Beyond the Pale. This novel was inspired by an artist Roy talked about the other night in class: Camille Claudel. A film about her life (Camille Claudel) was directed by Bruno Nuyttens in 1988. This film was based on a biography of Camille Claudel that the Canberra Times asked me to with some others, then the editor said, no, we haven’t got the space for that Camille Claudel one, you just keep it and write about the others. It was too early in my writing career to take on this complicated subject so I wrote a simpler one first (Full House, Simon & Schuster, 1993) but I always knew I’d come back to Camille.

Camille Claudel was a talented sculptor who did not get along with her mother and who was determined to follow her passion, sculpting – and she was in love with her teacher and mentor Rodin, and he with her. When her father died she lost her protector. It’s a tragic tale that ends up with her being forced into the asylum in Paris where she stays for decades, until dying in the middle of World War II. If you read my novel you’d recognise almost nothing of this because I was burning to write a novel where I gave her a happy ending – and not by some sentimental deus ex machina.

What intrigued me about the biography of Camille Claudel was that there were a couple of unexplained, lengthy absences in the country before she was incarcerated. You should see her sculptures of small children. They tear at the heart! I kept thinking: What if…? What if…? I imagined she might have had a baby, out of wedlock of course, and he/she was looked after by a woman in the country, and that was where Camille went, to visit sometimes. I kept thinking that her life would have been different if only she … if only she … I kept thinking, What if…? What if…? What if she hopped on a boat and sailed to Australia? What if she could have had a second chance in a slightly more forgiving social climate?

What I did in my novel was bring her dates forward so she could have more of the 20th century in Australia plus I made her Irish because that’s my own background and plenty of Irish immigrated to Australia in those days but surely hardly any French? (Although I recently discovered the name of my paternal great grandmother – Ginnane – that sounds pretty French! What a French women might have been doing in Cairns, Queensland in the 19th century is anyone’s guess.) So my Camille Claudel became Deirdre Wild and was a surrealist painter who had an illegitimate daughter and settled in Clovelly, Sydney, in the 1920s.

That first novel was a comedy but this one is more serious, and involves three generations of women. It was great to immerse myself in the modernist art world of 20th century Sydney all the time I was writing that novel. And the cemetery at Clovelly, Waverley Cemetery – vast and on a cliff above the sea – inspired me. There were a lot of Irish names there too. The whole place was so intriguing. (As was a trip to the Blasket Islands in County Kerry – a whole ’nother story, as my American friend Susan says.) My stepdaughter was renting a Clovelly flat and I stayed there sometimes, walking the streets, exploring the cemetery, snorkelling in the bay, dreaming about the Razor Gang and Deirdre’s best friend who got mixed up with them and wound up in Callan Park asylum. Broughton Hall it was called then.

This novel has a happy ending but it’s hard to have a happy ending for everybody. Someone’s happiness might be at the expense of another person’s. What Deirdre Wild, the artist in Beyond the Pale thinks, says and does are in harmony, at least by the end, but that’s a long journey she’s taken, with sacrifices along the way. She sacrifices things for her art, but most people – including her daughter – sacrifice things for their children, so this novel is also about parent/child relationships. The mother/daughter ones I knew from the start would feature heavily, but the father/daughter relationship theme is one that took me by surprise.

Pan Macmillan is considering the novel MS. I say that not because there’s a probability that they will eventually accept it, but because this is about as good as it usually gets in the fiction game. I feel good because it’s very hard to get a publisher to just read the whole MS these days if you haven’t got an agent. Reasons leading up to the fact that it’s now harder to get an agent than it used to be to get a publisher is a blog in itself. In the meantime we writers try to make a living and have what we think, what we say and what we do remain in harmony, and some of us continue to write fiction on the side. Even if you’re successful there’s no money in it except for a tiny percentage (that’s another blog’s worth of reasons) but we do it because we love it, we love playing with words, we love following where our curiosity leads us, we love trying to find the answer to those What if…? What if…? questions.

How to be Idle and The Two Percent Solution

May 5, 2013 at 1:45 am | Posted in Books, Quotations | Leave a comment
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It was the old days of telegrams. You paid per word for the speedy delivery of your message, so they often had a particular tone of terse urgency. They had a tendency to contain either very good or very bad news, news that could not wait for the post. Robert Hughes, late with his commissioned book, Art of Australia (published in 1970), in a spirit of affectionate mockery, wrote to his editor/publisher Geoffrey Dutton, exaggerating the flavour of Dutton’s previous telegrams to him:

‘DO YOU SERIOUSLY PROPOSE WRITING THIRTYFIVE THOUSAND REMAINING WORDS IN TWENTYFOUR HOURS WHAT IS HAPPENING DESPERATELY DUTTON’.

