adding page because .. Maria:
how to know everything about everything
That year, 29-year-old Riding wrote a series of letters to 8-year-old Catherine — the daughter of Graves and the artist Nancy Nicholson. Originally published by a Parisian press in a limited edition of 200 copies each signed by the author, Four Unposted Letters to Catherine (public library) endures as a small, miraculous book
There are many people who are not entirely themselves because as children they were not given time to think about themselves.
quite in room ness
And because they don’t know everything about themselves they can’t know everything about everything. But no one likes to admit that she doesn’t know everything about everything. And so
these people try to make up for not knowing everything about everything by doing things.
People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves, and so really be themselves, try to make up for not thinking with doing. They try to pretend that doing is thinking
The wrong kind of doing is doing that people do not for comfort or fun but in order to prove to themselves and to other people that they are people.
nothing to prove ness
Of course, the only kind of people that people of this sort could impress would be people like them, who wished to seem people in a general way although they weren’t particularly speaking people. In a place where most of the people were like this the object of life would be busyness. And, dear Catherine, this is the way the world is. Only a small part of the doings in it are done for comfort or fun. The rest is just showing-off.
The greatest showers-off and busy-bodies are men. And so this world is ruled by men, because it is a world not of doing but over-doing.
A world of simple doing would need no ruling.
It takes really very little doing to keep comfortably and happily alive. We ought not to pay much more attention to doing than to breathing.
Praise … is the confidence in yourself that you get from people whom you have succeeded in pleasing when you haven’t any confidence in yourself.
A poem or anything like that that is thinking and not doing … is of course much harder work than making a chair, but it is work done with laziness not with busyness. By this I mean that in making a poem there is no hurry or purpose as there is in making a chair; it has nothing to do with fun or comfort, it is better than fun or comfort. Having fun and being comfortable is connected with being alive for a good long time, a year or maybe a hundred years. But making a poem is like being alive for always: this is what I mean by laziness and there being no hurry or purpose. A good poem, then, or any good thinking thing, wouldn’t try to give comfort or fun to people: it would be good because of what it was, not because of what it did, and so give people something better than comfort or fun — a feeling of laziness, of being alive for always. Only someone who knows herself in an everything way could make such a thing, but to make such a thing is nothing to be proud of or show off about. For if you are able to make a poem, it doesn’t seem a wonderful thing to do; it seems just a necessary-natural thing to do.
Laura “Riding” Jackson (January 16, 1901 – September 2, 1991) was an American poet, critic, novelist, essayist and short story writer.