Monday, March 2, 2009

A non-touching tribute to John Updike

John Updike died a while back. I read about it in the New York Times and actually said aloud, "About time." And not because I didn't like the man- but because there are simply not that many artists living that are considered an enduring part of the American experience. His contribution as such was accepted years ago with all those Rabbit books- and with that, it seemed like he could settle down and write whatever he wanted, knowing his obituary would be run in all the major papers. I had been expecting him to die ever since I learned he was still alive.

He wrote some things that I love and some things that I hated. We don't see eye to eye on what it means to be a woman, but he certainly understood things about being a man. His essay, "The Disposable Rocket" was one of my favorites in college. He wrote a lovely poem called "Dead Dog," which makes me burst into tears every time I read it, including this evening.

To create in this world is a risky experiment. It takes a tremendous amount of self-confidence to attempt to put anything out at all. If you're even remotely in the loop, you know that there are people better than you out there doing exactly what you do and saying what you say. No small amount of self-delusion is necessary to keep steam after that realization. Then there's the fact that some people, even people you love and respect, will not like what you create and will say as much. You can hurt people you love by creating. John Updike, for what it's worth, created anyway, for decades, and I think that's courage worth appreciating.

1 comment:

Ryan Yang said...

NPR interview.

You meant the poem "Dog's Death"?