Monthly Archives: April 2011

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)


‘See here, my precious, see how I am organising for fear, see how I cannot touch those primary laboratory elements without immediately trying to put a hope together. So as of yet my inner metamorphosis makes no sense. In such a metamorphosis, I lose everything I have had, and what I have had has been myself – all that I have is what I am. And what am I now? I am: a standing in the presence of fear. I am: what I have seen. I don’t understand and I am afraid to understand, the matter of the world frightens me, with its planets and its cockroaches.’

— Lispector, The Passion According to G.H. (tr. Sousa)


Brod, who could lend a touch of kitsch to anything, described Kafka’s stay in Zürau as an ‘escape from the world into purity’. He also viewed it – he wrote to his friend – as a ‘successful and admirable enterprise’. It would be hard to find two adjectives that irritated Kafka more. He replied to Brod with a closely argued letter in which he explained that the only sensible solution he had ever reached in his life was ‘not suicide, but the thought of suicide’. If he didn’t go beyond the thought, it was due to a further reflection: ‘You who can’t manage to do anything, you want to do this?’ And here was his closest friend speaking to him of success, of admiration, of purity.

— Roberto Calasso, K. (tr. Brock)