The Emptiness Where God Would Be


Interviewer: Do you think of yourself as having a relationship with God?

Anne Carson: [...] reading a lot of mystics, especially Simone Weil, I’ve come to understand that the best one can hope for as a human is to have a relationship with that emptiness where God would be if God were available, but God isn’t.

As Carson talks of a relationship with the emptiness where God would be, it seems she has developed a relationship with another sort of a emptiness... the empty poetic spaces we have in Sappho's poetry, poetry of which we have inherited only fragments. Just like God, those missing slivers of verses are unavailable (while existing in a sense), but the readers and interpreters are invariably drawn into a relationship.

Anne Carson: [...] this is the magic of fragments—the way that poem breaks off leads into a thought that can’t ever be apprehended. There is the space where a thought would be, but which you can’t get hold of. I love that space. It’s the reason I like to deal with fragments. Because no matter what the thought would be if it were fully worked out, it wouldn’t be as good as the suggestion of a thought that the space gives you. Nothing fully worked out could be so arresting, spooky.

Read also in the interview how the mysterious half-verse of Sappho's fragment 31 ("But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty") leads Carson to a mystical interpretation of the poem. 

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