Several times I've wanted to write here, and then something else came up and I put it off. On Tuesday morning I sent the manuscript for the new book to Carcanet, and tried to put it out of my mind. This wasn't too hard to do because Wednesday we flew to San Francisco, which took most of the day, and then one is too jet-lagged to think of much besides domestic tasks: stocking the fridge, unpacking, trying to remember where I put my...slippers, say...four months ago. Friends were staying in our apartment in our absence, so we'd made closet and drawer space for them.
Yesterday I sorted mail and went to the first meeting of a seminar on campus: Sepp Gumbrecht on 'Bliss and Literature," 3 hours a week. The first week of classes here is Shopping Week. The students can go to different classes, then choose the ones they want to take. The amphitheatre was 90% full. The first reading was the scene in the Illiad where Priam goes to Achilles to beg for the body of Hector. I've just reread the passage and my notes from yesterday; which made me think about the difference between happiness (my translation of the Illiad speaks of happiness) and bliss, as well as about bliss and that literary chestnut, the epiphany. This because another thought took me to Eliot's Burnt Norton, where he seems to be having an epiphany or moment of bliss or happiness, towards the end, a moment when the flow of time becomes meaningless. I need to reread the 4Q.
Not blissful was the flight from Paris to SF, because there was a small child nearby, who was probably handicapped in some way we couldn't define, but which involved hyperactivity and long bouts of screaming. When I realized he wasn't misbehaving I also realized that his parents were doing an extraordinary job of taking things in stride.