Friday, December 23, 2011

" .. that at each of them stands a figure with a pair of eyes .. "

imagine a literature
of power without force

He is alertly conscious of
being one pair of these eyes. 
We see the natural amendments
he adopts in his stance, for
the vantage that's allotted
him. Comparatively slight as
adjustments, he relishes how
they allow him stability, re-
pose he must lack when he can-
not restore himself to them.
They portray his freedom, and
are warrants of his honesty. 

How more Watteau could he be,

A house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million - a number of possible windows not to be reckoned, rather .. These apertures, of dissimilar shape and size, hang so, all together, over the human scene that we might have expected of them a greater sameness of report than we find. They are but windows at the best, mere holes in a dead wall, disconnected, perched aloft .. But they have this mark of their own that at each of them stands a figure with a pair of eyes .. a unique instrument, insuring to the person making use of it an impression distinct from every other .. the pierced aperture, either broad or balconied or slit-like and low-browed, is the "literary form"; but they are, singly or together, as nothing without the posted presence of the watcher - without, in other words, the consciousness of the artist.

                   Tell me what the artist is, and
                   I will tell you of what he has
                   been conscious.

                   Thereby I shall express to you 
                   at once his boundless freedom 
                   and his "moral" reference.

Henry James
  The Portrait of a Lady
The Art of the Novel
op. cit.

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