I’d been living in lovely, provincial San Francisco and had moved to Berlin because I’d felt I was missing out on something exciting, and now I was on the brink of leaving lively, provisional Berlin because I was afraid I was missing out on something serious.
What if novelists and poets were to get a salary, the wage of a skilled worker? … But who decides who qualifies as a writer? Does it take one sonnet? Of what quality? Ten novels? 50,000 readers? Ten, but the right readers? God knows we shouldn’t trust the state to make that kind of decision. So we should democratise that boisterous debate, as widely and vigorously as possible. … Mistakes will be made, sure, but will they really be worse than the philistine thuggery of the market?
A messy argument of the “future of the book” genre, but worth the read.
Despite his extremely ill-proportioned physique, Swinburne dreamt from early youth, and particularly after reading newspaper accounts of the charge at Balaclava, of joining a cavalry regiment and losing his life as a beau sabreur in some equally senseless battle. Even when he was a student at Oxford, this vision outshone any other conception he might have of his own future; and only when all hope of dying a hero’s death was gone, thanks to his underdeveloped body, did he devote himself unreservedly to literature and thus, perhaps, to a no less radical form of self-destruction.