September 11, 2006

"Why is writing important? Mainly, out of egotism, I suppose."

"Because I want to be that persona, a writer, and not," writes Susan Sontag, "because there is something I must say."
Yet why not that too? With a little ego-building — such as the fait accompli this journal provides — I shall win through to the confidence that I (I) have something to say, that should be said. My “I” is puny, cautious, too sane. Good writers are roaring egotists, even to the point of fatuity. Sane men, critics, correct them — but their sanity is parasitic on the creative fatuity of genius.
Well, this is all very bloggish, isn't it? I'm just noticing this long collection of journal entries because it's high on the NYT most-emailed list right now. It was in yesterday's NYT Magazine, which I never got around to opening -- other than to note that the second puzzle was not one of the kind I do. I was terribly busy on Sunday. And I don't mean just blogging about and trying to watch that damned docudrama. I did have the magazine in bed and then next to the bed all night, but I never got to the point of reading it.

Years ago, when I wanted to be an artist, I once expressed that idea "I want to be that persona, [an artist]" to a large mixed group. I said it too emphatically, to the point of... fatuity... and later felt quite ashamed and just wished I hadn't said it. I really felt that the important thing was to be an artist, to live the life of an artist, and then you'd have to do the art, of course, but that was secondary. Later, I thought, what an idiot, how embarrassing.

Too puny, too cautious, too sane.


David said...

What you learned is that living is the highest form of art!

The celebration of life!

Ron said...

"An artist lives under the vampire of his talent." -- Nietzsche

amba said...

And now for something completely trivial: Which kind of puzzle do you do? (Me acrostic. When we're together, my 88 year old dad xeroxes them and we race each other.)

Ann Althouse said...

My favorite is the acrostic. But I also love the diagramless. I do them all in ink too.

vnjagvet said...

Your blog is one expression of your artistry.

Writing, Art, Philosophy, Entertainment, Photography, Food, Music, Politics and Law all find their way here, as you are moved to reveal your thoughts on them.

Crisp, always interesting, and never boring.

Egotism? Why not? Nothing wrong with that.

amba said...

I do 'em in ink too, with the result that I sometimes have to cross things out and make a mess of it. But not very often.

Reading the Sontag:

I cannot write until I find my ego. The only kind of writer I could be is the kind who exposes himself.. . .To write is to spend oneself, to gamble oneself. But up to now I have not even liked the sound of my own name. To write, I must love my name. The writer is in love with himself. . .and makes his books out of that meeting and that violence.

Utter bulls**t. (Guess she's striving for that fatuity which doesn't come naturally, because she's too critical and self-conscious.) She sounds like she's trying to sound like Norman Mailer. All kinds of vanity and anxiety can get us writers to want to be writers, to have the persona, but at the moment of actully writing we have to get out of the way. Both sex and art are like a single-
lens reflex camera: you can't see what you're doing and do it at the same time. At the moment of creation you go blind.

There's some counter-bulls**t for ya!

amba said...


Sometime later (if I had the magazine in hand, it would be easier to go back and see how much later) she says:

I’m not “saying something.” I’m allowing “something” to have a voice, an independent existence (an existence independent of me)

Growing up? More experience of actually doing it.

amba said...


I like to feel dumb. That’s how I know there’s more in the world than me.