“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare …

Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power? What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered? Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking. … We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.

[ … ]

At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your fists, your back, your brain, and then – and only then -it is handed to you. From the corner of your eye you see motion. Something is moving through the air and headed your way. It is a parcel bound in ribbons and bows; it has two white wings. It flies directly at you; you can read your name on it. If it were a baseball, you would hit it out of the park. It is that one pitch in a thousand you see in slow motion; its wings beat slowly as a hawk’s.

– Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop,”  a NY Times Books May 1989 article. Also from The Writing Life

Posted in parallel with Weekend Words: The Day the World Went Away – Vol. 16. This weekend’s volume features work by Cayman Thorn and C.K. Hope, who have generously opened their hearts–“beauty laid bare”–just for us. Their grace is anything but unmerited, and I am honored to stand with you in their light. 

2 thoughts on ““Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare …

    1. I want to buy shaker-gourds and give them to all my friends along with Annie’s book (with this passage highlighted).

      Hope you liked the weekend post too. It’s my new favorite. Bewildered is a good word!


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