‘Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew’

It’s funny as your bookmarks stack up to realize some have collected around a theme. At one end, there’s Meghan O’Rourke on Cristina Nehring’s A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century. “Nehring yearns for a revival of a messier ardor,” O’Rourke says, praising much and questioning a few conclusions. “But Nehring’s paean to unconventional ecstasy is a bracing reminder of how narrow and orthodox our vision of love has become,” O’Rourke concludes.

Since when are longevity and frictionlessness, Nehring prompts us to ask, themselves a sign of “success”? … Only we can judge how a relationship changes us — what new spaces open up inside ourselves, or how a turbulent encounter may enlarge our view of human nature…

Lastly, O’Rourke calls up excerpts from a poem by Jack Gilbert, “Failing and Flying.” The poem’s a beautiful read, and the Poetry Foundation has put the full piece online. “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew. / It’s the same when love comes to an end, / or the marriage fails and people say / they knew it was a mistake, that everybody /said it would never work. That she was / old enough to know better. But anything /worth doing is worth doing badly.” It goes on, and the end is great.

At the other end of the bookmark stack, there’s a message board post from a part-time DJ in Sweden. The guy mentions briefly a story some of us know already — how a conversation with Springsteen outside his hotel in 2005 led to the first playing of Fade Away in 24 years. He goes onto explain how last month he was on a quest for the first E Street run at the song in 28 years. The ’80-’81 version is perfectly desperate.

We hear about a talk with Little Steven, a string of shows — “Come the rainiest gig I’ve ever been to on the 4th. They didn’t play it. Come a rainfree but cold gig on the 5th. They didn’t play it.” — and a sign.

The happy ending to the story is one of the cooler tour moments:

None of these bookmarks are apropo of anything except each other. Next to them, and their love-and-suffering theme, there are bookmarks for “The Poem that Can’t Be Written” and a choice Emerson quote, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.”

The poem, after a few reads, comes to the same place: “In the poem that cannot / be written there is no danger, / no ponderous cargo of meaning, / no meaning at all. And this / is its splendor, this is how / it becomes an emblem, / not of failure or loss, / but of the impossible.” What’s beyond what we can see or do or achieve drives us forward, working in the space up to that point. As for what that space is, that nearer side of possibility, nothingness is only one interpretation.

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