Goethe lived from 1749 to 1832. In the two centuries since his death I am please to report that the planet has made great strides in mental health. At the dawn of the 21st century we have managed to confine the majority of our disordered minds to the executive suites and the board rooms of our largest corporations. A small consolation to the millions of us who must work in these corporations but progress nonetheless.
There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Sometimes in a man or a woman an awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable. There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness. The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness. In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplainable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and if the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through.
— John Steinbeck, Journals of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters
This is another installment from Steinbeck’s journals written as he was giving birth to East of Eden. It has echos from my Julian Schnabel quote when he said “That is true about all art. The conflict is to try and take what is inside of you and put it inside somebody else.”