toward and not away from...

… one paradox of originality: the willingness to become transparent, to offer oneself to the Other, whether in the world of things or of art, leads toward rather than away from individuality of expression. The originality born of imitation also makes clear how often individuality reveals itself in the passionate details rather than in larger artistic ambitions. There are relatively few essential themes in human life, yet their exploration is endless. Small differences not only matter, they are the mark of a particularized occupancy of self and world.

         – from Nine Gates, Jane Hirshfield


I think what I admire most in Hirshfield’s writing, in any form, is not that it’s the work of genius – though it certainly is – and not that it’s true in the most universal sense of the word – and it is – but that the writing connects with me in every way.

Odysseus, after the war, forever a changed man, moves island to island to island on his way to Ithaca. And you – traveling today to the store, the library, the post office – will move light to light to light and the I-forgot-I-had-to-stop-here and here and here – until you’re back at your door. Also changed. As for me – I somehow move Hirshfield piece to piece to piece. And here I am. Again.


gemellen said...

nine gates is one of my desert island books. love. it.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

It's a great choice, G. Thanks for the read.