"Men consecrate their lives to many different things, but to each the object of his life will become an ideal, for otherwise how cold we live? There are many ideals, some higher and some lower, but all real as long as they last. It is only when they cease to be our ideals, and descend with a rush to their natural levels, that we find ourselves suddenly outraged and debased by the thing we have lived to serve"
I hear that John Updike has died of cancer. Super bummer. I will never forget the exhilaration of reading the first chapter of The Centaur when I was a college freshman. A huge loss.
Every once in a while one gets proof of how one's personal memory can be flawed. This morning's comment on the death of Updike is an example. I have the strongest memory of reading the book when I was a freshman in '62-63. Well, his obits say that the book was published in 1964, so I have to be wrong. Yet my memory tells me, urges me to say that I read the book in my dorm room in Kildahl Hall at St. Olaf. I know exactly where I was sitting as I read the novel. Moreover, I read it in paperback form, so the book had to have been out long enough to go from hard cover to paperback.
How can I have erred all these year?
By the way, I saw Updike give a lecture at the Methodist Church in downtown Seattle a few years ago. Unless it was at the Unitarian Church in Minneapolis, or the Quaker Church in Chicago.
That is two big names whom I have seen personally in my life die within a week: W. D. Snodgrass and John Updike. It is dangerous to let me listen to you lecture. Look what happened to W. H. Auden. Dead.