The Table of Contents of David Markson’s copy of Literary Essays by Ezra Pound:
On which Markson placed dashes next to four essays:
1) “Arnaud Daniel”
3) “Notes on Elizabethan Classicists”
4) “Translators of Greek: Early Translators of Homer”
One of those essays, “Notes on Elizabethan Classicists,” ends with a line in which Pound says:
“That editors, publishers, and universities loathe the inquisitive spirit.” (Pg. 248).
When reading Markson’s tetralogy, I find that society as a whole seems to loathe the inquisitive spirit, the artistic spirit, the creative spirit and the intellectual spirit.
It is as though society thinks the same as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who, as Markson explains in his The Last Novel, asserted:
“A cobbler makes a greater contribution to society than does a Homer or a Plato.” (Pg. 106).
Interestingly, elsewhere in Markson’s tetralogy we again hear about cobblers and artists:
“She wouldn’t care a straw whether her husband was an artist or a cobbler, said Haydn of his wife.
Whom he also called an infernal beast.” (Pg. 36 of Vanishing Point).
I apologize to cobblers everywhere, for their profession having been apparently chosen to represent the opposite of artistic and intellectual endeavors, but if I am allowed to continue with those poles—cobbler vs. artist—may I ask how does a cobbler contribute to society more?
Admittedly, I love the comfort of shoes, but I’d go my whole life without any shoes before I’d go my whole life without any art.
Shoes may keep your feet warm and clean and comfortable, but art does so much more:
“For art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments’ sake.”
Which is a quote from Markson’s Vanishing Point. On pg. 54.
And which Markson borrowed/stole from Walter Pater.
I would gladly go shoeless, if a choice had to be made…
But wait…how did I get from Pound essays to shoeless?
Reader (of Markson Reading) often finds himself confused as to his own thought processes, and how one thing trails to another with seemingly the most tenuous of connections…
But then discovering often greater connections in the trajectory of the movement.
Always coming back around, and focusing on some key themes and ideas.
Has he read too much Markson?
Is he attempting, if admittedly failing in the task, to emulate him in some way?
Regardless, now I’m shoeless…
Granted, Reader (of Markson Reading) is essentially the I in instances such as that.
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson.