Rilke on Solitude

16 July 1903

‘But everything which will one day perhaps be possible for many, the solitary individual can prepare for and build now with his hands which are more unerring. For this reason… love your solitude and bear the pain it causes you with melody wrought with lament.

For the people who are close to you, you tell me, are far away, and that shows the space around you is wide indeed and already among the stars; take pleasure in your growth, in which no one can accompany you, and be kind-hearted toward those you leave behind, and be assured and gentle with them and do not plague them with your doubts or frighten them with your confidence or your joyfulness, which they cannot understand.

Look for some kind of simple and loyal way of being together with them which does not necessarily have to alter however much you may change; love in them a form of life different from your own…

Ask no advice of them and reckon with no understanding; but believe in a love which is stored up for you like an inheritance, and trust that in this love there is a strength and a benediction out of whose sphere you do not need to issue even if your journey is a long one.’

 

23 December 1903

‘To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours – that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn’t understand a thing about what they were doing.

And when you realise that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude, which is itself work and achievement and vocation?

Why should you want to give up a child’s wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.’

– Letters to a Young Poet

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Rilke on Art/life

One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read:

‘Works of art are infinitely solitary and nothing is less likely to reach them than criticism. Only love can grasp them and hold them and do them justice.

– With regard to any such disquisition, review or introduction, trust yourself and your instincts; even if you go wrong in your judgement, the natural growth of your inner life will gradually, over time, lead you to other insights.

Allow your verdicts their own quiet untroubled development which like all progress must come from deep within and cannot be forced or accelerated. Everything must be carried to term before it is born. To let every impression and the germ of every feeling come to completion inside, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, in what is unattainable to one’s own intellect, and to wait with deep humility and patience for the hour when a new clarity is delivered: that alone is to live as an artist, in the understanding and in one’s creative work.

These things cannot be measured by time, a year has no meaning, and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come.

But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.’

– Letters to A Young Poet

August

I was walking, when I felt something behind me,

or prickling within me,

it doesn’t really matter how it’s dressed up.

 

But a contradiction lies here.

We must address our shortcomings,

our tensions,

and broken hearts –

to be better,

somewhere

where worse doesn’t exist.

 

You’ll start so sure in your elevator pitch,

before realising the images are transparent.

 

Oddly though,  they’re no less important

– I think that’s worth trying, to never forget.

 

So having said that,

I’ll leave you with this.

 

The love in:

a candle’s soft glow,

a blanket of silence,

and hugging one’s knees,

 

Our tears for no one,

and then, a surrender.

to Yourself. and Them, and This,

to God,

or Love,

 

and then –

there’s nothing else.

A letter from John Steinbeck to his son

New York
November 10, 1958

‘Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa’

on capturing Truth

‘Words do not express thoughts very well; everything immediately becomes a little different, a little distorted, a little foolish.’

– Herman Hesse

‘We are now so far from the road to truth, that religious teachers dispute and hate each other, and speculative men are esteemed unsound and frivolous. But to a sound judgment, the most abstract truth is the most practical. Whenever a true theory appears, it will be its own evidence. Its test is, that it will explain all phenomena.’

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday evening thoughts

In this moment I sit. In the same way that we all sit, the way they all once sat; in a moment, of the time omnisciently hovering around earth.

How’s that bound? Visit that space, you might see God.

The gap, too. Between breath where by at least a few accounts, you’re not really alive but flickering in and out of actuality.

The infinitude of that.

Infinitude in general.

Ah shit, I’m being side-tracked. In this place of realising all this, I feel a strong obligation to answer; what will I do here, now?