Monday, December 17, 2007

East Coker

December 15th, 2007

The first of the Quartets written and published in wartime contains what seems to be the heart of the matter in the fourth section: “The dripping blood our only drink/ the bloody flesh our only food:/ In spite of which we like to think/ That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood--/ Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.” But it is his return to the challenge of finding words to express the inexpressible and the wonderful phrase “ a raid on the inarticulate” that grabs me most this year.

We have enjoyed a visit from the English priest and columnist for The Guardian and The Church Times in the past week. One point that he made is that columnist cannot do ‘Anglican fudge’ but must take clear positions or no one will want to read what he says and the debate will not be moved forward. The cost of that is some pretty ugly stuff in the blogosphere.

Alan Bennett also reflects on what it takes to be a writer in his most enjoyable novella, The Uncommon Reader (Farrar Straus Giroux 2007) “You don’t put your life into books. You find it there.” (p.101) Writing becomes bearing witness and a witness will quickly become the focus of attention, that off which others bounce as they discover what it is that they think and believe. Not an easy place to be.

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