[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 114, Issue 9

Richard Pine pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
Sun Oct 9 07:00:30 PDT 2016

Ravi, no-one is comparing Trump and Durrell. But it might be interesting if
they did.

On Sun, Oct 9, 2016 at 8:20 AM, Ravi Nambiar <cnncravi at gmail.com> wrote:

> Truth and untruth! Durrell and Trump! I am sorry to say that we are
> insulting Durrell by comparing Trump with him, or Durrell with Trump. I
> doubt whether Trump has ever read a poem or a novel. True or false, like it
> or not, the truth is that there is enough of Americanism in Trump. That is
> why he gets followers. We enjoy *Alexandria Quartet* because there is
> Darley's or Justine's or Melissa's experience (at least partly) in each of
> us or some of us, the readers. That is the truth and this is what
> literature is expected to do. We don't have to count the number of times
> Darley slept with Melissa or Justine with the number of times Durrell slept
> with any woman, and thus discover truth. We don't enjoy the *Quintet* because
> we, as readers, may not have the experience of Affad, like his penetrating
> in Tantric style and then reflecting, or of his joyful acceptance of death.
> That is also truth.
> Ravi
> On Sun, Oct 9, 2016 at 12:30 AM, <ilds-request at lists.uvic.ca> wrote:
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>> Today's Topics:
>>    1. Re: Truth (Bruce Redwine)
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Message: 1
>> Date: Fri, 7 Oct 2016 11:16:23 -0700
>> From: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> To: Sumantra Nag <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>> Cc: Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
>> Subject: Re: [ilds] Truth
>> Message-ID: <4F29EE36-54FF-4771-B812-8E820C291170 at earthlink.net>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>> Here we differ.  I would say major parts of Durrell?s oeuvre are a
>> justification or advocacy of a way of life.  In their letters, Durrell and
>> Miller call themselves religious writers.  I don?t take this to mean
>> ?religious? in the sense of Milton?s to "justify the ways of God to men,?
>> rather ?religious" as a way of life.  Way as Tao.  (Remember, Durrell
>> called himself a Taoist.)  And what is religion if not a way of believing
>> and living?  As to self-deception, the self as ?selective fictions? speaks
>> for itself.
>> Bruce
>> > On Oct 6, 2016, at 11:45 PM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> > I don't think LD tried to justify anything, except the importance of
>> being a good writer. As for self-deception, it is part of the selected
>> fictions by which we all live, and I know nothing of amorality even though
>> I live amidst it and probably reek of it myself. If you believe that the
>> meek shall inherit the earth, you will believe anything. Hence Trump. His
>> candidacy is the prime example of a jeu that has gone terribly wrong (the
>> American jeu - not Trump's, since Trump's jeu is going terribly well)
>> > RP
>> >
>> > On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 3:42 AM, Bruce Redwine <
>> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>> > Richard, you?re right.  Let?s put this discussion in perspective.
>> Trump is a lying would-be politician who could do immense harm if elected,
>> whereas Durrell was a poet and storyteller who lied on occasion and harmed
>> no one (beyond close relations).  So there is no comparison in that sense.
>> I am bothered, however, by Durrell?s personal philosophy, so far as it
>> advocates or justifies a kind of amorality and self-deception.  That aspect
>> of his art and behavior seems to me false.  I am not prepared to say that I
>> admire him ?so long as he was a poet and told a good story.?  That is, no
>> matter what his faults I support him.  This debate stretches far back.
>> Plato doesn?t like poets and wants to ban them from his ideal state.
>> That?s absurd.  But Plato believed in truth, and I can see his concerns.
>> So let?s leave it at that.  All errors are mine, as writers like to say.
>> >
>> > Bruce
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >> On Oct 6, 2016, at 1:41 PM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
>> <mailto:pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> Let's stick with Trump. maybe, as President, he will follow Sarkozy's
>> lead and be photographed allegedly reading the Alexandria Quartet. If so,
>> his minders will have scored a major p r triumph and told one of the
>> biggest lies of his career. It is a fact (let's not call it a 'truth') that
>> Trump is within an ass's roar of the White House, even though he is a liar,
>> a cheat, a racist, a philanderer, a sexist, a draft-dodger, and an
>> appallingly bad businessman. Trump is a success because, altho he himself
>> is a fiction, people believe him: he is capitalising on  Kurt Schumacher?s
>> 1932 observation, that the best way to appeal to people?s anger is
>> ?ceaselessly mobilising human stupidity? That's an American truth. Canada
>> isn't much better with Truth-dough in power.
>> >> It doesn't matter to me one little bit that LD, who was almost never
>> in any degree powerful in that sense, told lies, bent the truth, borrowed
>> unashamedly from others' work, misrepresented his personal circumstances,
>> or was a sexist or philanderer SO LONG AS HE WAS A POET AND TOLD A GOOD
>> STORY. Trump matters because his credible story appeals to American
>> readership. Durrell doesn't matter because his story cannot hurt people.
>> >> He was absolutely right when he said we live lives based on selected
>> fictions. There are two kinds - those that are selected for us, and those
>> that we ourselves select. Almost all his work involves these two types of
>> fiction. And we respond to it because it tells us some 'truth' about
>> ourselves. Truth, if you pursue it long and hard enough, proves itself to
>> be a fiction.
>> >> RP
>> >>
>> >> On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 11:13 PM, Bruce Redwine <
>> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>> >> Truth matters.  And it particularly matters, as you point out, during
>> an election year in the U.S. when Mr. Donald J. Trump, presidential
>> candidate, is a habitual and egregious liar.  That fact may be a context
>> for this discussion.  It is one thing, as John Keats does, to get a
>> particular fact wrong, but quite another when Lawrence Durrell, who surely
>> knows his facts, prefers to indulge in ?selective fictions.?  White lies or
>> societal niceties, which we all commit, are no excuse for
>> misrepresentations of a higher order.  Durrell?s ?selective fictions?
>> licenses too much at times, particularly with reference to his art and
>> self-portrayal.  Relativity does not justify dishonesty.  I call plagiarism
>> an example of dishonesty?and there are many examples of that in Durrell?s
>> oeuvre, which we have discussed over the years.
>> >>
>> >> Re ?Le cercle referm?,? what would you call a last poem at the end of
>> a poet?s last work, one that recapitulates the poet?s life and describes a
>> final closing and ?last goodbye??  I?d call it a summa, autobiographical
>> closure.  To suggest that it?s fiction undercuts the poem?s poignancy.
>> Granted that the first two lines are a problem?Durrell was never in
>> Benares?but even that ?fiction? serves as an example of Durrell?s life.
>> So, I smile at that bit of ?selective fiction,? but I?ll give him that as
>> he leaves the stage.  Othello does the same thing at the end of
>> Shakespeare?s play.  His tale of the ?base Indian? who ?threw a pearl away?
>> distorts and misrepresents what he did to Desdemona.  Her horrible death is
>> draped in metaphors.  But the speech also illustrates a life full of
>> dazzling diction.  Othello?s speech is a beautiful artifact, and Durrell?s
>> final poem is equally beautiful, obscure and allusive, true to its maker.
>> >>
>> >> Bruce
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>> On Oct 6, 2016, at 12:16 AM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
>> <mailto:pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>> I have reached the point in life, in lying, in reading and writing
>> when "truth" has ceased to matter. Electing Trump (if it happens) will be a
>> lie, but it will also be a verifiable fact - i.e truth. Every day every one
>> of us tells lies, but they are societal lies, as in "Hello how are you?"
>> "Fine thanks. And you?" "Great". Not "Not so good, my wife just ran off
>> with my best friend and my son was jailed for selling cocaine". We obscure,
>> fudge, conceal, obfuscate so as to present an image.The best possible image
>> that society wants to see. The best possible story that the reader wants to
>> read.
>> >>> If I decline a dinner invitation on the grounds of too much work,
>> when in 'truth' I just don't want to spend an evening with that person and
>> their guests, am I telling a lie? And if so, a white lie, a black lie or a
>> grey lie? And so what?  It was a necessary lie in order to protect myself
>> against boredom.
>> >>> LD was in his personal life (if there was such a thing) a man
>> incapable - like all of us - of telling the truth. He was in search of
>> himself and he would tell any lies necessary, and push aside all
>> unnecessary truths, to get at that self. You say that PC may not be  'all
>> lies' - so which bits are not lies? And which bits that are 'truthful' are
>> really truthful, or just partially truthful? C'mon.
>> >>> How can any truth-oriented person read MFOA, knowing that it is one
>> monstrous lie but a damn good story? A principled reader will refuse to
>> read it. And the Bible. And the Sermon on the Mount (both Jesus's and
>> Caradoc's, although Caradoc's was more truthful)
>> >>> I share the LD view - that it just doesn't matter. And why do you
>> call 'Le cercle referme' an 'autobiographical poem'? What 'proof' have you
>> that it was intended as such? No, mere readerly, critical supposition. If I
>> said that, in calling it that, you were lying, you would, rightly, take
>> offence.
>> >>> Keats? He was a POET! but you excuse him because he was 'a bad
>> historian' - i.e., he can't be blamed because he didn't tell a lie, just he
>> didn't get the truth that historians would insist on. But if Durrell makes
>> the same mistake, deliberately, he is, apparently, to blame. A liar. Oh
>> dear, you must be a very virtuous person Bruce. And virtue is.....virtual
>> truth, not real truth. ha ha
>> >>> RP
>> >>>
>> >>> On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 12:11 AM, Bruce Redwine <
>> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net <mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>> wrote:
>> >>> Richard, I think we?re back to discussing Durrell?s notion of
>> ?Truth.?  (Which differs from mine.)  So we have another kind of ?le cercle
>> referm?.?  You?re undoubtedly right that Durrell was chiefly a poet and a
>> storyteller, but I have great trouble when he presents (disguises?) certain
>> works as ?fact? (e.g., Prospero?s Cell or his autobiographical poem, ?Le
>> cercle referm??) and then proceeds to embellish and distort.  Was he aware
>> of what he was doing?  Dunno.  If he was aware, isn?t that the definition
>> of lying?  Does it matter?  Maybe not to many people but to me it does.  In
>> Haag?s City of Memory, Yvette Cohen said (more than less) that Durrell
>> couldn?t be trusted to report accurately.  At the Durrell Celebration in
>> Alexandria (2007), Penelope Durrell Hope said her mother called PC ?all
>> lies.?  It surely wasn?t ?all lies,? but I think a whole lot of fibbing was
>> going on, presumably in the interest of telling a ?good story.?  Yes, if
>> Durrell knew there was no fortress!
>>   at Kurseong but claimed there was, yes, I would object and wonder just
>> what he was up to.  Keats can get ?stout Cortez? wrong in ?Chapman?s
>> Homer,? but no one accuses him of lying.  Keats was simply a bad
>> historian.  Durrell?s ?errors,? if such, are something else again.
>> >>>
>> >>> Bruce
>> >>>
>> >
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