Monthly Archives: March 2009

A mug’s game

As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug’s game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: he may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.

— TS Eliot


Opus alienum

These odd, happy affirmations of estrangement, allegories of living. A hopeful opus alienum. Yet for all that kind of talk, one careless confrontation with the real — one wrong word at the wrong time, a wrong gesture at a crucial moment — and the allegories spiral into a kind of rhythmic madness, like a grisly kaleidoscope. But there’s always the light that illuminates the kaleidoscope, that brings it into being. The untouchable light.

By night

The point comes in the night when words are all we have left of each other; it doesn’t matter what we look like anymore. We fill each other’s glasses, taste each other’s drinks and laugh in between the roaring silences of each other’s words. We forget who said what. We get too drunk and walk home in the white noise, alone or together. We text each other to congratulate, commiserate, plead, accuse, sending to the wrong people. And we’re still to be, and still to come.


I wanted my daydream of you
To be as real as you are
(Wherever you are)
Because I too am a daydream
Of what I want to be

When we were blind

We started asking ourselves what might be built out of rubble while living in rubble. What we could shore against our ruins. What we could hope for while withdrawing from any real object of hope. How to laugh while depriving ourselves of any real object of laughter. How to die while living, to live the death-in-life we dreamed of. And love — how even begin to love? Was this our real work? We started telling ourselves it was, at least; that we were like Rilke’s bees of the invisible. Because what were our ten-hour days in the office and the warehouse compared to these soundings, these questions upon questions?

The new hope

Hope bespeaks the possibility of what escapes the realm of the possible; at the limit, it is relation recaptured where relation is lost. Hope is most profound when it withdraws from and deprives itself of all manifest hope. But at the same time we must not hope, as in a dream, for a chimerical fiction. It is against this that the new hope appoints itself. Hoping not for the probable, which cannot be the measure of what there is to be hoped for, and hoping not for the fiction of the unreal, true hope — the unhoped for of all hope — is an affirmation of the improbable and a wait for what is.

— Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation (trans. S. Hanson)

A living death

We were together only in our absence from each other, an absence into which we threw our beckoning voices like sirens. We knew what we wanted — we wanted what we didn’t know — and we worked hard at it. It was a tightrope walk. We walked towards each other, slowly at first, with great trepidation, then through each other to the other side. Over and over, more confident now. Turning, laughing. It was like dying, like a living, thrilling death. We stayed at the limits of each other with no possession nonsense, the one dying to and for the other. There were days when we were neither ourselves nor the other, yet both. Days when we walked through one another into the infinite. Until the world called us back to itself, and our voices resurfaced.