What thoughts and whose ideas have a value?
Lia bought 20 Lines a Day by Harry Mathews recently. Stendhal had commented that “20 lines a day, genius or not, was a good place to start”. I was deeply impressed by Scarlet and Black when I first read it perhaps 40 years ago. A conversation with Gerry Hanley in the bar of the Delgany Inn elucidated from him that Stendhal got him writing with those same words. I had only just finished reading Scarlet and Black and was quite surprised at the coincidence, his bringing Stendhal up over a pint, my knowing who he was talking about. But I didn’t write 20 lines a day. Maybe that was a good thing?
AN Whitehead wrote “seek simplicity and distrust it”, a quote I found when seeking to verify another I recalled: “A man really writes for an audience of about 10 persons. Of course, if others like it, that is clear gain. But if those 10 are satisfied, he is content.” Perhaps that is how I should approach my dilemmas of publishing/sharing my photographs. And journals likes this – could there be ten readers?
But in thinking about seeking simplicity and distrusting it, I remembered a lecture we attended last year in UCD by Judith Butler. She summarised some of Sigmund Freud’s views that today, in the Covid-19 crisis, seem relevant. The erosion of trust that leads to embitterment. The anthropomorphism of sovereignty. Collective psychosis arising out of a sentiment of solidarity. Reflexive destruction together with the narcissism, transience and loss of humility that drives it.
And so I’m trying to follow the good advice of Mathews and Stendhal at the rate of 20 lines a day for a year. Sorry.
And here’s the very interesting read from Tim Harford regarding wishful thinking that probably put me onto the themes of simplicity and distrust.