Archive for March 18th, 2016

Mundane, beautiful, connected

March 18, 2016

John Updike had a lovely reply to the question Why write?

To condense from one’s memories and fantasies and small discoveries dark marks on paper which become handsomely reproducible many times over still seems to me […] a magical act, and a delightful technical process. To distribute oneself thus, as a kind of confetti shower falling upon the heads and shoulders of mankind out of bookstores and the pages of magazines is surely a great privilege and a defiance of the usual earthbound laws whereby human beings make themselves known to one another.

He “gave the mundane its beautiful due.”

George Plimpton, also born on this date, did too.

He was urbane and sophisticated, but like a lot of us he never gave up his little boy enthusiasm for the games of childhood. I met him in Cooperstown, just a couple of years before his death. He talked about how, from the earliest age, he’d been fascinated by the way a masterfully-thrown ball creates a connection between otherwise-discrete points in space. (Hence, Sidd Finch. The baseball conference, btw, is on April Fool’s Day again this year.)

Close observation of what it’s like to create new connections in space and time, to do that, to experience the doing of it, propelled his various amateur stints as a pretend-professional athlete. Hemingway admired his “dark side of the moon of Walter Mitty” performances (Out of My League, Paper Lion).

And then there’s Paris Review, which didn’t bother asking why to write but how. The distilled answer: when the words come, catch them. Connect.

7:00/6:54, 40/69

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