My situation will be like that if I don’t start seriously writing my own commissioned book soon. There is always so much else to do. (What did I say last week about time management, in ‘Big Rocks’? I need to heed my own advice.)

But we seem to have had so much more time before electronic communication was invented. In the bush my mother posted our correspondence ‘sets’ when we’d done all the work in them and we received the month’s new set by the post. I can’t remember how we got our post (once a fortnight?) but it was exciting when it happened. In the city it came twice a day. In Charles Darwin’s time the post came five times a day, which is practically as good as email. I guess it went gradually down until today’s once a day.

We’ve gained much from our instant electronic communication but I can’t help feeling we’ve lost much too. The speed of contemporary life can give you vertigo. Just like the speed of the cars. Last week’s book, Car Sick: Solutions for our car-addicted culture by Lynn Sloman does indeed have solutions. It is a very accessible book, fascinating, illuminating, full of hope and beautifully written. One of the solutions is decreasing the speed limit in suburbs, which radically reduces the accident, injury and death rates plus changes the feeling of places by making them safe for children and cyclists and improving social life and social cohesion.

We, most of us, have a tendency to go too fast in every area of our lives. There is always too much to do. And when are we supposed to squeeze in our art: our writing or singing or painting or dancing? Okay: two solutions. The first lies in Tom Hodgkinson’s How to be Idle (2004) and the second in Marcia Hughes’ The Two Percent Solution.

How to be Idle describes the slow food movement or the International Movement for the Defense of and the Right to Pleasure. Founded in 1986 by a group of left-wing Italians who were appalled by the cultural ascendancy of fast food, it aimed to bring pleasure, quality, variety and humanity back to the production and eating of food. It spread all over Europe and is now in the US and here as well. Their logo is a snail.

Their philosophy goes beyond food and is a protest against the dehumanising mechanisation of life. Their Manifesto states: ‘Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilisation, first invented the machine and took it as its life model. … We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life … May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.’ (p. 65)

So how are we to write or paint or practise our art in these times of unprecedented frenzy? Another way is proposed by Marcia Hughes in The Two Percent Solution. She reckons that all we need to practise our art and then become fulfilled and happy is 2% of our day, ie, 30 minutes. Surely we can all squeeze 30 minutes for ourselves and our art every day?

Yeats wrote, ‘Art only comes when there is abandon, and a world of dreaming and waiting and passionate meditation.’ Could we get into that state within 30 minutes? Well, let me close with another quotation, from Marcia Hughes’ The Two Percent Solution: ‘Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.’ (Anon, p. 33 of Hughes). So I think we can.

Creativity and Time Management

April 28, 2013 at 5:32 am | Posted in Books, Quotations | Leave a comment
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I’m working on a commissioned book (more on that another time), I have a four day a week writing job already plus I go routinely to the library and borrow the books I’ve reserved and try to find the time to read them before their due date. Some of the books relate to the commissioned book, but many don’t. Hmmm … most don’t. Is my ambition to read the following list of books within three weeks an unrealistic commitment of my time?

A Spirit of Play by David Malouf
Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers
Car Sick: Solutions for our car-addicted culture by Lynn Sloman
In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honorée
The Engagement by Chloe Hooper
and also a captivating book I bought at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, Paul Klee for Children by the beautifully named Silke Vry.

I didn’t buy Paul Klee for Children for a child. I bought it for me. It is a fabulous book about creativity. I’ve always thought that it’s the child in me that creates. One needs that spirit of play, to let go and take risks, to have a holiday from that habitual state that our society forces us into most of the time, the right-brained, logical, linear approach to life.

To answer the question above about unrealistic assessments of what I can do in a given time, I probably can read that number of books in three weeks because of the spectacular inefficiency of the Canberra public transport system or at least the bus routes by which I have to travel to work. I could look at the scenic tour of the eight suburbs the No 2 bus meanders through while en route to Deakin West, or I can use that time to read. (Car Sick by Lynn Sloman is about English transport conditions; if you want to read about Australian conditions and solutions, read anything by Paul Mees. Fantastic writer and creative thinker.)

