Monthly Archives: July 2010


‘Some days there seemed no choice, no other way of hiding. I had to get drunk, drunk to the point of oblivion, get drunk and pass out, hide in drunkenness and sleep. I’d get up, start drinking, eat, and go to bed. I’d get up, drink more, eat more, and go to bed. They were strange dissolute days, coloured by bad dreams, those dreamlike days I could never quite escape from. Someone came to visit and I was drunk and tried not to show it. He looked at me and his look decided something about me I could barely sense in myself. Later I walked around the streets looking in at the tidy flats and felt like a bum. Exposed.’

Bad dreams

‘Then I started having bad dreams in which I was treated unfairly. Dreams in which people saw through me and stole from me and I couldn’t take charge. Old friends returned as enemies. Women gave themselves to rivals. Parties turned into trials. They were nothing new, these dreams, just more frequent and more insistent. I’d wake up scowling and have to spend time trying to think things out, time I should have spent working. It was as if the old troubles the pills had pushed under the surface (I’d felt them stirring under the surface all along) were returning by way of my dreams, in the classic way.’

Waiting for the Miracle

I don’t believe you’d like it,
You wouldn’t like it here.
There ain’t no entertainment
and the judgements are severe.
The Maestro says it’s Mozart
but it sounds like bubble gum
when you’re waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

Waiting for the miracle
There’s nothing left to do.
I haven’t been this happy
since the end of World War II.

Nothing left to do
when you know that you’ve been taken.
Nothing left to do
when you’re begging for a crumb
Nothing left to do
when you’ve got to go on waiting
waiting for the miracle to come.
When you’ve fallen on the highway
and you’re lying in the rain,
and they ask you how you’re doing
of course you’ll say you can’t complain –
If you’re squeezed for information,
that’s when you’ve got to play it dumb:
You just say you’re out there waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

– Leonard Cohen, from ‘Waiting for the Miracle’

Just about

‘I was just about able to go on. What did this “just about” amount to? An infinity, far beyond my comprehension, like a child’s first word.’

Despite myself

‘I appeared: where did I appear? In my refusal to appear. I lived: how did I live? In my inability to live, but also in my expression of my inability to live. I lived despite myself, in a kind of doubling. I’d both lost and gained, I was neither here nor there. I lived on without myself, laughing. But with whose laughter?’

I have never understood how it is possible for almost anyone who writes to objectify his sufferings in the very midst of suffering them; thus I, for example, in the midst of my unhappiness – my head, say, still on fire with unhappiness – sit down and write to someone: I am unhappy. Yes, I can even go beyond that and with the various flourishes I might have talent for, all of which seem to have nothing to do with my unhappiness, ring simple, or contrapuntal or a whole orchestration of changes on my theme. And it is not a lie, and it does not still my pain, it is simply a merciful surplus of strength at a moment when suffering has raked me to the bottom of my being and plainly exhausted all my strength. But then what kind of strength is it?

– Kafka, Diary (via Spurious)

A strange country

Then as K. still lay absorbed in thought, she started up and began to tug at him like a child: ‘Come on, it’s too close down here’, and they embraced each other, her little body burned in K.’s hands, in a state of unconsciousness which K. tried again and again but in vain to master as they rolled a little way, landing with a thud on Klamm’s door, where they lay among the small puddles of beer and other refuse gathered on the floor. There, hours went past, hours in which they breathed as one, in which their hearts beat as one, hours in which K. was haunted by the feeling that he was losing himself or wandering into a strange country, father than ever man had wandered before, a country so strange that not even the air had anything in common with his native air, where one might die of strangeness, and yet whose enchantment was such that one could only go on and lose oneself further. 

– Kafka, The Castle (tr. W. and E. Muir)

I wouldn’t call myself a religious man. I don’t believe in any version of God that I can come up with. Sometimes a deep appetite for prayer arises, and I pray. Where my prayer is addressed, I would not dare to say. I would not dare to try to describe where my prayer is aimed. Any opinion about this matter that I’ve ever come up with I have very little respect for. I have little respect for most of my opinions, but this one I have no respect for.

Leonard Cohen

As the world becomes more and more baffling and bewildering, one is thrown back on one’s own shabby little story. [The Book of Longing] is just my little story.

Leonard Cohen

True art can issue only from a purely anonymous centre.

– Rilke, letter