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31 May 2014

Branch and book

There is more truth and beauty
from a single branch
from a single tree
in my garden
than from any book
from my library.

For the books
in my library
are the byproducts,
the dried, withered corpses
of the murdered brothers
of my trees.

The only thing immortal
on the book page
is the idea,
which exists outside
the book, in
the land of eternity.

The idea and the tree branch.
The former is eternal
intellectual beauty
while the latter
is the eternal
beauty of existence.

R. R. Shea

28 May 2014

a blog update

Greetings, friends. 

If you haven't yet noticed, I have been having a particularly bad year this year with the death of my mother.  Unfortunately, things aren't about to get any easier.  A few weeks back, I was diagnosed with cancer.  I plan to fight, and I plan to win.  But this is going to take a lot of my energy.  I start chemo tomorrow, and I've already shaved my head in preparation. 

I will still be trying to keep up with the read-alongs I've agreed to do with other people, but perhaps not all of my own.  Despite this misfortune, I am an incredibly lucky man.  I have a wife with whom I have been married for over twelve years and a little daughter who has completely changed my world.  They are the reason I fight.  They are the reason I'm going to triumph.  My closest friends have been wonderful in their support, as has my family.

I might start to blog more about my health and perhaps how I am using literature to get me through.

To you all, every good thing.  This is only the start of the journey.

Love and peace,

Richard Shea

14 May 2014

The Mariner

He piles the seashells in his bucket,
the waves crash in,
and he collects the songs and laughter
from the boardwalk,
locking everything
in his mariner's heart

His lighthouse eyes
allow the lost ships
to smash against the rocks
and sink into the depths
of his imagination

The mariner on the sand,
bucket full,
day ending,
waiting for morning once again.

He smells the salt spray
and the feces of
myriad birds

and the sweet aroma of little stands
nearby vending snacks and candy

and he piles still more shells.

08 May 2014

Reading Josep Pla

From Josep Pla's The Gray Notebook (El Quadern Gris):

“It is dinnertime. The clatter of plates, knives, and forks reaches as far as the street. The southwesterly wind continues to blow damp and indifferent over everything. The smell of pine resin melds with the aroma of roast chicken. Stretched out on the beach next to their empty pot, half asleep, the country folk gaze up at misty stars, which passing clouds hide for a moment.
The dance begins late.”

Descriptions like this pepper almost every page, and Pla's work is an excelllent example to all young (and not so young) writers of the way in which an author can hone style and language. Pla brings Early 20th century Catalonia to life, showing himself to be as astute when talking about regular people as he is when describing a meal or a dance. Here, he is talking with the fishermen:

'“It's bad to say the war is coming to an end?”
“Yes, wars produce fish.”
“Hey, come on.”
“I'm telling you. The voice of experience […] fish like noise, buzz, canon fire, flotsam.”
Sometimes contact with humanity can be depressing.
Hermos said this with eyes that saddened me. His eyes believed what he was saying. My depression deepened.'

Near the end, Pla begins to discuss the work of a contemporary from France, a strange young man by the name of Marcel Proust. Worth the read.