more quotes from snow…i know you can’t get enough…
on a poem ka writes during a major political upheaval in the city (artistic excuses!):
one of its important ideas was the poet’s ability to shut off part of his mind even while the world is in turmoil. if this meant that a poet had no more connection to the present than a ghost did, such was the price a poet had to pay for his art!
on being a poet and believing (or not believing) in God. a student speaking to the poet, ka:
you could hear God inside you, and you were trying to forget him. you could see that the world was one, but you thought that if you could close your eyes to this vision, you could be more unhappy and also more intelligent. and you were right. only people who are very intelligent and very unhappy can write good poems. so you heroically undertook to endure the pains of faithlessness, just to be able to write good poems. but you didn’t realize then that when you lost that voice inside you, you’d end up all all alone in an empty universe.
ka is speaking here to a woman he loves and is afraid to love:
the issue is the same for all real poets. if you’ve been happy too long, you become banal. by the same token, if you’ve been unhappy for a long time, you lose your poetic powers…happiness and poetry can only coexist for the briefest time. afterward either happiness coarsens the poet or the poem is so true it destroys his happiness.
i’m still thinking about all of these but i think that in the case of both God and happiness, that brilliant art can be created through empathy, awareness of the suffering of others. sometimes though, an artist is so selfish (a side effect of being so shrouded in their own giftedness) that it does seem that he or she can only tap into their truest art forms for the sake of his or her own suffering. which is where a separation from God (and others) comes in handy, since it is most certainly the greatest suffering i can imagine. this theme runs throughout the book and is a whole discussion unto itself, without even adding the geographical or political setting of the book.
much to ponder.
and one more…
when the poet describes this man who peppers all his sentences with obscenities, he says,
it didn’t matter what he was saying; he could be making a threat or pontificating about national interests or expounding his highly unoriginal political views. he was like a child who can’t eat his supper unless it’s swimming in ketchup.
isn’t that a brilliant description? i just love it.