Monthly Archives: March 2010

‘I was waiting’

My room was bright. Filled with sunshine. I made it a strict rule with myself to take a trip to the bathroom, wash up, and shave every day. On cloudy days, however, I still washed but I didn’t shave. After I had finished, I made my way along the tiny path that I had created between the piles of food and stacks of bottles, and lay down again. I made my bed, swept up a bit. I opened the door to my room to put out the dirty linen and pick up the clean. All that took a great deal of time and effort, and made me feel tired enough to feel fully justified in once again taking to my bed, from which I could see the sky or the ceiling. I was waiting. For what I didn’t know. But an active, pulsing wait. I tried to read signs from heaven, and when cottony clouds would pass by, mixing with the blue, I tried to fathom what it might mean. I wasn’t unhappy, the way I once had been. Was it age that had made me wiser, or had age merely blunted the forces that had stirred and struggled within me? I don’t want to give the mistaken impression that I was happy, either.

— Ionesco, The Hermit (tr. R. Seaver)

Her personal night

All that which Anne still loved, silence and solitude, were called night. All that which Anne hated, silence and solitude, were also called night. Absolute night where there were no longer any contradictory terms, where those who suffered were happy, where white found a common substance with black. And yet, night without confusion, without monsters, before which, without closing her eyes, she found her personal night, the one which her eyelids habitually created for her as they closed. Fully conscious, full of clarity, she felt her night join the night. She discovered herself in this huge exterior night in the core of her being, no longer needing to pass before a bitter and tormented soul to arrive at peace. She was sick, but how good this sickness was, this sickness which was not her own and which was the health of the world!

— Blanchot, Thomas the Obscure (tr. R. Lamberton)

The world or what we term the world, that medium in which we find ourselves, and indeed whatever of it we set apart and term selves, is not related to what we make of it and not dependent on what we make of the world or make of ourselves. It is not in the least altered, nor is our basic nature altered, by any cosmology or culture or individual character we may devise, or by the failure or destruction of any of these, as all of them fail. If they seem for a time to succeed, they blind us as though they were real; and it is by our most drastic failures that we may perhaps catch glimpses of something real, of something which is. It merits our whole mind. The good society and the good life are more than we could imagine. To devise them or to assert and defend their devising is not the point.

— William Bronk, via However Fallible

He perceived all the strangeness there was in being observed by a word as if by a living being, and not simply by one word, but by all the words that were contained in that word, by all those that went with it and in turn contained other words, like a procession of angels opening out into the infinite to the very eye of the absolute.

— Blanchot, Thomas the Obscure (tr. R. Lamberton)

Around his body, he knew that his thought, mingled with the night, kept watch.

— Blanchot, Thomas the Obscure (tr. R. Lamberton)

If a hand, a situation, a wave were ever to raise me up and carry me to where I could command power and influence, I would destroy the circumstances that had favoured me, and I would hurl myself down into the humble, speechless, insignificant darkness. I can only breathe in the lower regions.

— Walser, Institute Benjamenta/Jakob von Gunten (tr. C. Middleton)

As mystery, the word remains remote. As a mystery that is experienced, the remoteness is near.


His renunciation having pledged itself to the world’s mystery, the poet retains the treasure in remembrance by renunciation. In this way, the treasure becomes that which the poet – he who says – prefers above all else and reveres above all else. The treasure becomes what is truly worthy of the poet’s thought. For what could be more worthy of thought for the saying one than the world’s being veiling itself, than the fading word for the word?

— Heidegger, On the Way to Language (tr. J. Stambaugh)

‘I don’t sleep’

First it’s a sound that makes another sound, in the nocturnal hollow of things. Then it’s a low howl, accompanied by the creaking of the street’s swaying signboards. And then the voice of space becomes a shout, a roar, and everything shudders, nothing sways, and there’s silence in the dread of all this, like a speechless dread that sees another dread when the first one has passed.

Then there’s nothing but wind, just wind, and I sleepily notice how the doors shake in their frames and how the glass in the windows loudly resists.

I don’t sleep. I interexist. A few vestiges of consciousness persist. I feel the weight of slumber but not of unconsciousness. I don’t exist. The wind… I wake up and go back to sleep without yet having slept. There’s a landscape of loud and indistinct sound beyond which I’m a stranger to myself. I cautiously delight in the possibility of sleeping. I really do sleep, but don’t know if I’m sleeping. In what seems to me like a slumber there is always a sound of the end of all things, the wind in the darkness, and, if I listen closely, the sound of my own lungs and heart.

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

Not to write — what a long way there is to go before arriving at that point.

— Blanchot (via This Space)

An indictment

…enormous prison, like a hundred thousand cathedrals, never anything else any more, from this time forth, and in it, somewhere, perhaps, riveted, tiny, the prisoner, how can he be found, how false this space is, what falseness instantly … it’s like a confession, a last confession, you think it’s finished, then it starts off again, there were so many sins, the memory is so bad, the words don’t come, the words fail, the breath fails, no, it’s something else, it’s an indictment, a dying voice accusing, accusing me, you must accuse someone, a culprit is indispensable, it speaks of my sins, it speaks of my head, it says its mine…

— Beckett, The Unnamable