a very tart, terrible sharpness

Annie Dillard in The Writing Life – and I swear this is the last reference to it on this blog – highlights this passage from the writing of Jacob Boehme, the German mystic (for this particular reference, scroll down to Chapter 13, Verse 65). She says: He was writing, incoherently as usual, about the source of evil. The passage will serve as well for the source of books.

The whole Deity hath in its innermost or beginning birth, in the pith or kernel, a very tart, terrible sharpness, in which the astringent quality is a very horrible, tart, hard, dark and cold attraction or drawing together, like winter, when there is a fierce, bitter, cold frost, when water is frozen into ice, and besides it is very intolerable.

Not sure if I like the passage for what it actually says (and it says just what, again?) or for its crazily over-modified reliance on abstractions, but Annie Dillard thinks the source of books happens when we  “dissect out the very intolerable, tart, hard terribly sharp Pith or Kernel, and begin writing the book compressed therein.”

I think she’s right.