I’ve been thinking a lot about E.E. Cummings lately. When I was a teenager in the 1960s, he shaped my thinking and showed me goals to aim for … I remember the the feeling of recognition (“Yes, this is it!”) when reading his books and poetry, and my disgust when I read Ayn Rand.
Here is a quote from “nonlectures”:
“Little by little and bruise by teacup, my doubly disillusioned spirit made an awesome discovery…that all groups, gangs, and collectives — no matter how apparently disparate — are fundamentally alike; and that what makes the world go ’round is not the trivial differences between them but the immeasurable difference between any of them and individuality.”
“Better Worlds are born, not made, and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals. Let us pray always for individuals; never for worlds.”
As I see it, Cummings’ advice to students applies to all of us:
“A lot of people think or believe or know they feel—but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling—not knowing or believing or thinking.
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people : but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.”