Beautiful Failure

Ben Lerner, “My First Time: Ben Lerner on The Lichtenberg Figures,” The Paris Review 16 February 2016 (video interview)

I kind of always assume that you don’t write the poem you want to write, you know, or you don’t make the book you want to make. And, on the one hand, it can be kind of depressing or whatever, right? But, on the other hand, it’s quite freeing because it means you discover something in the act of composition that you didn’t know in advance. Generally, I think of art as really about trying to actualize impossible desires with form. And you always fail to make the virtual actual. You always fail to transform the world through your poem, or whatever. But the failure itself can be beautiful, or pleasurable, and it can kind of exercise imaginative faculties that aren’t exercised when you’re just making things you know how to make.

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