“things that are poetic merely by implying a destiny”

“Sometimes the autobiographical, personal substance, like a heart beating deep, disappears behind the accidents that incarnate it. There are occasional compositions or lines that are inexplicably pleasing: their images barely approximate, are never to the point; the story they tell appears to be a botched job by a lazy imagination, in stilted diction, and yet that composition or isolated verse pleases us, does not fall easily from memory. Those divergences of aesthetic judgment and emotion are usually engendered by this incompetence; studied carefully, the verses we like despite ourselves always depict a soul, an idiosyncracy, a destiny. What’s more, there are things that are poetic merely by implying a destiny: for example, the map of a city, a rosary, the names of two sisters.”

From “A Profession of Literary Faith,” in Collected Non-Fictions

UPDATE: David Foster Wallace’s review of Edwin Williamson’s Borges: a Life

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