A wonderful quote from The Undiscovered Island

I’ve been reading through my dad’s novel, which is slow going because it’s like eating a hearty meal. You want to savor everything. And I came across this beautiful passage that I thought I would post here, and which, in my opinion, epitomizes this book.

“‘Life is the dream we spin as we grow, constructing illusions around us, illusions which separate us from others, which tie us to still others, illusions upon which we stand, and which represent who and what we are… What is reality when compared to the illusions that defy and overleap our limitations, our fears, illusions which can lift us up from the dark, the lower regions wherein we cheapen and shortchange ourselves? Anti-illusion is anti-art, a return to the base, to the superstitious, the primitive, to fear. It is, in effect anti-love — life pared down to the level of pure instinct — while love is our greatest artistic expression, as both the ultimate object and the medium.

“How desperate our need is for the delusions and fantasies by which we sustain our hopes and dreams; no matter that these fancies may not represent reality, or exist in the ‘ real world,’ for there is a separate reality of the heart, mind, spirit and soul, which without these wisps and figments can only wither. One’s life should be a search for the highest of these ideals, the unmappable regions of love, the imagination, the impossible.

“I make up a story, amend the facts I find in recollection, in order to portray an essence, a truth that can’t be found and stated in any other way… what is reality stripped bare? Facts, numbers, dates, cold and dead to life, like a barren rock, a grain of sand, with no perspective of human relationship, or even of how that grain of sand relates to a beach, the sea, or an island; a life without poetry, without art. It is better to reach for the impossible, to fight against entropy and limitations; better to know we are composed of star-stuff, of the same planet we inhabit, of all life therein, that we in fact contain all the universe within ourselves. Imagination alone can make us what we may become.'”

we’ve been trying to brainstorm ways that we can promote this book so that more people read it, or, at the very least, know of its existence. The irony is my dad’s been spending more money just trying to get the book out to people than he’s ever going to get from the publisher.

It makes me sad because when I read this book I truly believe that he’s written something miraculous, a great work. I know artists of all stripes love to remind themselves and each other that great work is rarely appreciated during the lifetime of the artist who creates it, and I wonder if that is to be the fate of this book. I wonder if I, in my autumn years, will live to see this book garner the attention it deserves. How odd that would be, and how bittersweet, and how ironic.

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