Monthly Archives: March 2010

‘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)

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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

Words

Wonder or dream from distant land
I carried to my country’s strand

And waited till the twilight norn
Had found the name within her bourn—

Then I could grasp it close and strong
It blooms and shines now the front along…

Once I returned from happy sail,
I had a prize so rich and frail,

She sought for long and tidings told:
“No like of this these depths enfold.”

And straight it vanished from my hand,
The treasure never graced my land…

So I renounced and sadly see:
Where words break off no thing may be.

— Stefan George (tr. P. Hertz)

From Kafka’s diary

I was wise, if you like, because I was prepared for death at any moment, but not because I had taken care of everything that was given to me to do, rather because I had done none of it and could not even hope ever to do any of it.

*

Only not to overestimate what I have written, for in that way I make what is to be written unattainable.

— Kafka, Diaries (1912), tr. J Kresh