If you can write my favorite book on Rilke then I’m all ears for other things you have to say. The first chapter in this made me laugh out loud a few times, which isn’t something you’d expect when the subject is the praise of the classics. It’s a nice alternative to the Blooms. The classics are just one giant Bible to me. A religion of books that “disagree” with each other.

After the classics, this is easy to do with ordinary, real-life people

Henry James once said, in his snobbiest manner, “I see all round Flaubert.”

Tempts and attempts are being made to isolate the essence of a classic. This one isn’t so bad

it is permanent member of the avant-garde

Again, this is a novelist writing nonfiction here. That mix tends to produce more entertaining results than average.

Did you know that Harold Bloom wrote a novel that he probably doesn’t want you to know about? He disowned it. Finally, we can laugh at HIS expense instead. I like to take stabs at him because the classics are a chain of initiation in their own right–possibly thee chain of initiation–and I perceive him as corrupting it as much as he strengthened it. That’s why it’s necessary to read other erudite maniacs alongside him to get a more well-rounded picture.

Permanently avant-garde–THAT’s an intimidating ideal to shoot for.

I don’t think our culture inculcates such an ideal. Wherein lies the danger, grows also the saving power- the classics ARE part of our culture, and they do seem to do that. I doubt if you are looking for social justice in them you will find that ideal there.

Beckett… is as devoted to his ideals as a Shaker and thinks most things frivolous, or decorative, or vain.

It’s too bad so many miss out on admiring people like Beckett to the utmost because of their trained resistance to “the Great Man Theory of History”. The indifference they’re taught is subtle, and it’s akin to an atheism, or at least a hatred of saints.

Look how Colette is described (I kept trying to warn you)

Observant not as a god is, but as an adolescent looking on love, and later like a whore looking on lovelessness and age. Semiautobiographical the way one is semidressed. Never breathless as a schoolgirl, though, or like this prose, disjointed, but long and slow and generous and fine as the line of the leg.

Maybe you think I killed you. Are you sure you didn’t kill yourself?

I only hold a mirror up to women, jews, all the rest. Only shadows of people they are. And they have freewill, so it’s what they choose. I always sense nauseous ghosts floating around my page. If you make a deal with the devil you pay the price, and those around you will pay too.

Anyway do you think ZOG is writing a “classic” with our society?

I think it’s a classic tale of cowards, does that count? A classic tale set in a graveyard of nauseous ghosts who incoherently wail from time to time.

The Jew in you had to be killed, I just didn’t know there was no difference between you and the Jew.

I’m sick of the war, I just want the dead on the battlefield to be reborn as purer people.

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