Third draft and it’s just short of a rewrite. Reading the second draft, I found it just doesn’t taste right. Amazing how self-censorship and outside influence can creep in even when you’re trying to avoid both.
Anyway – a few bits of text I found recently and good to think with in my efforts to finish my humble scribbles.
In Plato’s ‘Symposium’ the wise woman ‘Diotima’ explains to Socrates how the initiate of Eros, in the end, ‘turns to the open sea of Beauty’.
Roughly two thousand years later in a letter to a friend, Thomas Mann writes,
The artistic reason lies in the difference between the Dionysian spirit of lyric poetry as it is individualistically and irresponsibly pours itself out, and the Apolline spirit of epic narrative with its objective commitment and its moral responsibilities to society. What I was trying to achieve was an equilibrium of sensuality and morality, such as I found ideally realised in Goethe’s novel ‘The Elective Affinities,’ which, if I remember rightly, I read five times while I was writing ‘Death in Venice’.
Much later in a lecture given at Princeton University Mann, seemingly still tortured by his most famous novel, describes ‘Death in Venice’ as,
— a strange sort of moral self-castigation by means of a book which itself, with intentional irony, displays in its manner and style that very stance of dignity and mastery which is denounced in it as spurious and foolish.
Bukowski giving advise to writers… Do it like you shit – the stench of it will be uniquely yours.