Monthly Archives: April 2011


People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen to you in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television — you don’t feel anything.

— Warhol

Not the beginning

You fell out of life. As if you’d stepped into a mirror and the world was now out there. All it took was one step. But sometimes one step is enough to find yourself back in life. A single step, sometimes that can cover more ground than a lifetime of thought.

When did you fall out of life? Let’s go over it again. This time I’ll talk, it might help. It’ll interest no one, don’t worry. Let’s try to remember, like a drunk trying to remember the night’s events to himself before he falls sleep. I want to think about the year it all went wrong.

There was a disused farm, but that isn’t the beginning. I can’t start at the beginning either. There was a pebble courtyard and a house with a solid brown door. Red barn doors and white flaking walls with windows full of spider webs. Interesting musty smells in the empty cow house, pig house, corn sluice, in the shed full of rusty machinery. The haylofts had been left as they were, the feral cats who made their home there were still being fed.

I turned you against yourself.

You walked beside yourself, beside me, that was your life, wasn’t it? Towards night buses in the country dark and train stations where you stood smoking cigarettes you didn’t want. Why are those the moments I remember tonight? Elsinore train station on Sunday nights. Sitting waiting in the dark: it seemed you were always waiting, just as I was waiting. Perhaps we were waiting for each other, from a long time apart, but a time that may not be as long as you think. The dark train station that smelled of piss, the piss of Swedes who took the ferry across the Sound to buy alcohol. The Swedes who were always dragging trolleys loaded with beer and spirits.

One step, sometimes that all it takes, that’s all I want to say tonight.

Now my mind’s eye sweeps across Elsinore, that beautiful cold city, across the harbour, across the cobblestone streets filled with the liquor shops, across the castle itself, its canons, its breakwaters made of black granite blocks, across the Sound to the coast beyond. What was in your head when you sat on the bench every weekend, on your way back from your grandparents’ farm? What in your empty head, that hadn’t started to read, that had hardly started to think? Wasn’t I in the process of being born then, in some obscure region of your mind? Perhaps these words themselves were already being born then, on those nights.

You may think I malformed you, that I was the one who pulled you out of life, into the mirror. You may be right.

Wake up from your slumber, your mirrored dreams. Help me pull you back.

I’ve lived so little that I tend to imagine I’m not going to die; it seems improbable that human existence can be reduced to so little; one imagines, in spite of oneself, that sooner or later something is bound to happen. A big mistake. A life can just as well be both empty and short. The days slip by indifferently, leaving neither trace nor memory; and then all of a sudden they stop.

At times, too, I’ve had the impression that I’d manage to feel quite at home in a life of vacuity. That the relatively painless boredom would enable me to go on making the usual gestures of life. Another big mistake. Prolonged boredom is not tenable as a position: sooner or later it is transformed into feelings that are acutely more painful, of true pain; this is precisely what’s happening to me.

– Michel Houellebecq, Whatever (tr. Hammond)

My education

I have been suffering from paralyzing depressions. Sometimes I seriously ask myself how someone can feel this bad and live. Often I simply collapse in ed. I mean bed, of course… come to think of it, never had a lover named Ed. This is not some superattenuated, arcane, exclusive depression known only to the chosen and distinguished few. It is a realization of the raw horror of the human position at this point.

— Burroughs, My Education: A Book of Dreams

I bring people like me here

A stalker must not enter the room. A stalker must not enter the Zone with an ulterior motive. Yes, you’re right, I’m a louse. I haven’t done any good in this world, and I can’t do any. I couldn’t give anything even to my wife. I can’t have any friends either. But don’t take from me what’s mine! They’ve already taken everything from me back there, behind the barbed wire. So all that’s mine is here. You understand? Here! In the Zone! My happiness, my freedom, my self-respect, it’s all here! I bring people like me here, desperate and tormented. People who have nothing else to hope for.

— Tarkovsky, Stalker


Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from.

David Foster Wallace

It used to be possible

It used to be possible to say: we cannot know God but he has made himself known to us, and at that point analogies from the world of personal relations would enter the scene and help us. But somehow, the situation has deteriorated; as before, we cannot know, but now it seems that he does not make himself known, even as enemy.

— Altizer & Hamilton, Radical Theology and the Death of God

In the dark

To be human is to be amongst those whose thoughts we don’t know; to be in the dark. Perhaps this condition is the source of our urge to speak. Language, born of absence, filling a lack, generating light. To be human is to be alone, and also to know that we are in thrall to thoughts we call our own, yet are barely aware of. Perhaps this very unknowingness is the source of writing. Writing from out of a void, to fill a void. Both speaking and writing, then, veil ignorance of ourselves and of others even as they display it, even as they ameliorate it.

Mark Thwaite

Running short

‘Do you know what I really think?’ he blurts, ‘my own opinion? I think time is running short. I think time is running short. I think there are forces of evil in the world. I think that global capitalism is just, like, one inch away from being everywhere. I think now is not the time to be frittering away playing in a silly-assed post-rock band. I think everything you do in the face of this is inadequate.’ Everything? ‘Yeah!’ he exclaims. ‘Which is good, it’s all good, it’s good to make feeble attempts, right? I think that’s what they are. It’s like throwing yourself up against a big fucking wall and the wall is just getting bigger and bigger…’

Efrim Menuck

But at the same time, a death that results in being represents an absurd insanity, the curse of existence—which contains within itself both death and being and is neither being nor death. Death ends in being: this is man’s hope and his task, because nothingness itself helps to make the world, nothingness is the creator of the world in man as he works and understands. Death ends in being: this is man’s laceration, the source of his unhappy fate, since by man death comes to being and by man meaning rests on nothingness.

— Blanchot, ‘Literature and the Right to Death’ (tr. Davis)