Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bouncing back

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?

Sink or swim

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.

This will be my courage

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)

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)

Noise

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