Monthly Archives: October 2010

Beckett in the nursing home

Many of Beckett’s friends were horrified to see how simply he was living and felt that he could and should enjoy more comfort and more luxury. By this time productions of his plays throughout the world had made him into a rich man and he could certainly have afforded the most expensive nursing home or private nursing care. Yet the room reflected the austerity with which he had always lived. And it was by no means sordid. He was comfortable there. He had no need for luxury, he protested. The staff were very kind, looking after his welfare and carrying his meals through to his room, because he found it too depressing to eat with the other old people.

— Knowlson, Damned to Fame

The higher circle

The higher circle, to which K. would like to gain access, where indeed he would like to take up residence, since he has ‘come here to stay’, is certainly not the home of the good, as benevolent interpreters say, nor is it the home of evil, as malevolent interpreters say; rather, it is the site where good and evil arrange themselves into shapes that can’t be recognised or distinguished by those who have encountered them only in other circles. The ancient Chinese would not be surprised by this; they would say that they are the two elements united in the Holy Place. But who nowadays is able to reason like the ancient Chinese?

— Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. G. Brock)

God is without name, for no one can say or understand anything of him… Hence if I say: ‘God is good’, this is not true. I am good, but God is not good… If I say further: ‘God is wise’, this is not true, I am wiser than he. If I say also: ‘God is a being’, this is not true; he is a being above being and a superessential negation. A master says: If I had a God whom I could know, I would not think him to be God.

– Master Eckhart

Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out.

The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs—
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down.

Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

— Richard Hugo (via here)

Good morning blues

Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
I’m doing all right, good morning how are you?

I lay down last night, turning from side to side
Oh, turning from side to side
I was not sick, but I was dissatisfied.

I got up this morning with the blues walking round my bed
Oh, with the blues walking round my bed
I went to eat my breakfast, the blues was in my bread.



Do not think that because I call it a ‘darkness’ or a ‘cloud’ it is the sort of cloud you see in the sky, or the kind of darkness you know at home when the light is out. That kind of darkness or cloud you can picture in your mind’s eye in the height of summer, just as in the depth of a winter’s night you can picture a clear and shining light. I do not mean this at all. By ‘darkness’ I mean ‘a lack of knowing’ – just as anything that you do not know or may have forgotten may be said to be ‘dark’ to you, for you cannot see it with your inward eye. For this reason it is called ‘a cloud’, not of the sky, of course, but ‘of unknowing’, a cloud of unknowing between you and your God.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Outisde and inside

From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true.

— Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks (tr. E. Kaiser and E. Wilkins)

A sunray of bliss.

— Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks (tr. E. Kaiser and E. Wilkins)

The open window

‘What is it? What is it?’ I exclaimed, still held down in bed by sleep, and stretched my arms upwards. Then I got up, still far from being conscious of the present, and with the feeling that I must thrust aside various people who were in my way, made the necessary gestures, and so at last reached the open window.

— Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks (tr. E. Kaiser and E. Wilkins)