Monthly Archives: July 2009

The existence of others

Like someone whose eyes, when lifted up after staring at a book for a long time, wince at the mere sight of a naturally bright sun, so too, when I lift my eyes from looking at myself, it hurts and stings me to see the vivid clarity and independence-from-me of the world outside, of the existence of others, of the position and correlation of movements in space. I stumble on the real feelings of others. The antagonism of their psyches towards mine shoves me and trips up my steps. I slide and tumble above and between the sounds of their strange words in my ears, the hard and definite falling of their feet on the actual floor, their motions that really exist, their various and complex ways of being persons who are not mere variants of my own.

— Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (trans. R. Zenith)

Better hope deferred than none

Deviser of the voice and of its hearer and of himself. Deviser of himself for company. Leave it at that. He speaks of himself as of another. He says speaking of himself, He speaks of himself as of another. Himself he devises too for company. Leave it at that. Confusion too is company up to a point. Better hope deferred than none. Up to a point. Till the heart starts to sicken. Company too up to a point. Better a sick heart than none. Till it starts to break. So speaking of himself he concludes for the time being, For the time being leave it at that.

— Beckett, from ‘Company’

Dialogue of the Ferryman and the River-Dweller

River-dweller: I cannot get to the other bank without your help. Ferryman, tell me of the other bank.

Ferryman: For me, it is the bank to get to, just like this one is when I am over there.

River-dweller: Is it like the banks of my childhood? It is so far I cannot tell form here.

Ferryman: What matter what the country is like if it excites your imagination. What matter what its banks are like. It is your country as long as you think of it, your banks.

River-dweller: I would like to know where this country begins and ends, if its vegetation is related to ours. The shape of its trees and rocks. I would like to know what happens there.

Ferryman: There is life, like here, and life in death. Like here, there is darkness in the light of the Name.

— Jabés, The Book of Questions (trans. R. Waldrop)

The dead twin

X tells me he thinks some malevolent spirit must have visited him in the womb, a bad ghost. I can feel it now, is it you? he asks me. Something went wrong somewhere, he says, probably as far back as the womb. You slipped out of the womb with me, didn’t you? he asks. Or maybe you slipped into the womb, grew with me, then slipped back out with me, he says. That’s why you’re still here, like a dead twin, he says, that’s why I can’t get rid of you.