The letters of the alphabet frighten me terribly

I was looking through my notebooks and came across a great quote about writing from Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel about St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis. (I can’t vouch for the translation in the linked edition–I read a much earlier one–but as far as I can tell it’s the only one in print.) The book is narrated by Francis’s best friend and follower, Brother Leo, who says (and I apologize in advance for the association of blackness with the devil):

“Yes, may God forgive me, but the letters of the alphabet frighten me terribly. They are sly, shameless demons–and dangerous! You open the inkwell, release them; they run off and how will you ever get control of them again? They come to life, join, separate, ignore your commands, arrange themselves as they like on the paper–black, with tails and horns. You scream at them and ignore them in vain: they do as they please. Prancing, pairing up shamelessly before you, they deceitfully expose what you did not wish to reveal, and they refuse to give voice to what is struggling, deep within your bowels, to come forth and speak to mankind.”

He’s got it right on the nose, doesn’t he?

Here is another bit from the book that I love:

“When an almond tree because covered with blossoms in the heart of winter, all the trees around it began to jeer. ‘What vanity,’ they screamed, ‘what insolence! Just think, it believes it can bring spring in this way!’ The flowers of the almond tree blushed for shame. ‘Forgive me, my sisters,’ said the tree. ‘I swear I did not want to blossom, but suddenly I felt a warm springtime breeze in my heart.'”

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