It must finally become serious. I’ve often been lonely, but I’ve never lived alone. When I was with someone I was often happy, but at the same time it all seemed left to chance. These people were my parents, but they could just as well have been others. Why was this brown-eyed boy my brother and not the green-eyed boy on the opposite platform? The taxi driver’s daughter was my friend, but I might as well have put my arm round a horse’s neck. I was with a man, I was in love and I might as well have left him there and gone off with the stranger I met in the street. Look at me, or don’t. Give me your hand, or don’t. No, don’t give me your hand, look away. I think there’s a new moon tonight. No night more peaceful. No bloodshed anywhere in the city. I’ve never played games with anyone, and yet I’ve never opened my eyes and thought: now it’s serious. At last it’s getting serious. So I’ve grown older. Was I the only one who wasn’t serious? Is it our times that aren’t serious? I was never alone, either when I was on my own or with others. But I would have liked to have been alone at last. To be alone means: I’m whole at last. Now I can say it: tonight I’m alone at last. I must put an end to coincidence. The new moon of decision. I don’t know if there’s such as thing as destiny, but there is such a thing as a decision. Decide! Now we are the times. Not only the whole town, but the whole world is taking part in our decision. We are now more than the two of us. We incarnate something. We’re sitting in the People’s Square and it’s full of people who are dreaming the same dream. We’re deciding the game for everyone. I’m ready. Now it’s your turn. You hold the game in your hand. Now or never. You need me. You will need me. There’s no greater story than ours, that of man and woman. It will be a story of giants, invisible, transposable, a story of new ancestors. Look, my eyes, they are the image of necessity, of the future of everyone in the Square. Last night I dreamt of a stranger, of my man. Only with him could I be alone, open up to him, completely open for him, welcome him completely into me, surround him with the labyrinth of shared happiness. I know you’re that man.
— Handke, Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire
I have to have a mental picture, an image, to start. I never reach this image, but it’s good to begin with it.
Form is all we have to help us cope with fundamentally chaotic facts and assaults. Formulating something is a great start. I trust form, trust my feeling or capacity to find the right form for something. Even if that is only by being well organized. That too is form.
Strange though this may sound, not knowing where one is going, being lost, being a loser, reveals the greatest possible faith and optimism, as against collective security and collective significance. To believe, one must have lost God; to paint, one must have lost art.
I want to leave everything as it is. I therefore neither plan nor invent; I add nothing and omit nothing. At the same time, I know that I inevitably shall plan, invent, alter, make and manipulate. But I don’t know what.
— Gerhard Richter
Everything slips away from me. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and all it contains, my personality: it all slips away. I constantly feel that I was someone different, that a different I felt, that a different I thought. I’m watching a play with a different, unfamiliar setting, and what I’m watching is me.
— Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (tr. Zenith)
The year it went wrong, the year I turned up, turned your life upside down… You wandered in beech forests, rolling the fine silky leaves between your fingers. Sat by ponds, by the sea, drinking the beer you always carried around in your rucksack. Beer tasted better there, didn’t it, tasted like it’s supposed to. CDs and graphic novels in the local libraries… you’d like to find and thank the person in charge of acquiring the music for the libraries in those days, wouldn’t you, and tell them about the debt you owe them… Coastal walks, surrounded by that special pale blue-grey light, the chill wind from the Sound. You sat on the beach by Elsinore castle, level with the cannons, staring out at the coast opposite: at another country, another language. Who were you, what were you in this your foreign home country? Someone sitting on the beach… The year you ceased to belong to yourself… To whom then? Me? But even I was barely there. We were stretched out, the two of us, like the clouds stretching out over the water, across the two coasts, blowing away, dispersing… You’d forgotten most of the language of this old new place, you spoke like a Kaspar Hauser, you were afraid to speak, you still thought and dreamed in the other language, the one that was to become ours. A private language, was that what we were forming, what was forming itself in us? Hardly, our words hardly belonged to us. Yet wasn’t that the year you first began to know language, to inhabit it even as it resisted you? Resisted you on the one hand and pulled you deep into yourself on the other, as you stuttered your way through one language and dreamed yourself away in another?
So, there were those long walks of unravelling, where you went out with no fixed purpose, no special destination, seeking the space that is yourself. Maybe such vacancy was all you sought to lose, then find, your wish being to move through the city simply as a presence, stepping free of intentions and timetables, as if invited to a secret celebration.
– John Welch, from ‘There and Back’
But the material of experience is not the material of expression and I think the distress you feel, as a writer, comes from a tendency on your part to assimilate the two. The issue is roughly that raised by Proust in his campaign against naturalism and the distinction he made between the “real” of the human predicament and the artist’s “ideal real” remains certainly valid for me and indeed badly in need of revival. I understand, I think no one better, the flight from experience to expression and I understand the necessary failure of both. But it is the flight from one order or disorder to an order or disorder of a different nature and the two failures are essentially dissimilar in kind. Thus failure in life can hardly be anything but dismal at the best, whereas there is nothing more exciting for the writer, or richer in unexploited expressive possibilities, than the failure to express.
— Beckett, from a letter to a fellow writer (via here)