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Entries in #carolemaso (1)

Thursday
Feb132014

Loyalty: Carole Maso

Thanks to Melissa Sipin for drawing my attention to this.

"For a long time I had wanted a child, but the desire, attenuated, had passed, and other feelings had taken its place. I had become so entranced by the utterly hypnotic path I found myself on, so bleary, so consumed by my work, that I had lost track of whatever else I may have once wanted. I had wandered away into a kind of otherworldly bliss, a joy like no other, and the child further and further off on some remote horizon had become a shadow—like almost everything else in my world. From those weird, windy, solitary heights from which I worked now I watched the child wave, wave, and then finally vanish. Disappeared on a beautiful, curving planet—utterly out of reach. A distant, infinitesimal music.

"The Bay of Angels, a book I had just begun composing after ten years of note-taking, was to be the project for the rest of my life; I was quite certain of it—and the prospect of a life of such possibility and pleasure and challenge was more than I had ever dared ask or hope for. Over the years it had slowly grown in me—each book I had written was preparation for it. Time was passing and the urgency, as Stein said, "to write something down someday in my own handwriting" was pressing. The chance to get closer to the eternity in myself. I was ready at last. It was clear to me that in order to even attempt such an endeavor more sacrifices would have to be made. But they were well worth it—had always been worth it. The accompanying melancholy was just part of the bargain, the demands such work makes, the tolls it takes, simply part of the deal. I thought of Beckett's "sadness after song." Sadness because it was so imperfect and inadequate and fleeting, because it demanded absolutely everything. I watched the child recede.

"With every major decision there is regret, for the very act involves choosing one thing over another. I have always experienced a certain sorrow when any project I am working on begins to take a shape and becomes a stable, definitive text—because it excludes the thousand books it might have been. No matter how spacious, no matter how suggestive or fluid, I cannot help but feel the death of possibility all over again—the books that now would never be. I have never felt completely reconciled to that fact. This and not that.

"The sadness after song. I would not mind. If song it was I got to sing.

"How then to account for the wave of clarity that passed through me, propelling me into an utterly charmed and charged night to retrieve that little waving figure who was mine? The child I had spent years writing about in my Bay of Angels notebooks. When I look back I see that she is there in one way or another in many, many guises. My writing life, as always, so much further ahead of my conscious, rational mind. How had I been so blind? There she was at the periphery of every page, waiting, begging at the edge of language, calling my name. But I did not, could not recognize her—until it was very nearly too late."

From The Room Lit by Roses, 2000