I took the morning to read and think and sit on the patio of a corner café, and I started Charles Simic’s essay collection, The Life of Images. I’ve always found Simic to be a comforting, solid thinker who takes his time representing emotion. I’ve been having trouble slowing down in my own writing lately. I’ve been taking shortcuts. Reading loose prose has made me slacken. When emotion arises as I write, I want to once again push myself to feel out its spaces and allow images to concretize before I rush on to the next line. Simic, of course, does this impressively in this collection. Here’s an excerpt on solitude and philosophy.
Wallace Stevens has several beautiful poems about solitary readers. “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm” is one. It speaks of a “truth in a calm world.” It happens! The world and the mind growing so calm that truth becomes visible.
It must be late at night “when shines the light that lets be the things that are”—the light of insomnia. The solitude of the reader of philosophy and the solitude of the philosopher drawing together. The impression that one is thinking and anticipating another man’s subtlest turns of thought and beginning to truly understand.
Understanding depends on the relationship of what we are to what we have been: the being of the moment. Consciousness stirring up our conscience, our history. Consciousness as the light of clarity and history as the dark night of the soul.