‘It dropped me far from here with no way forward all around. We met between tables. Later in a room we thought our hearts would burst but they beat on. We parted smiling. There are doorways in which to watch you walk away, watch it all go on. There are scenes on the side of life, ways between grasping and giving up.’
The scene is like the Sentence: structurally, there is no obligation for it to stop; no internal constraint exhausts it, because, as in the Sentence, once the core is given (the fact, the decision), the expansions are infinitely renewable. Only some circumstance external to its structure can interrupt the scene: the exhaustion of the two partners (that of only one would not suffice), the arrival of a third party (in Werther, it is Albert), or else the sudden substitution of desire for aggression. Unless these accidents are employed, no partner has the power to check a scene. What means might I have? Silence? It would merely quicken the will to have the scene; I am therefore obliged to answer in order to soothe, to erase. Reasoning? None is of such pure metal as to leave the other partner without something to say. Analysis of the scene itself? To shift from the scene to the metascene merely means opening another scene. Flight? This is the sign of a defection already achieved: the couple is already undone: like love, the scene is always reciprocal. Hence, the scene is interminable, like language itself: it is language itself, taken in its infinity, that ‘perpetual adoration’ which brings matters about in such a way that since man has existed, he has not stopped talking.
– Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse (tr. R. Howard)
Soon (or simultaneously) the question is no longer ‘Why don’t you love me?’ but ‘Why do you only love me a little?’ How do you manage to love a little? What does that mean, loving ‘a little’? I live under the regime of too much or not enough; greedy for coincidence as I am, everything which is not total seems parsimonious; what I want is to occupy a site from which quantities are no longer perceived, and from which all accounts are banished.
– Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse (tr. R. Howard)
Whenever I happen to see you
I forget for a while
That I am ugly in my own eyes
For not winning you
I wanted you to choose me
Over all the men you know
Because I am destroyed
In their company
I have often prayed for you
Let me have her
– Leonard Cohen, The Energy of Slaves
‘Something dawned on me and it was the night. Something dawned on me and it was false. Nothing dawned on me. How does one. How. Night and it was nothing. Night. How does one. To end. To end all. To end something and nothing all together end and beginning all together. Sweet dreams. Or to end false for false to end. To end night. To end false night and rebuild. Rebuild what. To end sweet dreams rebuild what. To end or to begin. New dawn no more sweet dreams. Something broke everything is breaking. Nothing dawns oh to end all. Oh to rebuild. From what. Rebuild. From what. Breaking broken all breaking now all going gone. End all now. Rebuild now. From what. End. Start. From what. Start. Rebuild. Build.’
Bounce back, X tells me, that’s what he should learn to do. When life hits you you should just bounce back, or let it bounce back off you, he’s not sure which. Either way it’s about bouncing back, he says. Life’s blows can be good for you, he says, isn’t that what they say? Open you up to fresh points of view and all that, if you learn how to bounce back. Or hit back, he’s not sure. But what’s there to bounce back from, what’s there to hit?
He started talking to me too suddenly, X tells me, that’s the problem. He plunged straight in, with no run-up, no time to prepare. Then it was sink or swim, with me on his back, and he couldn’t see where he’d plunged from, could hardly remember whether he’d plunged or been pushed.
I want to walk naked or in rags; I want to experience at least once the insipid flavour of the Host. To eat communion bread will be to taste the world’s indifference, and to immerse myself in nothingness. This will be my courage: to abandon comforting sentiments from the past.
But let us return to today. As is known, today is today. No one understands my meaning and I can obscurely hear mocking laughter with that rapid, edgy cackling of old men. I also hear measured footsteps on the road. I tremble with fear. Just as well that what I am about to write is already written deep inside me. I must reproduce myself with the delicacy of a white butterfly. This idea of the white butterfly stems from the feeling that, should the girl marry, she will marry looking as slender and ethereal as any virgin dressed in white. Perhaps she will not marry? To be frank, I am holding her destiny in my hands and yet am powerless to invent with any freedom: I follow a secret, fatal line. I am forced to seek a truth that transcends me. Why should I write about a young girl whose poverty is so evident? Perhaps because within her there is seclusion. Also because in her poverty of body and soul one touches sanctity and I long to feel the breath of life hereafter. In order to become greater than I am, for I am so little. I write because I have nothing better to do in this world: I am superfluous and last in the world of men. I write because I am desperate and weary. I can no longer bear the routine of my existence and, were it not for the constant novelty of writing, I should die symbolically each day. Yet I am prepared to leave quietly by the back door. I have experienced almost everything, even passion and despair. Now I only wish to possess what might have been but never was.
– Lispector, The Hour of the Star (tr. G. Pontiero)