So you can read my books

Saturday, September 21, 2019


I am William Faulkner. I am dead.

Yet I did not die.

I, like so many who did not believe in an afterlife,

live here in the jazz club, Meilori’s.

Meilori’s :

the center, the focus, the hub; sitting looming in the center of the French Quarter’s circumference like a single cloud in its ring of horizon,

laying its vast shadow to the uttermost rim of horizon; musing, brooding, symbolic and imponderable, tall as clouds, solid as rock,

dominating all: protector of the weak, judge and curb of the passions and lusts, repository and guardian of the aspirations and hopes of the helpless.

Here, I find myself standing outside the window of the storefront of humanity, still observing as a writer but unable to reach out and touch with fingers of new prose.

Except through Roland’s kindness.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained that by now we can almost bear it. Of course there are still problems of the spirit. Yet one question looms above all:

When will I be harshly killed?

By terrorist plot,

by Nature’s increasingly hostile hand,

or by the cruel strangulation of mishandled economics.

Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing

because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat of wresting something from nothing.

You must learn them again.

You must teach yourself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.

And teaching yourself that,

forget it forever,

leaving no room in your writing for anything but the old truths of the heart,

the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

Until you do so, you labor under a curse.

You write not of love but of lust,

of defeats in which no one loses anything of value,

of victories without hope and,

worst of all, without pity or compassion. Your griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars.

You write not of the heart but of the sex glands.

I remember that night in Meilori’s when McCord and I talked.

How words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly living goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other.

That sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they have forgotten the words.

Forgotten the words by being too busy living them.

So write those words in your prose.

Write them so that others may prove their truth by living them,

And in so doing, forgetting them as they forget they are breathing.
*Photo 1954 by Carl Van Vechten

As the restrictions on this collection expired in 1986, the Library of Congress believes this image is in the public domain.

However, the Carl Van Vechten estate has asked that use of Van Vechten's photographs "preserve the integrity" of his work, i.e, that photographs not be colorized or cropped, and that proper credit is given to the photographer.

Such has been respectfully done. 


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