Wednesday 17 September 2008

The space inside

Yellow Sunflower and Red Poppies
Emil Nolde, 1920

"I see the burning quality of Nolde's intention... The space inside me enlarges. That rectangle of light and air inside, where thought clarifies and language grows and response is made intelligent, that famous space surrounded by loneliness, anxiety, self-pity, it opens wide as I look at Nolde's flowers.

...That space. It begins in the middle of my forehead and ends in the middle of my groin. it is, variously, as wide as my body, as narrow as a slit in a fortress wall. On days when thought flows freely or better yet clarifies with effort, it expands gloriously. On days when anxiety and self-pity crowd in, it shrinks, how fast it shrinks! When the space is wide and I occupy it fully, I taste the air, feel the light. I breathe evenly and slowly. I am peaceful and excited, beyond influence or threat. Nothing can touch me. I'm safe. I'm free. "
From Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick.
She* it was who sent me to Loren Eiseley. Not surprising she's a fan of his writing. They have in common an incredible ability to convey
what it feels like to be them, and therefore to expand the reader's apprehension of what it feels like to be me (the space inside us also enlarges). Perhaps too great an ability for their own good ("that famous space surrounded by loneliness, anxiety, self-pity"), but my goodness it makes them wonderful writers.

*and Litlove who sent me to Vivian Gornick

1 comment:

litlove said...

And I've just ordered the Loren Eiseley book you mentioned. Ah the chains of art - following them is such a pleasure. I'm looking forward so much to the Eiseley which by all accounts is masterful.