Monthly Archives: May 2008

After the earthquake

I recall the furtive languor with which we dressed and silent as accomplices made our way down the gloomy staircase into the street. We did not dare to link arms, but our hands kept meeting involuntarily as we walked, as if they had not shaken of the spell of the afternoon and could not bear to be separated. We parted speechlessly too, in the little square with its dying trees burnt to the colour of toffee by the sun; parted with only one look – as if we wished to take up emplacements in each other’s mind forever.

It was as if the whole city had crashed about my ears; I walked about in it as aimlessly as survivors must walk about the streets of their native city after an earthquake, amazed to find how much that had been familiar was changed. I felt in some curious way deafened and remember nothing more except that much later I ran into Pursewarden and Pombal in a bar. And when Pombal said: ‘You are abstracted this evening. What is the matter?’ I felt like answering him in the words of the dying Amr: ‘I feel as if heaven lay close upon the earth and I between them both, breathing through the eye of a needle.’

— Lawrence Durrell, Alexandria Quartet

Ring the bells that still can ring

That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is. “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution or perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.

— Leonard Cohen on the meaning of ‘Anthem’, from Diamonds in the Line