Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Incorrigible life …

… Philip Larkin: Desired Reading by Christopher Ricks | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We are to recognize here the lasting power of Dr. Johnson: “The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.” For Larkin, as for Johnson, what might seem to some of us a third possibility was never really a possibility at all: What about enabling the readers to bring about a better way of life, to better life? To the conservatively tragic cast of mind, life is incorrigible. “Human life,” Johnson said, “is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.” Life is not something that can be made better other than palliatively (not that this is nothing), and life cannot be bested. Or worsted.

1 comment:

  1. Those are effecting lines, but I of course disagree with Johnson/Larkin. I think life can be bested and literature is in fact the prefect medium to show us how. It can also show us how to worst life, sadly.