George Steiner on Saturday

I’ve often wondered why Thoreau’s Week begins on a Saturday.  If he has Genesis in mind, it should open with Monday, not have the day of rest the second day out.  Of course maybe Thoreau just stuck to the calendar of his actual embarkation with his brother, John.  The Week on the Concord and Merrimack is a long hidden elegy  to John, so the relatively upbeat Genesis (“And God saw that it was good . . “) perhaps failed to quite catch his mood in writing.  Here’s something from George Steiner that may give a clue:

. . . ours is the long journey of the Saturday,
 between suffering, aloneness, unutterable waste, on the one hand
and the dream of liberation, or rebirth, on the other.
 In the face of the torture of a child, of the love which is Friday,
even the greatest art and poetry are almost helpless.
The apprehensions and figurations in the play of metaphysical imagining,
in the poem and the music, which tell of pain and hope,
of the flesh that is said to taste of ash
and of the spirit which is said to have the savour of fire, are always Sabbatarian.
They have risen out of an immensity of waiting which is that of man.
Without them, how could we be patient?
—George Steiner, Real Presences, 231


One comment on “George Steiner on Saturday

  1. dmf says:

    are we patient, have we ever been patient?
    I always resisted the shift in therapeutic circles to talk in terms of clients, and contracts, instead of patients.
    the hope of someone becoming patient sustained in the daunting face of what was most often at hand, such a faith in practice, process, and conversion is an untimely one alas.

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