Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Fellowship

I have just finished the Zaleski book, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, and find that I have a feeling of intense nostalgia for something I never had and never could have: the camaraderie of young men together, with no women about, talking about art and philosophy and aspirations; the ability to go off on great, indulgent walking trips without the least notice to family as to what I am about; the ignoring of laundry and such in favor of pub and talk and good beer whenever I like; and the hearty support and encouragement and combativeness and rousing animal spirits of a set of companions wild to make stories and poems and write books of all sorts.

How marvelous to live in a small country and meet and spend a lifetime with like-minded people so that you know them intimately and care about them and their accomplishments. Living in a snowy, remote village, I don't have companions who are writers, though I have lunch frequently with two serious painters in order to get my fix of the idea that there are still people in the world who are dead serious (although with a sense of humor) about making things of beauty and rejoice in that work. And, of course, I have my e-acquaintances, many of whom write or are enthusiastic readers.

Still, I feel that strange nostalgia.... But now I go off to fold some laundry and maybe do a little revision before I go to sleep.

9 comments:

  1. This is something I have a strong desire to read, Marly.
    The difference I notice when in male-only company is that fiery debates and disagreements are completely set aside when the brandy is brought out. Disagreements are usually not disastrous and there are no petticoats to concern oneself about!
    I am sure that many women are able to do this when in female-only company too!

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    1. Certainly many of them loved to debate and argue--and were trained up to it as well.

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  2. One day, when your husband retires, if that is possible, you ought to move to somewhere where you can hang out with other writers.
    It's a wonderful thing.

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    1. In the meantime, I hang with the painters, which is also stimulating....

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    2. Although I have lived in places with writers (Chapel Hill and the Triangle, generally), I think these had something that is very, very rare.

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  3. Yes, there's something of the riverside sociability of the Wind in the Willows about that group: at once appealing and not quite grown-up.

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    1. Oh, Dale, that is so exactly right. Precisely. And there's even the Piper at the gates of dawn for religion and transcendence. Ratty and Mole: Lewis and Tolkien.

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  4. Journalism which may seem like cold porridge when compared with these asexual coteries, usually Oxbridge-centred, nevertheless brings together artisans whose salaried task consists of stringing together selections from an admittedly limited vocabulary in the service of clarity. After all a muzzy villanelle can be tolerated but an ill-constructed article on Amazon's conveyor-based distribution system is no good for man nor beast.

    And years spent "stringing together" within the structure of language, however humble the level, can have unforeseen effects. Aspirations grow, if only to be dashed, but damnit an aspiration is an aspiration. Journalists, restricted by awkward working hours, foregather in pubs to pursue the only hobby available to them - getting smashed. But also to talk fondly about their common coinage. The clever and concise headline (Nut bolts, screws washer), the arresting intro (Arguments for and against synthetic fertiliser broke out at Thursday's meeting of the Eldwick and Gilstead Horticultural Society...), childish glee at including "rebarbative" in a report and seeing it escape the sub-editor's blue pencil.

    Journalism is third from bottom in the list of socially acceptable jobs (vs. estate agents and keepers of houses of ill-repute.) and most journalists would agree. Women who are willing to pay their round are welcome at those self-destructive pub forums. True there are no healthful long walks and many will die from ailments that are both sordid and preventable. Worth is left unexamined. Perversity is enough.

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    1. Tolerate not the muzzy villanelle! Offend not the muse! XD

      One of my favorite professor-writer-critics started as a journalist and spent years in the trade before founding the writing program at Hollins College and then gaining a named chair at the University of North Carolina. He published many books and mentored many young writers and founded Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill to help Southern writers. He once saved my neck when I was in a financial pickle, and he took my first poetry ms. and gave it to LSU Press. The great Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Requiescat in pace. No argument against the aspirations of journalists here!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.