My grandfather Daddy Carder’s death was the end of one large family cycle, containing seven smaller ones, and these broke off after his death. There were no more Thanksgiving reunions; there was less back and fourth. Major writers from James Joyce to T.S. Elliot and Virginia Woolf have focused on the circular nature of life (I realize Joyce, Elliot, and Woolf were contemporaries, but there are many other examples) and have made these patterns (some daily, others life-long and intergenerational) central to their work. W. Y. Tindall, in his book JAMES JOYCE HIS WAY OF INTERPRETING THE WORLD (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950) devoted a whole chapter to cycles in Joyce and others
Unifying a body of work or bringing unity to a single one, as in life: paying attention to cycles can bring form to something that otherwise wouldn’t have any. There is no way we can overlook the cycle we live: from birth to death, the deterioration in that process. Somewhere in that scheme we can also find renewal, as we search for eternity, infinity, and God. (As Tindall put it, writers, “immersed in temporal flux, have been preoccupied with eternity.” And Shakespeare, I might add, with “bottomlessnes.” “Some of them, (Tindall again) like Aldous Huxley and T.S. Eliot, have attempted to exchange the cycle of time for the still point at the center.”) My writing, so far, hasn’t taken me into these waters (waters, a simple analogy that I can handle), and though I may risk drowning (or criticism or ridicule), I think it’s where I want to go.
But our world has changed. We no longer live in the age of Joyce, Huxley, Eliot, and Woolf. It has been well over fifty years, nearly a life-time. Yet I feel I have to go back there. I want to learn and think. I take that seriously and hope it’s not too late. As everyday is a cycle, not quite at the end of a major one, maybe there’s still a chance…to incorporate some of the things that now excite me (and I’m just learning about and some original thoughts) into my writing.