Tag Archives: incubation

Our Souls at Night – Kent Haruf – talking in the dark

In my last post I touched upon the half-imagined essence shining through a work in progress – via incubation, the search for one’s language (in whatever form,) through the heart. This kind of search is bound to involve deep personal experiences, be it related to an outer or inner place, as the myth of one’s existential journey, which, when authentically communicated and shared tends to assume universal significance.

Kent Haruf –  (Feb 1943 – Nov 2014,) a humble, kind and unbiased writer, developed a powerful language. He shaped words until the essence of his characters stood clear – endearingly visible through sparse dialogues, exposing silent inner dramas all the more. The way I see it, his characters are letting sorrow be – a pragmatic yin approach that helps one to move along with the relentless forwarding force of life.

It is high art that sketches a story with modest words that slip right into the reader’s heart.

‘Our Souls at Night,’ is Kent Haruf’s last novel, published after his death. The story opens with possibilities: “And then there was the day Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.”  The courageous elderly Addie propositions Louis, a neighbour, widowed like herself, to share her bed during lonely nights. She scarcely knows the man, but acts intuitively on her need for companionship.

Talking in the dark, their hands occasionally touching, Louise and Addie come to value their fragile pact. Even Addie’s abandoned visiting grandson is wooed by the loving regard between his grandmother and her new friend, and their tolerance and tender concern for him, which is, the way I read it, the initiation of a small boy into the wisdom of respect. While the petty gossip of townsfolk adds to the fun of their social transgression and strengthen the closeness they’re forging, the jealous objections of Louis’s daughter and Addie’s son are truly hurtful, and in the end decisive.

Making less use of the environmental atmosphere that sparkles in earlier books;  this last story keenly sharpens on the inner sanctuary of lonely people.

The backdrop to these novels about ordinary fates is the sleepy fictional town ‘Holt’ on the high plains of Colorado, which embodies the writer’s reclusive childhood.

In an essay published in the Granta magazine, Haruf movingly shares about his difficult early life, and how it advantaged him later on – follow this link, it’s worthwhile …  – The Making of a Writer.

… ‘Years of unhappiness and isolation and living inwardly to myself have helped me to be more aware of others and to pay closer attention to what others around me are feeling. Which are good things if you are trying to learn how to write fiction about characters you care about and love’ …

And he has a message for fellow writers …

… ‘You have to believe in yourself despite the evidence. I felt as though I had a little flame of talent, not a big talent, but a little pilot-light-sized flame of talent, and I had to tend to it regularly, religiously, with care and discipline, like a kind of monk or acolyte, and not to ever let the little flame go out.’ …

Le Guin wrote that Haruf’s “courage and achievement in exploring ordinary forms of love – the enduring frustration, the long cost of loyalty, the comfort of daily affection – are unsurpassed by anything I know in contemporary fiction”.

Kent Haruf’s novels will certainly enrich your reading list during the coming festive day.

And, my wishful thinking, have a sneak at my mythical quest: Course of Mirrors, to be followed by its  immersive sequel, Shapers. Funds allowing, please consider supporting my efforts at Patreon

Related … don’t miss this short video about the most compelling story of a woman who found a language for her myth – think of incubation, cocoon, deep, deep desire to protect …

The blue-highlighted links in this post will open new pages – so you won’t lose this page. Thank you for reading.

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Parmenides – Philosopher – Poet

Last week, while re-working an article I wrote 18 years ago on the symbolism of  two West European Nations, namely Germany and England (having lived equal decades in each), I lost myself in the history of these nations, back to the Roman Empire and its fall. Something was missing. Reeling back another thousand years, to my beloved philosophers, I found IT.

I was reminded of the only ever poetry course I attended, where a tutor told me ‘You have to decide whether you want to be a philosopher or a poet.’  Over the years I’ve come to realise that some good people, in order to be respected, have sadly allowed their inner voice to be silenced by the academic system.                                                                                                                           *    *    *                                                                                                                                                                         Here an excerpt of Parmenides’s poem as it appears in Kingsley’s ‘In the Dark Places of Wisdom’. The text is subtle, humorous, with repetitions that are no accident. The poem induces a journey that appears in many traditions throughout the world under many names.

The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach

rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary

road of divinity that carries the man who knows

through the vast and dark unknown. And on I was carried

as the mares, aware just where to go, kept carrying me

straining the chariot; and young women led the way.

And the axle in the hubs let out the sound of a pipe

blazing from the pressure of the two well-rounded wheels

at either side, as they rapidly led on: young women, girls,

daughters of the Sun who had left the mansions of Night

for the light and pushed back the veils from their faces with their hands.

There are the gates of the pathways of Night and Day,

held fast in place between the lintel above and a threshold of stone;

and they reach up into the heavens, filled with gigantic doors.

And the keys – that now open, now lock – are held fast by

Justice: she who always demands exact returns. And with

soft seductive words the girls cunningly persuade her to

push back immediately, just for them, the bar that bolts

the gates. And as the doors flew open, making the bronze

axles with their pegs and nails spin – now one, now the other –

in their pipes, they created a gaping chasm. Straight through and

on the girls held fast their course for the chariot and horses;

straight down the road.

And the goddess welcomed me kindly, and took

my right hand in hers and spoke these words as she addressed me:

‘Welcome young man, partnered by immortal charioteers,

reaching our home with the mares that carry you. For it was

no hard fate that sent you travelling this road – so far away

from the beaten track of humans – but Rightness, and Justice.

And what’s needed is for you to learn all things: both the unshaken

heart of persuasive Truth and the opinions of mortals,

in which there is nothing that can truthfully be trusted at all.

But even so, this too you will learn – how beliefs based on

appearances ought to be believable as they travel all through

all there is.

*    *    *

The hero travels the road of death while still alive, making the connection between this world and the other.  He goes to the depth of ignorance – the ignored – to unknowing – in search for wisdom instead of straight to the light

Kingsley says when Plato and his followers took over these ideas from the Pythagoreans they cleverly amputated the ambiguities: focussed only on the true and the good and the beautiful, and cut out the need for the descent.  He makes a link to inscriptions  discovered during the 60s in Velia, Italy. Three words puzzled …  Ouliades – Iatromantis –Apollo … The healer who can access special states of awareness, look beyond appearances, give voice to what has no voice. In Sept 1962, at the same place, Mario Napoli found a small block of marble with another inscription: Parmeneides son of Pyres Ouliades Physicos

These findings must present a challenge to historians. Obviously they stayed clear of the mystic drone carrying the song of Parmenides and the Pythagorean’s. The incubatory practice and its profound wisdom were rationalised out of western history. Kingsley writes:

Between them, Parmenides and Empedocles laid the most basic foundations for the world and culture we now live in. But with the passing of time we have forgotten who they were. The truth about the real nature of their work has been neglected, distorted, ignored—transformed into just another of those empty illusions that they themselves tried to set us free from. There is nothing accidental about the fact that we in the West are starved for some real sense of meaning and crying out for something that, in spite of all our apparent sophistication and material success, we are no longer even able to name. This western civilization of ours was created for a purpose. Until we start to discover that purpose again, our lives will be meaningless. Unless we touch our roots and make contact again with the essence of our past, we can have no future.

http://www.peterkingsley.org/pages.cfm?ID=5

One of the many resources Peter Kingsley used:

/www.amazon.com/The-Fragments-of-Parmenides-ebook/dp/B002ZVPTEY

 

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