Monthly Archives: July 2008

In the haze your image

In the haze your image
Trembled; it troubled
And eluded me: mistakenly
I said, ‘Good God!’

The name of the Lord — a large bird —
Flew from my breast.
In front: a swirl of mist.
Behind: the empty cage.

— Osip Mandelshtam

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In broken images

He is quick, thinking in clear images;
I am slow, thinking in broken images.

He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images;
I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images.

Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance;
Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance.

Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact;
Questioning their relevance, I question the fact.

When the fact fails him, he questions his senses;
When the fact fails me, I approve my senses.

He continues quick and dull in his clear images;
I continue slow and sharp in my broken images.

He in a new confusion of his understanding;
I in a new understanding of my confusion.

— Robert Graves

Sleep

You can tell a lot about a person from how they sleep: how hard or easy it is for them, where they can sleep, what they look like when they sleep, how they wake up. I never told you the thoughts I had when, after we’d made love, unable to sleep as I knew I would be in that unfamiliar room, with this still unfamiliar woman beside me, I looked at you sleeping so prettily, your mouth slightly open, your face trusting sleep.

Against the facts

If we look at a person, we are bound in a short space of time to say what a horrible, what an unbearable person. If we look at Nature, we are bound to say, what a horrible what an unbearable Nature. If we look at something artificial — it doesn’t matter what the artificiality is — we are bound to say in a short space of time what an unbearable artificiality. If we are out walking, we even say after the shortest space of time, what an unbearable walk, just as when we are running we say what an unbearable run, just as when we are standing still, what an unbearable standing still, just as when we are thinking what an unbearable process of thinking. If we meet someone, we think within the shortest space of time, what an unbearable meeting. If we go on a journey, we say to ourselves, after the shortest space of time, what an unbearable journey, what unbearable weather, we say, says Oehler, no matter what the weather is like, if we think about any sort of weather at all. If our intellect is keen, if our thinking is the most ruthless and the most lucid, says Oehler, we are bound after the shortest space of time to say of everything that it is unbearable and horrible. There is no doubt that the art lies in bearing what is unbearable and in not feeling that what is horrible is something horrible. Of course we have to label this art the most difficult of all. The art of existing against the facts, says Oehler, is the most difficult, the art that is the most difficult.

Thomas Berhard

Wisdom on campus

Nervously, and without any real need whatever, Franny pushed back her hair with one hand. ‘I don’t think it would have all got me quite so down if just once in a while — just once in a while — there was at least some polite little perfunctory implication that knowledge should lead to wisdom, and that if it doesn’t, it’s just a disgusting waste of time! But there never is! You never even hear any hints dropped on a campus that that wisdom is supposed to be the goal of knowledge. You hardly ever even hear the word “wisdom” mentioned! Do you want to hear something funny? Do you want to hear something really funny? In almost four years of college — and this is the absolute truth — in almost four years of college, the only time I can remember ever even hearing the expression “wise man” being used was in my freshman year, in Political Science! And do you know how it was used? It was used in reference to some nice old poopy elder statesman who’d made a fortune in the stock market and gone to Washington to be an adviser to President Roosevelt. Honestly, now! Four years of college, almost! I’m not saying that happens to everybody, but I just get so upset when I think about it I could die.’

— J.D Salinger, Franny and Zooey