Rabbi Isaac Luria warned his pupils:
We do not have permission to reflect on reality before the emanation of the world, and we are not allowed to compare it in any way to known forms and images. We only speak in a parabolic manner to satisfy the need of comprehension, but a wise person will understand by himself that this does not reflect an actual representation of divine reality.
– Moses Jonah, in The Kabbalistic Tradition (ed. and tr. A Unterman)
I can’t talk to nothing, so I talk to you. I can’t talk to what’s beyond you, so I talk to you. I’ve often thought of you as my god. I like to think I can talk to you, though you break up my voice. But isn’t that what makes the prayer to what’s beyond you possible? Isn’t that how we can both learn to speak in silence?
All they have to do is watch and listen, says X. Maybe make the odd note on us. They don’t even have to turn up, all they really need to do is watch and we’re stuck. We have no answer to that, no answer at all. Or maybe you have an answer? A secret weapon. No? No. We’re stuck, he says, they’ve got us by the balls.
X is looking out at the dark sea through the pub’s rain-spattered window. A chill air comes through the frame. Horror, he mumbles, nothing but horror, like in the old days. It never goes away, he says, we just learn to ignore it. We blur it with our pints and pills. He turns to me. When will you kill me? You were going to not so long ago, remember? But you lost your nerve like you always do. Well I’m still here. When will you do it?
You’re right, I tell X, there are three of us here, in this triangle. But it’s a strange triangle, with shifting angles. Three of us, I say, and our words like pinballs bouncing off the sides. Three of us, and who else can break in? Sometimes it opens, doesn’t it? I say. In fleeting moments.
I can see that my story lacks depth. I find it exhausting to have to describe things.
– Lispector, The Hour of the Star (tr. G. Pontiero)
What troubles my existence is speaking, having to speak. Then at least let me speak from within speaking, from within your speech, disillusioned. Illusion? To think I can bypass you in whatever errand of speech. To think I’m as strong as speech and therefore at liberty to distort it in my favour. Or rather, not to see that I can’t help distorting it. Not to see that speech is my open wound. That he who speaks is incomplete.
I came out of nowhere, X tells me, like some Kaspar Hauser with a private language of grunts. And you listened, even though I could hardly say anything. So I guess I love you, I guess I must. And me, I say, how do you think I feel? I only did it because I had to, because you wouldn’t go away. I should have left you to it but it was already far too late. Anyway we were both so young, I say. I still grieve for myself in those days, even for you, even for the days themselves. Are you drunk or something? he says.
I’m making something out of paste, my hands themselves turn into paste and something is making me out of paste.