The Unemployed Magician

ONCE IN HIS LIFE, at a time of his own choosing, each poet is allowed to have an interview with the god of letters. He is a real god, I think, and maybe much more than that. He can answer all questions about poetry, especially the ones poets and philosophers have never been able to settle; I suspect that he can answer every other question as well. The poet, unfortunately, cannot return with the answers; as he shakes hands and says good-bye to the god, the visitor is automatically brainwashed. All recollection of the god's wisdom is obliterated and the poet returns home to write-- criticism.

Recently I held my meeting with this deity. I am not sure I really remember our talk, but I have a small facility for reconstructing dreams, and I am under the impression that I can recount the most important questions and answers that passed between us.

The god was sitting behind his desk, polite and prepared to listen to questions he had answered thousands of times before. I had a slight temptation to ask better questions than others had, but I dropped this


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In Defense of Ignorance


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