Rainer Maria Rilke and A Regrettable Abundance of Consonants

You know how they say that the hardest thing about blogging is what to say when you come back after a long absence? Well, I just tried to refute that theory by staring at the screen for the past twenty minutes, trying to come up with a properly chatty intro. So okay, perhaps it's not the most difficult thing about blogging (that title should probably go to updating regularly, i.e. the thing that brought us here in the first place), but it's up there. Top three or so. 

So lacking a properly chatty intro, I then thought I should tell you about why we were gone for so long. And I wish we had a good reason, but the truth is that when it's been a while since you blogged, it's going to be a while longer. Once it gets going, not-blogging is mostly a self-sustaining process. (At least in our experience it is.) So there was that, and also the fact that I started to really resent our name/URL and its entirely-too-many consonants awkwardly broken by I's. I'd been meh about it for a while, but about a month ago it finally got to the point where I decided we need a new name if we're ever to start blogging again. Cue brainstorming. Cue almost naming our blog "A Different Kind of Failure" for a. the T.S Eliot reference and b. the ability to utter endless variations of "During the day I write for my thesis. In the evenings I write for A Different Kind of Failure." In the end, we did find what we think is a good name (although my heart will always be with A Different Kind of Failure). We're going to have to be Lit. Hitchhiker for a while longer, as I figure out the logistics of transferring to a new domain, but after that, it's shiny new name time! 

And in order not to make this a purely State of the Blog kind of post, I decided to also share a poem I've been fairly obsessed with for... uh, 6 months now, give or take? Just in case you don't know it (and are ready to be punched in the gut by its brilliance) and also because I really wanted to have it somewhere on the blog. It's Rilke's Archaic Torso of Apollo, in the translation of Stephen Mitchell. Fretting about translations and where they differ is one of my favorite pastimes, but in this case I'll just go with the first version of this poem I read. I feel a sort of weird loyalty towards it for being the one that first made an impression on me. You can find the German original, together with a different translation, here. And, at the height of my obsession, I've also found this article and the discussion here pretty useful.

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.


8 comments:

  1. We are glad to have you back, no matter the name! But do remember to keep us posted if you change the URL :)

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  2. I like your current name (it's very "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Good Literature," hee!), but I can't wait to see the new name you came up with. Also glad you're back!

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    1. Thank you, Heather! And yes, I hope you'll like the new name.

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  3. Welcome back :)

    I think this may be the beginning of my obsession with this poem!

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    1. That's what I call mission accomplished :)

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  4. I'm just happy to see you blogging :) It's been far too long!

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    1. Thank you :) It's great to be back!

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