Though I am only a speck in the universe, among an infinitude of specks, both unimaginably larger and unimaginably smaller than I, it is also true that I am consciously at the center of the universe, that the universe stretches out from me like a sphere that has no possible circumference. This paradox is irreducible. The impossibility of both science and theology lies in their attempts, albeit in opposite directions, to resolve it.
I am always interested to hear the process by which the writers I respect go about their writing. This is what Jorge Luis Borges has to say in the foreword to his 1969 collection, In Praise of Darkness:
“I do not have an aesthetics. Time has taught me a few tricks – avoiding synonyms, the drawback to which is that they suggest imaginary differences; avoiding Hispanicisms, Argentinisms, archaisms, and neologisms; using everyday words rather than shocking ones; inserting circumstantial details, which are now demanded by my readers, into my stories; feigning a slight uncertainty, since even though reality is precise, memory is not; narrating events (this I learned from Kipling and Icelandic sagas) as though I did not fully understand them; remembering that tradition, conventions, the rules, are not an obligation, and that time will certainly repeal them – but such tricks (or habits) are most certainly not an aesthetics. Anyway, I do not believe in those formulations that people call an aesthetics. As a general rule, they are no more than useless abstractions; they vary from author to author and even from text to text, and can never be more than occasional stimuli or tools.”
There is a new used bookstore in Guelph, Janus Books, at 10 Paisley Street, in the plaza at the corner of Paisley and Norfolk. I have not yet been able to have a real look through the store, which is to say that I have only been in with my children in tow, so I cannot say anything about the stock, but any used bookstore is a good used bookstore, and a city the size of Guelph should not be making do with only two of them, as it has been for too long. So welcome Janus Books. May your stay in Guelph be a long one.
I just dug the garlic from my garden last night. For those of you who are keeping score at home, that is a solid month earlier than I normally do. The peas have all flowered and fruited and withered already. The chokecherries are done. The onions, except where I planted too close to the walnut trees, look like they usually do in the middle of August. The dill, and oregano, and cilantro is going to seed. I am already taking in zucchini. Everything that the heat has not withered seems ahead of itself, and I feel as if the weather should soon be breaking into fall, except that it is only now mid-way through July.
I recently bought a used copy of Ivan Illich’s Gender, and it had a slip of pink paper as a bookmark that contained this wonderful list:
1. Call Mom
2. Natural to be afraid
3. Card from Faith Church
I am not sure whether the items are meant to relate to one another, but there is a sort of poetry about them. I am happy they were left for me.
I am pleased to announce the publication of Island Pieces, a collection of short fiction, poetry, and photography that recall the summers I spent on Manitoulin Island as a youth. Many of the pieces were posted as early drafts here on From Word to Word, so if you want a flavour of what the book is like, just check out the Stories category in the navigation bar.
The book is available at Lulu.com as a hardcover, a trade paperback, and a .pdf. The paperback will be available from major book sites like BarnesAndNoble and Amazon in six or eight weeks, but the Lulu prices will always be cheaper, and they get me a better cut as the author as well. Also, because of the way that I have arranged distribution, I need to charge a minimum of $2.00 for the ebook on Lulu and who knows how much on BarnesAndNoble or Amazon, so here is a link to a free version, and there is also a link on the Longer Works page. Those who are looking for a true ebook format will probably get what you want in a couple of weeks, so be patient.
The observant among you will notice that the book has been released through a publishing company called Vocamus Press, which is a co-operative publishing venture that I am starting with a few friends. We are by no means ready to launch the project formally yet, but we will be publishing a few titles under that name over the next few months (including a new edition of Lindy that has already been released), hoping to have a nice big launch and party in the fall, so stay tuned for details.