essential reading for the summer daze
So the school holidays began last week, which means that for many summer is really only beginning even though if I’m honest, I feel the heart of summer has already passed. The first time it’s properly hot and sunny you fall under a kind of madness; a kind of desperation when every moment is so bloody precious (especially working 9-6 with a forty five minute bus journey each way), and it’s really, really great. But the minute it’s not quite so hot and bright any longer it’s also kind of a relief, because living that way is exhausting.
Nevertheless – like I said, for some summer is only really beginning. So it’s the season of what they call ‘jetting off’ and holiday reading, which is of course the topic of this post. My essential summer read is A Happy Death by Albert Camus, and I’m going to tell you why.
Hermann Hesse & the idea of Woman
‘There is much that is immortal in this medieval lady. The dragons have gone, and so have the knights, but still she lingers in our midst. She reigned in many an early Victorian castle, and was Queen of much early Victorian song. It is sweet to protest her in the intervals of business, sweet to pay her honour when she has cooked our dinner well. But alas! the creature grows degenerate. n her heart there are also springing up strange desires. She too is enamoured of heavy winds, and vast panoramas, and green expanses of the sea. She has marked the kingdom of this world, how full it is of wealth, and beauty, and war – a radiant crust, built around the central fires, spinning towards the receding heavens. Men, declaring that she inspires them to do it, move joyfully over the surface, having the most delightful meetings with other men, happy not because they are masculine, but because they are alive. Before the show breaks up she would like to drop the august title of the Eternal Woman, and go there as her transitory self.’
– E.M. Forster, A Room With A View
to N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver
It’s gonna be a short one I’m afraid on account of being unplanned and I’ve been away for a while so let’s consider this a warm-up of sorts.
The day before yesterday, February 8th, was the birthday of one Neal Cassady, whose biography, by some kind of serendipity, I happened to be reading – else I would never have known.
Neal Cassady more a myth than anything. His star’s a kind of literary penumbra. In a previous post I mentioned how he was a figure who haunted. in the book, Aquarius Revisited, which I reviewed, he did not feature as one of the Seven who Created the Sixties Counter-Culture that Changed America but he haunts its pages as its muse and hero, one whose energy was so great he was the star of the show even when given a cameo role.
the search for god / invention of a woman (fragments)
‘I do not think I am looking for a man, but for a God. I am beginning to feel a void which must be the absence of God. I have called for a father, a guide, a leader, a protector, a friend, a lover, but I still miss something; it must be God. But I want a God in the flesh, not an abstraction, an incarnated God with strength, two arms, and a sex.’ (p. 261)