Sunday, November 06, 2005

letters to a young blogger?

A couple of weeks ago a teenager new to blogging wrote me the following comment:
hi

i was just reading ure blog. its actually the first ive ever read!!
just wondering what sorta stuff u can put on blogs.

thanks....
I guess I could have said something cheeky like "capital letters and correct spelling wouldn't hurt" - but I tried my best to be sincere and supportive, and you can read what I came up with here. I've just been reading Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, though, and if anyone were to ask me again, I don't think I could do better than simply to quote him:
...write about what your daily life offers you: describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty -- describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world's sounds -- wouldn't you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twililght, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance...
Okay, I guess that would be a little much to aspire to. Still, it would be nice to think that this age of e-mail and blogging will call forth a few great poets, and cause the rest of us to expand our own solitudes a little bit as well! I think that even our most humble attempts to express our experience in language and sound can elevate its meaning - as Rilke says earlier in that first letter:
Things aren't all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.
It amazes me that Rilke was only 27 when he wrote this, to a 19-year-old student named Franz Xaver Kappus. I suppose you take wisdom where you can find it, and Rilke had a great deal to offer in these letters.

1 comment:

Lydia Si-Ngaw Lui said...

I love what RMR writes. I think it is very true that if you can't find any beauty in the world you are in (a.k.a. your life), most likely it's because you are so busy noticing the things that are ugly. It's amazing how much the perspective can change one's outlook on the world.

I think the comment from the teenager, however, disturbs me because this kid is somehow going to enter the workforce with a rather subpar handle on the English language. It's good to know that the schools (and the parents) are doing such a good job educating the youth of our society...