Monthly Archives: October 2010

Experience is in the first place a struggle against the spell in which useful language holds us.

— Battaille (via here)



Death is what conceptual language represents negatively, like a hole, a void, but poetic speech can invert this, make it positive. […] Since thanks to poetry the world is closer, and its unity more perceptible, we feel more part of that unity – like the leaf of a tree, even if it falls off the branch, in an instant that is eternal. So what is death? But I have to add that all this is true only in theory. Poetry would be just that – transcending death – if it were not inaccessible; we can only try to approach it. That is why one should not call oneself a poet. It would be pretentious. It would mean that one has resolved the problems poetry presents. Poet is a word one can use when speaking of others, if one admires them sufficiently. If someone asks me what I do, I say I’m a critic, or a historian.

— Yves Bonnefoy (via here)

Rabbi Isaac Luria warned his pupils:

We do not have permission to reflect on reality before the emanation of the world, and we are not allowed to compare it in any way to known forms and images. We only speak in a parabolic manner to satisfy the need of comprehension, but a wise person will understand by himself that this does not reflect an actual representation of divine reality.

— Moses Jonah, in The Kabbalistic Tradition (ed. and tr. A Unterman)

The black page

Perhaps there is a kind of speech different to that which adds noise to the world. That subtracts silence from that noise, as you would draw with your finger on a condensated window.

To speak by subtraction – to let silence sound and speak thereby … is there a kind of writing that unwrites the written? A white writing, a writing blanched; or is it the other way round: a black page slipped beneath black ink?


I can see that my story lacks depth. I find it exhausting to have to describe things.

— Lispector, The Hour of the Star (tr. G. Pontiero)

No technique

Perhaps I could enhance this story if I were to introduce some difficult terms? But that is the problem: this story has no technique, even in matters of style. It has been written at random. Nothing would persuade me to contaminate with brilliant mendacious words a life as frugal as that of my typist. During the day, like everyone else, I make gestures that are unobserved even by me. One of my most unobserved gestures is this story, which comes out as it will, independent of me.

— Lispector, The Hour of the Star (tr. G. Pontiero)

Little to say

She could speak, of course, but had little to say. No sooner do I succeed in persuading her to speak than she slips through my fingers.
I get the impression that her life was one long meditation about nothingness.

— Lispector, The Hour of the Star (tr. G. Pontiero)

The opposite of God

To begin a fiction seems to me an act of great daring. What temerity – to write, and a fiction! The temerity of inventiveness! Perhaps I am like those who distrust fiction writers who would usurp the place of God. But then I remember that certain fictional works are more like a destruction than a creation: the world is pared down, ‘reduced’ as is said in phenomenology, and now in such a way that the author is the opposite of God.


Each in his own way

And so they all, each in his own way, reflectingly or unreflectingly, go on with their daily lives; everything seems to take its accustomed course, for indeed, even in desperate situations where everything hangs in the balance, one goes on living as though nothing were wrong.

— Goethe, Elective Affinities (quoted in Handke’s The Left-Handed Woman)

Dream 10

My screen starts to squirm and all the words I’ve written on it form cones that reach out to me. I fight them off and now I’m engaged in a violent struggle with my screen, my desk, my body and my chair.