Literature isn't a thing you do for yourself, but you also don't not do it for yourself. Your soul needs saving, too. Writing is not even a thing you do for revolution, though you don't not do it for revolution, too, and just as you sometimes have to write "I saw, I felt" you also have to write "we felt, we did," too, and "they did, they said," also, even when the we is a shaky and nascent and sometimes wavering collectivity and the they is the one that constitutes an enemy that you would rather not discuss.
They the state, They the oil companies, They the institutions by which the present arrangement reproduces itself -- these are not the Theys I prefer, not like They the lavender asters in September, or They the clouds, or They the bats who adorn the attic. To leave any of it out: the clouds or the state or the bats or the institutions would, however, be a lie. To write only of an I without a We just because the We we have is not yet sufficient would be a lie, too, because the I of the moment is even shakier than a We -- if the We is a dance party with the ghost of a memory of a promise in it, the I is a daybed with the same.
And yet this is it, this life — the only party we got invited to. Marx told us as much about not getting to make our history under conditions of our choosing. If I'd chosen, it would be whenever a person could sit in a grove doing dialectics as an acolyte of the religion of Don Quixote, a religion which has only two commandments:
be a shepherd
live mad, die sane
That time would probably be communism. And as this is not yet the case, I write about literature at all or to you today because I am saving my own soul by remembering that even in the grim times, what each of us has is each other. At least there is that You, which is every beloved, which constitutes itself across difference and species and the whole of life. You is eros and caritas all mixed up in a word. It is also the stranger who any of us might be, and in that the only law is probably love, and that the violation of life anywhere is the violation of life everywhere, and in that no one is free until everyone is, You is what everything in the world is staked on, including yourself.
Brecht, of course, wrote "In the dark times there will be singing / singing about the dark times." And I always want to add, to save my own soul, "just check that you aren't singing a lullaby!" despite how much I someday hope to be singing one in a grove to the dialectical sheep. The other reason for this newsletter, is because some mornings you can't fall back asleep because the force of death keeps on its fatal march, and you open Amiri Baraka and find this:
The main thing
to be against