Monthly Archives: December 2009

Montaigne on death

Where death waits for us is uncertain; let us look for him everywhere. The premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learned to die has unlearned to serve. There is nothing evil in life for him who rightly comprehends that the privation of life is no evil: to know, how to die delivers us from all subjection and constraint.
And as the Egyptians after their feasts were wont to present the company with a great image of death, by one that cried out to them, ‘Drink and be merry, for such shalt thou be when thou art dead’; so it is my custom to have death not only in my imagination, but continually in my mouth.
All the whole time you live, you purloin from life and live at the expense of life itself. The perpetual work of your life is but to lay the foundation of death. You are in death, whilst you are in life, because you still are after death, when you are no more alive; or, if you had rather have it so, you are dead after life, but dying all the while you live; and death handles the dying much more rudely than the dead, and more sensibly and essentially.

— Montaigne, ‘That to Study Philosophy is to Learn to Die‘ (tr. C. Cotton)

My endless end

‘You’re my death and my chance to live. I can’t go back to a time before you, or forward to a time after you. Mirthless laughter. You’re my endless end, my very life.’

A woman’s voice

She wants him to remind her what she said just now when she woke up. She sometimes speaks when she’s still half-asleep, and then when she’s fully awake can’t remember what she said. But this time she recalls quite clearly a woman’s voice similar to her own, and some complicated, painful words torn out of her own flesh, words which she hadn’t quite understood and which made her cry.

— Marguerite Duras, Blue Eyes, Black Hair (tr. B. Bray)

And wonder what I’ve said

‘You disorient me, but what do I know? I speak, I shape and scatter you like clouds in the wind, look around stupidly and wonder what I’ve said.’


‘You take me to where I wasn’t, where I’m not and where I won’t be, joyfully.’


‘I talk to you, turn away, turn back and away again, admit I can’t dispense with you. I ask if you can dispense with me and laughter rises from mouths, mountains, trees and lakes…’


‘It’s in the failure of my words that you reveal yourself – but this is wrong. It’s in the failure to name and the failure to name the failure to name that you reveal yourself – wrong again. I backtrack into my own backtracking and have to laugh; you unsay yourself from inside yourself, from inside me.’