Reading Gary Snyder again with Kenneth White
This week has been busy with a steady and intense work session to (almost) complete a big project. I punctuated it by reading Kenneth White’s poetic biography of Gary Snyder, published by Wildproject.
I was pleased to find again what had first struck me about Snyder, the simple yet ambitious project of articulating the three powerful fields of force that animate him: an ethic of doing mixed with the mystique of everyday life, a historical anthropology of holistic societies, and a strong aspiration for social justice.
Over the years, it seems to me that the most lasting contribution of my reading of Kerouac - which had left a deep impression on the countryside teenager that I was - is the discovery of Snyder and his work. I keep coming back to it; it has shaped me much more than I thought it would. The stubbornness to tell what we owe to the milieu and what makes us human, to describe the tenuous but real thread that links discipline and spontaneity, these are two of the factors that seem to me to have allowed Gary Snyder’s work to blossom. There are undoubtedly others, and I have much more to read. This short poetic biography has certainly refreshed my interest.
It was also an invitation to finally read Kenneth White - he’s been in my to-read pile for far too long (Tsundoku, my love).