Tolstoy, authorship, and communication

They talked of the injustice of power, of the sufferings of the unfortunate, of the poverty of the people, but in reality their eyes, gazing at each other through the sounds of their conversation, kept asking: ‘Can you love me?’ and answering ‘I can’, and physical desire, assuming the most unexpected and radiant forms, was drawing them together.

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, in Resurrection.

Whenever I talk about why I love Tolstoy this is the passage that comes to mind. Amongst his alien details of rural settings and Russian society he includes such precise, and well articulated, observances of universal, basic, human, personal, and (apparently-not-)inarticulatable truths, I feel like I am in direct, private, contact with him. This direct connection with an author is what moves me in art, and is why art is so important to me. It’s fake, of course; incredibly real, and beautiful.

I’ve noticed recently that I can’t speak about things I find beautiful without struggling to get the words out; without my lips quivering, and my muscles seizing, without my body wanting to give them up.  It’s like the experience of things like this becomes perfectly etched into my memory, and recalling them reenacts them physically, and makes them even stronger. I don’t know how much of this reaction is related to the difficulty of the reexperience happening simultaneously with attempting to vocalise, and how much is a reaction to having to share something so private, and personal.


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