26. Aug, 2015

A journalist blogger? A journalising Baudelaire?

'n Bekende argitek-digter-sanger van Stellenbosch het in 2008 die volgende indruk oor my geskryf:

A well-known architect-poet-singer from Stellenbosch in 2008 wrote the following impression of me:

Maybe I'm too straight. Or too English. Too smart, too stuffed with my own rational ideals, too eager a cynic, too sluggish a saint.

I know no man who in his correspondence is quite as public as Johann P. Boshoff with his (modestly remarkable) life, or who has so unquestioned an assumption that his crises of faith and fate are of urgent and universal appeal and concern. Perhaps this very transparency is what in the end radically distinguishes a "great" life from a mundane one. The first task of the critics and canonists (and would-be biographers) has always been to discriminate between the journalists and journalisers, the bloggers and the Baudelaires.

For sure, no one was ever enchanted by a balanced man. No magic, and no art, ever crackled from the tip of a satisfied pen. Some authors' pathologies drive them into a dark privacy which they must nurture in order always to be redeeming themselves from the loneliness of it, even as others are clambering up into The Light, where they find that their own creative charge is to be drawn from their ever and again falling away from it. The root work of each is to try to know himself before he can begin to participate in (the fallacy of) knowing others.


a man is a world uncharted

his eyes are the sun gone down to shine

on an unknown, private hemisphere


a man is a sudden gust of being,

the glint of a watchglass from a distant hill

and his diffident hello

bobs momentarily

on the wake

of his passing


Maybe what I am lacking is simply a kind of intelligence-of-self. Maybe with such underpinning I would be equipped and emboldened to resolve the riddle of Johann, of his strange and vigorous brand of private publicity, of the apparent contrast between his capacity for rich, tight, complex, ambiguous verse and his (to my mind) facile inspirational writings.

I have no taste for Johann's faith, or the literature it generates. But he is (in the fullest and most active sense) a writer, a robust conversationalist and in my experience a generous and supportive reader. And more than once, when the Holy Spirit has been looking the other way, I've seen him assemble a damned fine poem.