[ I feel an extraordinary ability ]Notes on poetics and ethics
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I feel an extraordinary ability welling in me. I am convinced that had I so desired, I could become a great doctor, or lawyer, or financier, or engineer. But that would require two things –  time to study, and the resolve to spurn literature. Now, is this a delusion? Do I overestimate myself? Or is it a natural occurence for every littérateur – I mean, a power possessed by every littérateur. All practical matters seem easy to me. I acknowledge that despite my conviction, it is true that without time, without enough time, I will not able to become a successful man in the practical world. But then – since I grant myself the time – do I not fall in the general category; by spending enough time, any man, even of mediocre mental powers, can succeed. Or maybe not; and what makes me superior is my sense that I would require far lesser time. That does not prevent me from knowing that I would never become a successful man in the practical fields, because it seems impossible to me to uproot from my innards my hankering for literature – except with an effort which would nearly break my soul. And now another thought crosses my mind: perhaps this ability of mine – which manifests itself by the apparent facility of the practical fields – derives from literature, from incessant thinking, from the sharpening of imagination. If it were possible to make the effort without damage, and spurn Imagination, then perhaps I would lose my powers, and the practical fields would seem to me as difficult as they seem to the common folk. But I don’t believe this. The ability is there. My weakness – or power, if you suppose that artistic work is worthwhile – is precisely my inability to spurn literature, or, more correctly, the sensual agitation of imagination.

18 August 1902

Translated by Manuel Savidis


- Original Greek Text