Monthly Archives: July 2010


I’ve invented nothing. I’ve simply been the secretary of my sensations.

— Cioran

Was it really some other person I was so anxious to discover, when I did all of that looking, or was it only my own solitude that I could not abide?
Wandering through this endless nothingness. Once in a while, when I was not mad, I would turn poetic instead. I honestly did let myself think about things in such ways.
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me. For instance I thought about them like that, also.
In a manner of speaking, I thought about them like that.
Actually I underlined that sentence in a book, named the Pensées, when I was in college.
Doubtless I underlined the sentence about wandering through an endless nothingness in someone else’s book, as well.
The cat that Pintoricchio put into the painting of Penelope weaving may have been gray, I have a feeling.
Once, I had a dream of fame.
Generally, even then, I was lonely.
Later today I will possibly masturbate.

— David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress

Devils and angels

I know now that psychoanalysis would make sense for me only if I were really serious about the strange possibility of no longer writing, which during the completion of Malte I often dangled in front of my nose as a kind of relief. Then one might let one’s devils be exorcised, since in daily life they are truly just disturbing and painful. And if it happened that the angels left too, one would have to understand this as a further simplification and tell oneself that in the new profession (which?), there would certainly be no use for them.

— Rilke, letter to Lou Andreas-Salomé (tr. S. Mitchell)

What did I want?

‘So what did I want? I wanted to be in-between so I could be everywhere: neither outside nor inside, but stretched out between them until I broke open.’

Depths and wastes

‘I came from the depths, flopped onto the shore like a deep-sea creature. I came from far off, from the wastes, loped into the settlements like a starving animal. I wasn’t an exception, I wasn’t marked out for anything special, but I only understood people who’d come from the same depths and wastes. The others, almost all of them, seemed to speak a different language.’

Kafka quotes

In this love you are like a knife with which I explore myself. (Letter to Milena)

The true way is along a rope that is not spanned high in the air, but only just above the ground. It seems intended more to cause stumbling than to be walked upon.

The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual. That is why the revolutionary spiritual movements that declare all former things worthless are in the right, for nothing has yet happened.

One of the first signs of the beginnings of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will only in time come to hate.

A cage went in search of a bird.

Self-control is something for which I do not strive. Self-control means wanting to be effective at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence.

His weariness is that of the gladiator after the combat; his work was the whitewashing of a corner in a state official’s office.

Previously I did not understand why I got no answer to my question; today I do not understand how I could believe I was capable of asking. But I didn’t really believe, I only asked.

The way is infinitely long, nothing of it can be subtracted, nothing can be added, and yet everyone applies his own childish yardstick to it. ‘Certainly, this yard of the way you still have to go, too, and it will be accounted unto you.’

It is only our conception of time that makes us call the Last Judgment by this name. It is, in fact, a kind of martial law.

Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible in himself, though both the indestructible element and the trust may remain permanently hidden from him. One of the ways in which this hiddenness can express itself is through faith in a personal god.

In the struggle between yourself and the world, back the world.

One must not cheat anyone, not even the world of its victory.

Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness: believing in the indestructible element in oneself and not striving towards it.

Sensual love deceives one as to the nature of heavenly love; it could not do so alone, but since it unconsciously has the element of heavenly love within it, it can do so.

Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself; anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie.

A belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light.

Humility provides everyone, even him who despairs in solitude, with the strongest relationship to his fellow man, and this immediately, though, of course, only in the case of complete and permanent humility. It can do this because it is the true language of prayer, at once adoration and the firmest of unions. The relationship to one’s fellow man is the relationship of prayer, the relationship to oneself is the relationship of striving; it is from prayer that one draws the strength for one’s striving.

‘It cannot be said that we are lacking in faith. Even the simple fact of our life is of a faith-value that can never be exhausted.’ ‘You suggest there is some faith-value in this? One cannot not live, after all.’ ‘It is precisely in this “Cannot, after all” that the mad strength of faith lies; it is in this negation that it takes on form.’

The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.

Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.



‘Sometimes a small shift seemed to change everything like night to day. Some turn of direction or a modulation of frequencies. What was revealed then, what new view opened up? But it wasn’t quite a question of revelation, more like a possibility actuated and so trailing new possibilities behind it. I’d turn my head and see something I’d sensed all along, or it would see me. Those changes made a gentle mockery of me when I put myself in a position to receive them.’


Such inertia and void as never before. I remember an entry in Kafka’s diary. ‘Gardening. No hope for the future.’ At least he could garden. There must be words for it. I don’t expect ever to find them.

— Beckett, letter (in Knowlson, Damned to Fame)


‘I got busy for lack of anything else or better to do, because I had to. I still couldn’t read, so I started making plans. I picked a place to move to. I’d move to the other side of the country, from one coast to another. That would keep me busy until I’d have to make another plan. It was a question of having a plan and staying busy. I worked, and in between I started packing all my shit, gave some away, sold what I could, walked around with wads of cash in my pocket. I biked here and there, ran odd errands, called people, carried bags across town with sweat running down my head, bought train tickets, arranged viewings, took notes, made and remade lists, called more people, put things in piles, taped up boxes, stayed busy and moved the line forward every day. I flitted about on the outskirts of the hole, around my fear of the hole, my fear of nothing, which still pulled me into itself from to time. I took my pills, drank my wine and stayed busy. It was all about having a plan and keeping busy. I couldn’t think much beyond the next practical task, and that was how it had to be, I supposed, that was how people lived, how they got through life without topping themselves.’

The great event

It’s going to happen very soon. The great event which will end the horror. Which will end the sorrow. Next Tuesday, when the sun goes down, I will play the Moonlight Sonata backwards. This will reverse the effects of the world’s mad plunge into suffering for the last 200 million years. What a lovely night that will be. What a sigh of relief, as the senile robins become bright red again, and the retired nightingales pick up their dusty tails and assert the majesty of creation.

— Leonard Cohen, ‘The Great Event’