The Voice in Cuckoo’s Nest

The crazy-not-crazy voice of Chief Bowden in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest shunts straight into a place we forget about because we’re scared: That ain’t me, that ain’t my face. It wasn’t even really my face then; it was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted. It don’t seem like I ever been me. I was seeing me do things that didn’t fit my face or hands, thinks like painting a picture or writing letters to somebody in a beautiful flowing hand. (140)

And defines happiness as best as any: We’d just shared the last beer and slung the empty can out the window at the stop sign and were leaning back to get the feel of the day, swimming in that kind of tasty drowsiness that comes over you after a day of going hard at something you enjoy doing – half sunburned and half drunk and keeping awake only because you wanted to savor the taste as long as you could. I noticed vaguely that I was getting so’s I could see some good in the life around me. I was feeling better than I’d remembered feeling since I was a kid, when everything was good and the land was singing kids’ poetry in me. (202)

Ice Friday: E. B. White’s “Writing as a Profession”

E.B. White wrote the following on May 11, 1929 in The New Yorker:

“Writing is not an occupation,” writes Sherwood Anderson. “When it comes to an occupation a certain amateur spirit is gone out of it. Who wants to lose that?” Nobody does, replies the semi-pro, sitting here straining at his typewriter. Nobody does, yet few writers have the courage to buy a country newspaper, or even quit a city writing job for anything at all. P1000813What Mr. Anderson says is pretty true. Some of the best writings of writers, it seems to us, were done before they actually thought of themselves as engaged in producing literature. Some of the best humor of humorists was produced before they heard the distant laughter of their multitudes. Probably what Mr. Anderson means, more specifically, is that life is apt to be translated most accurately by a person who sees it break through the mist at unexpected moments – a person who experiences sudden clear images. P1000739A writer, being conscientious, is always straining his eyes for this moment, peering ahead and around; consequently when the moment of revelation comes, his eyes poppy and tired and his sensitized mind has become fogged by the too-frequent half-stimuli of imagined sight. No figure is more pitiful to contemplate than the novelist with a thousand-dollar advance from a publishing house and a date when the manuscript is due. he knows he must invite his soul, but he is compelled to add, “And don’t be late, soul!”