Thursday, 18 July 2013

9 - O'Connor/Carroll/Swift

Short story
Frank O’Connor (1903-66), Guests of the Nation. Okay, this is the first one that has made me cry. It’s about two Englishmen in Ireland, and I assume it’s during WWII. They’re captives, and they make friends with their captors, but when four Irish prisoners are shot by the English, there’s a call for a reprisal. God, I hate wars! And I also hate this sense of duty that people have, that lets them do just about anything they like, and as long as they can say they’re just doing their duty, they convince themselves it’s just fine to act like barbarians.

So, to something much lighter. Lewis Carroll, Father William from Alice in Wonderland. This is one of the most delightful poems ever written, and I just love it. 1st stanza:
‘You are old, Father William,’ the young man said,
‘And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head

Do you think, at your age, it is right?’
Yep. It’s right. If you can do it, do it.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Hints Towards an Essay on Conversation. There’s a lot I recognise here, and nothing much has changed really. There is still the person who hogs the conversation, still the one who says so little it kills the conversation, still the foul-mouthed, still those who talk only of themselves as if they believe they are the centre of the universe, and still the jokers who turn all talk into jests that kill all meaningful conversation. I could see references in this 300-year-old-essay to Facebook!! A very well written essay that obviously captures our humanity, which is not limited to any particular place or time.


I’ve had a commission to write non-fiction articles today and tomorrow, and I’ve also had a couple of editing jobs come in, so no fiction done today. One of the real drawbacks of writing for a living is that it kills the desire to write any more after work. I should get up earlier and write fiction first. Or maybe find a way of making a living outside of writing or editing, so I keep fresh for fiction/poetry etc., and don’t have the feeling that the last thing I want to do is turn on a computer. (I guess this is why I do most of my first drafts on paper, writing with a fountain pen.)

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