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An Overdue Response to the Ownership Question

In 20th c. Literature, Questions for the Panel on February 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Editor’s Note: This is the first post by industrial midwest exile and Sympathist extraordinaire, Brian Hill.  Clocking at at a relatively brief (by Sympathies standards) 860 words, Mr. Hill’s modest and wryly self-knowing style is a nice fit for the blog.

Brian Hill, Kyoto Japan

tower_3Happy for any dead or broken branch from any type of tree to prod at what appears, at first appraisal, to be the carcass of my literary consciousness, then cause it to stir, eventually to stand on numb legs with maw gaped in a yawn complete with fingernails scratching ass; happy as I am, I will try to pull something out of…well…I shall scribble down some thoughts.

I admit that I have no thesis but only the errant desire to own some authors.  I also admit that I have become very undisciplined with my reading, favoring collections of essays, short stories, poetry over any longer form; over any novel.  And then, I only pick and choose and then let it drop again.  Fortunately for me there exists Borges and Calvino.

Borges is someone that I would like to own.  Remembering my time in Toledo reading through Cognitive Psychology journals, a geology textbook, a biology textbook, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, etc. I would find myself distracted from my studies and begin furiously trying to capture some idea that had occurred to me.  So, that when I first started reading Borges I thought: “Here is a guy who took my idea and expanded it in ways I never dreamed.”  I would like to own him, but am too often intimidated by his erudition.

A lesser known author who I do own is Albert Goldbarth, a poet and essayist who I discovered some 16 f years ago.  A Sympathy of Souls, is a collection of creative essays touching on Jewish stories and parables, family, personal experience, humor and the Goldbarth wit.  His, Heaven and Earth, A Cosmology was my first introduction to him and remains a solid sample of his poetry that combines modern scientific ideas with…poetry.  He captivated me early on and has achieved ‘Can Do No Wrong’ status.  As a sample here is “One Continuous Substance”:

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