Friday, September 20, 2002

During my last vacation in Kochi, Fobbin handed me a book by Michael Ondaatje which he liked very much--The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-handed Poems. I do not feel that my current fragmented state of mind is very suited to reading and so had not read a book through for quite a while. [Pierre Hadot wrote in Spiritual Exercises, 'Every era has to start this task afresh: learning to read and reread "old truths." We pass our lives in "reading,"... but we no longer know how to read, that is to stop, to free ourselves from our concerns, to return to ourselves, to leave aside our quest for subtlety and originality, to meditate calmly, to ruminate, to let the texts speak to us. It is a spiritual exercise, one of the most difficult: "People," said Goethe, "do not realize how much time and effort it takes to learn to read. It took me eighty years, and I am not even certain whether I have succeeded."'] But the fragmented style of Ondaatje's book seemed to vibe well with my mindscape and I found it an enjoyable browse-through.


From the book:
'while i've been going on
the blood from my wrist
has travelled to my heart
and my fingers touch
this soft blue paper notebook
control a pencil that shifts up and sideways
mapping my thinking going its own way'


'Jesus I never knew that did you
The nerves shot out
The liver running around out there
Like a headless hen jerking
Brown all over the yard
Seen that too at my aunt’s
never eaten hen since then'

On the book, from the web:
* The New York Times review from 1977
* Essay in the internet magazine it's a bunny
* A student's prize-winning essay

Laton A Huffman, whose photographs are used in the book.