In the whole of your absurd past you discover so much that’s absurd, so much deceit and credulity, that it might be a good idea to stop being young this minute, to wait for youth to break away from you and pass you by, to watch it going away, receding in the distance, to see all its vanity, run your hand through the empty space it has left behind, take a last look at it, and then start moving, make sure your youth has really gone, and then calmly, all by yourself, cross to the other side of Time to see what people and things really look like.
— Celine, Journey to the End of the Night (tr. Manheim)
I don’t know what time is. I don’t know what its real measure is, presuming it has one. I know that the clock’s measure is false, as it divides time spatially, from the outside. I know that our emotions’ way of measuring is just as false, dividing not time but our sensation of it. The way our dreams measure it is erroneous, for in dreams we only brush against time, now leisurely, now hurriedly, and what we live in them is fast or slow, depending on something in their flowing that I can’t grasp.
— Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (tr. Zenith)
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.
A grey day after a spell of sun. Dark heavy clouds, but the farmers talk of a drought, the rain won’t come.
Your daily two-hour walk along the public footpaths and farmers’ roads, between ditches and razed copses littered with shredded branches and shrubs. A bare tree here and there. You startle a deer. It jumps over the stumps, surprisingly bony and powerful: something quite different. The deer in turn scares a flock of crows that wheel cawing over the field.
A huge charred tree, split by lightning.
The desolation of the everyday. What else can the everyday be for you? The ruination of all plans. That which wipes out the path behind and in front of you.
At the edge of a field you come across a strange sight: a dead pigeon tied to the arm of a mechanical device, moving in a circle. ‘I’ll never shoot no pigeons with you standing there, mate.’ You whirl round and see a man with a shotgun, disguised behind the thicket. You say sorry and move on. Crossing private land as you make for the road, you hear a shot ring out.