The Ends of Being and Books

Paved paradise, put up a parking lot - Joni Mitchell

Books had opened in childhood imaginations of other lives in which the idea of our own lives dwelling took on depths and heights, colors and figures, a new ground beyond self or personality in the idea of Man. But this prescribed thing was different, books became materials for examinations. English Literature with its reading lists, its established texts, its inquisitions, was to map our compulsory path in what had seemed before an open country. Work by work, author by author, the right roads were paved and marked, the important sights were emphasized, the civic improvements were pointed out where the human spirit had successfully been converted to serve the self-respect of civil men and the doubtful, impulsively created areas were deplored.

If we, in turn, could be taught to appreciate, to evaluate as we read and to cultivate our sensibilities in the ground of other men's passions, to taste and to regulate, to establish the new thing in the marketplace, we were to win some standing in the ranks of college graduates, and educated middle class, urbane and professional, as our parents had done before us.
Robert Duncan The H.D. Book "We" and "us" achieved too easily — all that paved territory of tradition was a wide vista for those of us from a different class — to be fair, Duncan may not be including the reader in that "us" but simply his classmates. Still the dichotomy rankles.

It is in the pluralism of men that I locate the quotidian work that opens up the micro-spaces of "doubtful, impulsively created areas". And I say "men" because that is where my desire tends. There is a hint there in Duncan "in the ground of other men's passions." Not in some idea of a capitalized Man.

And so for day 1927