Jan 212003

From Tropic of Cancer:

The book must be absolutely original, absolutely perfect. That is why, among other things, it is impossible for him to get started on it. As soon as he gets an idea he begins to question it. He remembers that Doestoevski used it, or Hamsun, or somebody else. “I’m not saying I want to be better than them, I want to be different,” he explains. And so, instead of tackling his book, he reads one author after another to make absolutely certain that he is not going to tread on their private property. And the more he reads the more disdainful he becomes. None of them are satisfying; none of them arrive at that degree of perfection which he has imposed on himself. And forgetting completely that he has not written so much as a chapter he talks about them condescendingly, quite as though there existed a shelf of books bearing his name, books which everyone is familiar with and the titles of which it is therefore superfluous to mention.

I don’t know anybody like that. Do you?