Monthly Archives: December 2009

Nothing that is not false

Decidedly this evening I shall say nothing that is not false, I mean nothing that is not calculated to leave me in doubt as to my real intentions.

— Beckett, Malone Dies

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A certain longing

I am touching the house in which I was born, but my hand passes through the place, leaving a residue of fog where the house was. This is the place where I was born. A certain longing was conceived here. Muffled and croaking, it finds its expression in the body of the nostalgic. I am here, and my hand passed through the white wall, reaching into a lacuna in space, but comprised from the boundary of my hand. It is as though something outside of this place exceeds the material presence I face, as though this place resists the very act of being touched.

Dylan Trigg

The new day at last

For it if was really day again already, in some low distant quarter of the sky, it was not yet day again already in the kitchen. But that would come, Watt knew that would come, with patience it would come, little by little, whether he liked it or not, over the yard wall, and through the window, first the grey, then the brighter colours one by one, until getting on to nine a.m. all the gold and white and blue would fill the kitchen, all the unsoiled light of the new day, of the new day at last, the day without precedent at last.

— Beckett, Watt (quoted here)

Fragments of Heraclites

(a). Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.

1. Although this Logos is eternally valid, yet men are unable to understand it – not only before hearing it, but even after they have heard it for the first time. That is to say, although all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos, men seem to be quite without any experience of it […]

6. The sun is new each day.

16. How can anyone hide from that which never sets?

17. Most people do not take heed of the things they encounter, nor do they grasp them even when they have learned about them, although they think they do.

21. Whatever we see when awake is death; when asleep, dreams.

22. Seekers after gold dig up much earth and find little.

34. Fools, although they hear, are like the deaf: to them the adage applies that when present they are absent.

45. You could not discover the limits of soul, even if you traveled by every path in order to do so; such is the depth of its meaning.

47. Let us not make arbitrary conjectures about the greatest matters.

49a. Into the same rivers we step and do not step.

59. For the wool-carders the straight and the winding way are one and the same.

60. The way up and the way down are one and the same.

62. Immortals become mortals, mortals become immortals; they live in each other’s death and die in each other’s life.

72. Although intimately connected with the Logos, men keep setting themselves against it.

75. Even sleepers are workers and collaborators in what goes on in the universe.

84a. It is in changing that things find repose.

88. It is one and the same thing to be living and dead, awake or asleep, young or old. The former aspect in each case becomes the latter, and the latter becomes the former, by sudden unexpected reversal.

91. It throws apart and then brings together again; it advances and retires.

Heraclites

In the evening

In the evening they tramped out across a field trying to find a place where their fire would not be seen. Dragging the cart behind them over the ground. So little of promise in that country. Tomorrow they would find something to eat. Night overtook them on a muddy road. They crossed into a field and plodded on toward a distant stand of trees skylighted stark and black against the last of the visible world. By the time they got there it was dark of night. He held the boy’s hand and kicked up limbs and brush and got a fire going. The wood was damp but he shaved the dead bark off with his knife and he stacked brush and sticks all about to dry in the heat. Then he spread the sheet of plastic on the ground and got the coats and blankets from the cart and he took off their damp and muddy shoes and they sat there in silence with their hands outheld to the flames. He tried to think of something to say but he could not. He’d had this feeling before, beyond the numbness and the dull despair. The world shrinking down about a raw core of parsible entities. The names of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the names of things one believed to be true. More fragile than he would have thought. How much was gone already? The sacred idiom shorn of its referents and so of its reality. Drawing down like something trying to preserve heat. In time to wink out forever.

— Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Fears

I am lying in my bed five flights up, and my day, which nothing interrupts, is like a clock-face without hands. As something that has been lost for a long time reappears one morning in its old place, safe and sound, almost newer than when it vanished, just as if someone had been taking care of it–: so, here and there on my blanket, lost feelings out of my childhood lie and are like new. All the lost fears are there again.
[…]
I prayed to rediscover my childhood, and it has come back, and I feel that it is just as difficult as it used to be, and that growing older has served no purpose at all.

— Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (tr. S. Mitchell)

In broad daylight

The work is no longer innocent; it knows whence it comes. Or at least it knows how to seek, and in this seeking how to approach always nearer to the origin, and in this approach how to keep without fail to the path where possibility is gambled, where the risk is essential and failure threatens. This is what the work seems to ask, this is where it pushes the artist: away from itself and from its own realisation. This experience has become so grave that the artist pursues it endlessly. Despairing of success yet at the same time concerned for the essential, he produces this experience in the broad daylight. He seeks to express it directly or, in other words, to make of the work a road toward inspiration – that which protects and preserves the purity of inspiration – and not of inspiration a road toward the work.

— Blanchot, The Space of Literature (tr. A. Smock)