tradition and the individual talent
I am a can with a hole in it. Everything pours in too quickly, drains back out before I can catch hold of it. I can't give any of it to you. If you want to know about the Mahler last night, I should just send you to the review. I got the piano tuned and the action regulated; it's been needing the latter for about twenty-five years. It sounds like a new piano. I also will weave myself into something new. Reading Brian Boyd's biography of Nabokov makes me feel exactly as I felt reading Richard Ellmann's biography of Joyce in my faunal nineteenth year. They are hagiographies to me, and plenty of people would rightly take me to task for this. But I am already developing a nice schizophrenic divide between my critical self, which is appropriately skeptical and concerned with class and power and literature as a social construct and whatever else is comme il faut around here; and my dirty little secret artistic self, which still sympathizes with Matthew Arnold and (gasp!) The New Criterion more often than you might think.
For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.
Nabokov wrote that, but it could have been any of the old dowdy critics we like to laugh at these days. I haven't stopped listening.