Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yeats on the art of life vs writing

This excerpt from a poem called "The Choice" by W.B. Yeats is highly interesting, coming from a man of letters in the middle of life:


The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life, or of the word
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark

Similarly he wrote this on life vs writing in his diary at some time in 1909:

"To keep these notes natural and useful to me I must keep one note from leading to another, that I may not surrender myself to literature. Every note must come as a casual thought, then it will be my life. Neither Christ nor Buddha nor Socrates wrote a book, for to do that is to exchange life for a logical process. "
I find these thoughts rather soothing as well as disturbing, as I find the balance between writing and living somewhat difficult. Not that I am a writer of any kind, but I recognize Yeats' fear of wrapping one's thoughts or insights into a larger logic, a logic aleady defined and lined up, ready to mould and melt your independent thought into a larger pattern of sorts.
This time I might actually take someone's advise and follow it. I think I will try to be conscious of this while writing in my journal - whenever that will be.

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