Knowing that most people drive, however, I realise that it’s a problem finding time to read, let alone time to be a child and to paint or write or do other creative things. I find it difficult myself to be as creative as I’d like to be, so this following little parable is a case of ‘Do what I say, not Do what I do’. The story of Big Rocks makes it clear what we have to do if we are serious about squeezing our creative pursuits into our too-busy, too-full, frenetic lives.

Big Rocks

A man teaching a class had a wide-mouthed jar, which represented the amount of time per week – or day. He filled the jar with big rocks.
‘Is it full?’ he asked his class.
‘Yes,’ they answered.
‘No.’ He filled it with gravel. ‘Is it full now?’
‘Maybe,’ the class answered.
‘No.’ He filled it with sand.
‘Is it full now?’
‘Probably not,’ the class answered.
‘Correct.’ And he filled it with water.

If you don’t put the big rocks in first, they will never fit into the jar because it will be full of small things. What you must decide is: What are your big rocks?”

L. K. Ludwig. Creative Wildfire. Mass., Quarry, 2010.

“Busy-ness”: an update on writing and living

March 11, 2013 at 1:10 am | Posted in Books, Quotations | Leave a comment
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I haven’t updated this for a long time because of much busy-ness: Chaucer wrote, “Great peace is to be found in little busy-ness”. He was correct. But who is not too busy these days? So sometimes I take a Sunday off and do nothing. (Sundays will be my time for blogging from now on.) Of course my doing nothing is busy compared with some people’s idea of doing nothing. When I say I do nothing, I mean I take the time to sit in the garden, do yoga, read a non-work book, meet friends and perhaps tidy my wardrobe.
What I have done since my last blog: finished my novel. Researched on who to submit it to. I have written a lot of publications, which I have not been able to put on my Publications List on my website because Crazy Domains refuse to answer any emails. There is no other way of contacting them. The contract runs out soon and so I can then be released to be able to get a competent domain registrar. I have about eight new articles published, including one in press that is a chapter in Penguin’s Bush Nurses (to be published 20 March). So this has been frustrating.
I am still reading The Guardian Weekly, New Yorkers and many wonderful books. More on these next Sunday. I have my four day a week writing job and more news next time on another book commission. Not official yet. Let me end with this quotation from Julian Barnes from The Guardian Weekly 20 July 2012. ‘Life and reading are not separate activities. When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life; you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic and for this serious task of imaginative discovery, there is and remains one perfect symbol: the printed book.’

Quotations about language, literature and life

April 27, 2012 at 6:02 am | Posted in Quotations | 2 Comments

‘The whole quality of cycling is akin to swimming: the economy of effort, the defiance of gravity, the dancing rhythm, and the general need to keep moving, lest you sink or topple. As modes of propulsion, both could safely be classified as environmentally friendly. I enjoy the gliding, swooping motion of the bike as I enjoy the grace of swimming.’  Roger Deakin. Waterlog, p. 257.

‘Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.’  Richard Steele.

‘Civilisation’s greatest single invention is the sentence. In it, we can say anything.  John Banville. ‘Authors on Writing’ www.guardian.co.uk/books 3 March 2009.

‘Fiction is nothing less than the subtlest instrument for self-examination and self-display that mankind has invented yet.’  John Updike.

‘I quote others only the better to express myself.’  Montaigne.

‘Language is the greatest resource of a culture. It is the repository of thought and the expression of dreams. No activity above the level of brute survival can be accomplished without language. When language is raised to the level of literature, one approaches heaven. Creating a program to develop writers is not a mere idyll for an English department. It is an act of cultural integrity.’  Rita Mae Brown. Starting from Scratch, p. 209.

‘Art only comes when there is abandon, and a world of dreaming and waiting and passionate meditation.’  Yeats.

‘Everything we think and say has a history.’  Andrew Sayers, opening the Manning Clark House Weekend of Ideas April 2011.

‘Without literature, human life is animal life.’  Randall Jarrell.

‘Literature enlarges our being by admitting us to experiences not our own. They may be beautiful, terrible, awe-inspiring, exhilarating, pathetic, comic, or merely piquant. Literature gives the entrée to them all. Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realise the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. … In reading good literature, I become a thousand men, and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and I am never more myself when I do.’  C.S. Lewis.

‘Writing enlarges the landscape of the mind.’  V. S. Pritchett.

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