What Light Can Do

Just a quote today, from the astonishing Robert Hass, whose essays in What Light Can Do has caused me to flag many many thought-provoking passages. This from “The Fury of Robinson Jeffers”:

“We have lived in catastrophic times. The redundancy of violence and suffering, the sheer immensity of the danger, always threatens to wither the imagination, to make us turn back to the purely personal, as if it were somehow more real because the mind can, at least, compass it, whereas the effort to think about the fate of the planet, about what man is that he has done to himself all the terrible things that he has in this century, comes to us mostly as dark and private musings.”

I think of the memoir craze and wonder if we hunger for personal stories because of this “immensity of danger” when we consider the world in broader focus. I think of confessional poetry and wonder the same thing. But I also think about the chilly LANGUAGE poetry and wonder if it is a kind of failure of courage. I’m not familiar with Jeffers’s poetry but I know he had a reputation for finding humanity lacking. Hard to argue.

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