Monthly Archives: May 2010

A dark sea

Waking in the morning, I would see the day ahead from behind closed like a dark sea, an infinite, irremissibly frozen sea.

Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night without even opening my eyes. I would keep them shut and put my hand on Edmondsson’s arm. I would ask her to console me. Softly, she would ask, Console you for what? Console me, I would say. But for what? she would say. Console me, I would say (console, not comfort).

‘But when I thought more deeply, and after I had found the cause for all our distress, I wanted to discover its reason. I found out there was a valid one, which consists in the natural distress of our weak and mortal condition, and so miserable that nothing can console us, when we think it over’ (Pascal, Pensées).

After my nap I would not get up at once. No, I preferred to wait. Sooner or later the force would come that would enable me to move without consciousness of my body, with the ease of gestures that have not been premeditated.

– Toussaint, The Bathroom (tr. N. Amphoux and P. de Angelis)


He drifts around the city, X tells me, from pub to pub, in search of a pub without music, trying to block out the conversations and the noises. He wonders if he feels sorry for himself. Is this what feeling sorry for yourself is? Meanwhile there’s the noise, he says, this noise, it’s unbearable! It bounces off him, he bounces off it, he’s all noise, nothing but noise. His ears hurt, his brain hurts, he can’t hear himself think. Is there anything in this city that doesn’t make a noise? Cars, lorries, birds, crying children and shouting women, creaking doors and creaking bikes, saws and jackhammers, stupid conversations and stupid music, above all stupid music, he says. Hell is other people’s music, he says. He can’t hear himself think for all the noise.

A lovely dream

To be the one looking in the mirror, X tells me, but to have no mirror and still be the one looking, to end up looking at nothing, to be nothing looking at itself. What a lovely dream! he says.

I don’t have fun

I don’t have fun. Actually, I had fun once. In 1962. I drank a whole bottle of Robitussin cough medicine and went in the back of a 1961 powder-blue Lincoln Continental to a James Brown concert with some Mexican friends of mine. I haven’t had fun since. It’s not a word I like. It’s like Volkswagens or bell-bottoms, or patchouli oil or bean sprouts. It rubs me up the wrong way. I might go out and have an educational and entertaining evening, but I don’t have fun.

– Tom Waits

I was beginning to sink into poverty

I was beginning to sink into poverty. Slowly, it was drawing circles around me; the first seemed to leave me everything, the last would leave me only myself. One day, I found myself confined in the city; travelling was no longer more than a fantasy.

I had no enemies. No one bothered me. Sometimes a vast solitude opened in my head and the entire world disappeared inside it, but came out again intact, without a scratch, with nothing missing.

– Blanchot, ‘The Madness of the Day’

In the mirror

I should never have started talking to you in the first place, X tells me, I should never have taken you into my confidence. Now I’m stuck, he says, like a face in a mirror, seen and unseeing, babbling away, demanding answers, demanding to see your face.

The haters of the night

Three hundred and sixty-five nights without daytimes, huge, massive, this is what I wish upon the haters of the night.

Early sun, I see you, but only where you no longer are.

– René Char, ‘In a Crude Mountain Shelter‘ (tr. S. Dubroff)

How to die

‘As if my words try to teach me how to die as I speak them. Or as if death tries to speak itself in me.’

The last lap

His race is almost run, X tells me, he’s on the last lap. He’s moving, but it’s as if he’s standing still. Moving, standing still, what does it matter, he says. The lap stretches out before me, I can just about glimpse the turn in the distance, always in the distance. It must go round itself, he says, in some kind of circle, but where does it start and end? Starting, ending, what does it matter, he says, all I know is this is the last lap, the race is almost run and I’m on my last legs, with the turn somewhere in the distance.

What had really terrified me

Sitting on the bed with my head in my hands (always these extreme postures), I told myself that the people were not afraid of the rain; some, coming out of the hairdresser’s, might want to avoid it, but no one was actually afraid it would never stop, would become a continuous downpour obliterating everything – annihilating everything. It was I who, standing in front of my window and misled by the dread inspired in me by the movements taking place before my eyes – rain, moving humans and automobiles – had suddenly felt afraid of the bad weather, when what had really terrified me, once again, was the passing of time itself.

– Toussaint, The Bathroom (tr. N. Amphoux and P. de Angelis)