Rilke, Cider & Delusions

When we left for Dublin, Ireland on Friday, I’d picked up a copy of Letters to a Young Poet in The Frenchman’s office. Many people had told me to read this, including a certain award-winning writer back when we were still friends. The irony is that he had tried to be Rilke to me in so many ways — and was, sweetly and sagely, for a bit — but decided in the end to turn it all inside out when Biting Midnight was published. It was a bizarre shift of intent. I guess I’ll never understand why he changed, so quickly and drastically.

That said, any past personal disappointments didn’t detract from my experience of Rilke. Not one bit.

I’ll have to go back and re-read the Letters. They were so dense with philosophy that even the smallest distractions flung me out of a phrase. I kept clambering back, as there was so much relevant advice about being a writer. Clearly, I’ve been thirsty for this. Not just the parts about writing, but he had some especially relevant points about living with sadness and difficulty that seemed useful to study in more depth.

And then there was Hibernia* — er, I mean Dublin. Glorious, blustery, dastardly cold Dublin. We especially loved The Writer’s Museum. It is without question the single most inspiring thing for me there (or anywhere, really). They offer this delightful one-man show that we saw put on by an actor named Neil O’Shea. He recited and acted bits of verse and plays by Swift, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Shaw and others. I managed to also snap some illicit photos of a first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Much cider and great Irish food were had, as was ambling in the chilly yet jubilant streets of Temple Bar late at night. The Frenchman is completely charmed. It was his first time there. I’m so thrilled because I love Ireland like no other place.

Oh, and when we get our first kitty, it’s going to be named Pangur Bán (whether it’s white or not).

In the airport coming back, I convinced him to buy me The God Delusion. I was going crazy with curiosity. Dawkins is so far very witty and extremely well read, managing in this book to quote current events as recent as this last April. (How does one do that when it takes six months for galleys? I don’t know.) I worry though that, as he sets up his argument to disprove the existence of God, he overstretches himself as he also tries to disprove the existence of anything supernatural whatsoever. The argument is already gearing up as if it’s going to pitch “stick it in your ear cos I’ve got logic” in response to any experience that falls outside of his own set of experiences. But we’ll see. He might hit it right out of the park. Thing is, there are plenty of us who got A’s in science, logic and philosophy classes — who even like science — and are open-minded and non-religious. Yet we’ve also experienced profound things that science answers unsatisfactorily or, in my case, not one damned bit.

I’ve got a lot of writing to catch up on, although I worked through some things on the plot somehow between pints and planes. I’m really pleased how the loose ends are now plaiting together nicely.

And now to work.

* This was what Julius Ceasar called Ireland when the Romans first arrived. It means “Eternal Winter.”

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