The Prodigal Son by Ranier Maria Rilke

In recent days I have had less time to write longer posts, so I have decided that I would try to do more and more smaller posts about things I have read recently or found interesting.

The other day I rediscovered Rilke’s reinterpretation of “The Prodigal Son” story from the bible. This passage ends Rilke’s only work of fiction called “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,” which I highly recommend as well if you have time to read it.

Rilke does not tell the story of the prodigal son as someone who lapses into sin and debauchery but is welcomed back to his family with open arms. Instead Rilke tells the story of “the legend of a man who didn’t want to be loved.”

There are some beautiful pieces of writing such as:

For he had loved again and again in his solitude, each time squandering his whole nature and in unspeakable fear for the freedom of the other person. Slowly he learned to let the rays of his emotion shine through into the beloved object, instead of consuming the emotion in her. And he was pampered by the joy of recognizing, through the more and more transparent form of the beloved, the expanses that she opened to his infinite desire for possession.”

Anyway, I encourage you to read the rest.

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On Influence: Starting and Stopping Cracks

Since it is shameless plug week at DUFL press, I thought I’d shamelessly plug an essay by my good friend, Greg Gerke,  on the Kenyon Review’s website. It’s a luminous, thoughtful essay about influences in art and what it means to create. Plus, Mr. Gerke discusses Rilke, William Gass, Wallace Stevens and Elizabeth Bishop, and God knows I love them all dearly. There are numerous passages I adore in the essay, but since I don’t want to ruin it for you, here are three: Read the rest of this entry »


Freud, Rilke, and some rambling thoughts on choice

“The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious; what I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.” – Sigmund Freud

In the last half of the 19th century, an Austrian doctor with a penchant for smoking cigars did something remarkable. He shocked the medical community by saying that most of our behaviors were not a matter of conscious choice but were a result of the unconscious, a vast reservoir of memories, repressed feelings, and desires that were the actual motives to our behaviors.
Read the rest of this entry »