On luxuries

Friday, 7 March 2014


“What a luxury a cat is, the moments of shocking and startling pleasure in a day, the feel of the beast, the soft sleekness under your palm, the warmth when you wake on a cold night, the grace and charm even in a quite ordinary workaday puss. Cat walks across your room, and in that lonely stalk you see leopard or even panther, or it turns its head to acknowledge you and the yellow blaze of those eyes tells you what an exotic visitor you have here, in this household friend, the cat who purrs as you stroke, or rub his chin, or scratch his head.”
―Doris Lessing, The Old Age of El Magnifico

“Her ears, lightly fringed with white that looked silver, lifted and moved, back, forward, listening and sensing. Her face turned, slightly, after each new sensation, alert. Her tail moved, in another dimension, as if its tip was catching messages her other organs could not. She sat poised, air-light, looking, hearing, feeling, smelling, breathing, with all of her, fur, whiskers, ears -- everything, in delicate vibration.”
―Doris Lessing, On Cats


I came across these quotes as I was searching for some things on Doris Lessing after reading this article in which she is mentioned. I think they’re wonderful.

This article expresses so many of the conversations I’ve had with writer friends about the roles privilege, family background, money, connections within the industry, and having someone financially support you play in the production of many books and literature. Talent is great. But talent with money, time and connections is often what leads to substantial use of this talent. Many people are talented, but lack the time or resources to do anything with it.

Yet bizarrely, we’ve bought into the grand myth that the production of literature and art is separated from commerce – that we function in a pure meritocracy. Nope. It’s incredibly misleading, dishonest and ultimately, discouraging, to face a group of would-be young writers and tell them that talent or lack of ‘distractions” is all they need (also, really, life is all about distractions, we can’t realistically live a pure life free from them, that’s bullshit).

That’s all I have to say. Go read the article, I think it’s a must-read for writers. Thanks Tracey for bringing it to my attention.

Image credits (top to bottom): Sleeping Cat by Pierre Auguste Renoir; Katjesspel by Henriette Ronner-Knip.


Rambling Tart said...

I absolutely loved that article, Hila, because it's so true. A friend and I discuss this issue regularly, amazed at how many successful people don't acknowledge the things that actually enable them to do what they do. Sharing this article with my writer's group post haste. :-)

Maša said...

Cute coincidence - my cat walked over the keyboard right after I've opened Bloglovin' and he opened your post. :)
You reminded me of a lovely poem about Pangur Ban: http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Poetry/PangurBan.html

Hila said...

Krista: I think some of it is perhaps embarrassment (I guess not everyone feels comfortable saying, yes, my partner supports me, or yes, I come from a good financial background/family), and perhaps also just a want to keep certain things private. But I guess when successful writers who are indeed privileged are placed in an authoritative position of giving advice to other writers who are not, and they don't exactly tell the truth about the realities of what allows them to have time and money to write, it gets a bit unethical.

Masa: aww, sweet :) and that poem is awesome.