Monthly Archives: March 2012

Which one of us has never felt, walking through the twilight or writing down a date from his past, that he has lost something infinite?

– Borges (via here)

The miracle of the existence of the world

Now I am tempted to say that the right expression in language for the miracle of the existence of the world, though it is not any proposition *in* language, is the existence of language itself. But what then does it means to be aware of this miracle at some times and not at other times? For all I have said by shifting the expression of the miraculous from an expression *by means of language* to the expression *by the existence* of language, all I have said is again that we cannot express what we want to express and that all we *say* about the absolute miraculous remains nonsense.

– Wittgenstein, ‘A Lecture on Ethics’

The hills are unaware that we are watching them, he says. The trees. The insects. This is what is marvellous.

No one is watching us, he says. Nothing sees us.

But at other times, it frightens him, this ‘no one is watching us’. It’s as though not-watching itself is watching; as though the sky, which sees nothing, sees everything in that seeing-nothing.

We can have no secrets from the sky, he says. We are read by the sky.

– Lars Iyer, Wittgenstein Jr. 

It’s when I finished studying it, at the point where I stopped believing in philosophy, that I began to read Nietzsche. Well, I realised that he wasn’t a philosopher, but was more: a temperament. So, I read him, but never systematically, now and then. But I really don’t read him anymore. I consider his letters his most authentic work, because in them he’s truthful, while in his other work he’s prisoner to his vision. In his letters one sees that he’s just a poor fellow, that he’s ill, exactly the opposite of everything he claimed. [...] His work is an unspeakable megalomania. When one reads the letters he wrote at the same time, one sees that he’s lamentable, it’s very touching, like a character out of Chekhov.

– Cioran (via here)

I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.

– Camus, The Stranger (tr. Gilbert)

The great tornadoes of intuition

We have waited a long time for an artist who is brave enough, is at ease enough with the great tornadoes of intuition, to grasp that the break with the outside world entails the break with the inside world, that there are no replacement relations for naive relations, that what are called outside and inside are one and the same.

– Beckett on Bram van Velde (via here)

‘Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday’

He can imagine me as a boy, W. says, cycling out through the new housing estates, and through what remained of the woodland – muddy tracks along field-edges, fenced-in bridleways and overgrown footpaths. —‘You were looking for something’, he says. ‘You knew something was missing.’

He sees it in his mind’s eye: I’m carrying my bike over the railway bridge. I’m cycling through glades of tree stumps in the forestry plantations. I’m following private roads past posh schools and riding academies. I’m looking for barrows and ley lines, W. says. I’m looking for Celtic gods and gods of any kind.

And what do I find as I wheel my bike across the golf course? What, in the carpark of an out-of-town retail park? What, on the bench outside the supermarket, eating my discounted sandwiches? The everyday, W. says, which is to say, the opposite of the gods.

*

Religion is about this world, about the ordinary, the everyday, W. says, over our pints at The Queen’s Oak. Why does no one understand that? W. says. Why will no one listen?

But when it comes to the everyday itself, I am the expert, not him, W. says. Only I understand what it means to reach the depths, which is to say the surface, of the everyday.

It has to be felt, the everyday, W. is convinced of that. It has to have defeated you. Humiliated you. A man who hasn’t been brought to his knees by the everyday can have no understanding of the everyday, says W., aphoristically.

I’ve certainly been brought to my knees, W. says, that much is clear. I’ve spent whole years on my knees.

*

‘We are ferociously religious’, says W., quoting Bataille. Are we? —‘Oh yes’, W. says, ‘especially you. Especially you!’ That’s why he hangs out with me, w. says, he’s sure of it: my immense religious instinct, of which I am entirely unaware.

It’s all to do with my intimate relationship with the everyday, W. says. It’s to do with my years of unemployment and menial work, he says.

When he thinks of religion, he immediately thinks of me working in my warehouse, he says. He thinks of me in the warehouse with no hope in my life.

Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday, W. says. Only they can approach the everyday at its level. And only those who can approach the everyday in such a way are really religious, W. says.

– Lars Iyer, Dogma

Concentration

A foggy day, like a pause in time. A chill that gets under your clothes, under your skin. The rows of cabbage slope out of sight under the mist. A cow moans in the distance.

All this cant about the everyday… When what you really want is to escape the everyday, its endless tedium. To go home, play with your phone, drink beer, watch your friends’ TV.

You used to be able to concentrate, didn’t you? You used to be able to read a book to the end. The more distracted you get the heavier the everyday becomes, the less strength you have to face it.

The sun comes out, the mist lifts and little birds emerge from their places in the trees, hopping and tweeting. You take off your jumper and put it in your backpack.

You veer off the public footpaths, lose your way for a time in wild meadows, find the stream and try to get your bearings. A brief fear of straying from civilisation.

To see your life from the point of view of the everyday – to let the everyday live in you. Only then, perhaps, would these complaints and indignities stop. But that’s precisely what you fail to do every day, what you can’t but fail to do.

You hear road traffic and feel relieved.