Monthly Archives: September 2011

In the night it became clear to me

Writing is a sweet and wonderful reward, but for what? In the night it became clear to me, as clear as a child’s lesson book, that it is the reward for serving the devil. This descent to the dark powers, this unshackling of spirits bound by nature, these dubious embraces and whatever else may take place in the nether parts which the higher parts no longer know, when one writes one’s stories in the sunshine.

— Kafka (via here)


Nothing to declare

Waiting for Godot frankly jettisons everything by which we recognise theatre. It arrives at the custom-house, as it were, with no luggage, no passport, and nothing to declare; yet it gets through, as might a pilgrim from Mars. It does this, I believe, by appealing to a definition of drama much more fundamental than any in the books.

Kenneth Tynan


Your anxieties, when did they start? No prize for guessing: when I turned up. But they seemed to have a life of their own, didn’t they? Didn’t they creep into your life despite me, despite you, almost as if they were there before us, as if they had no regard for us? Nothing we did could stop them because we did nothing in unison. It was almost admirable how they crept up on you, wasn’t it, how they undermined you better than any enemy could have done: how they got to you before me. Or was it my arrival itself that brought them into being? From the most primitive fears – I can’t leave my room, not while there are still voices in the hall – to the delicate sensation of the marrow in your bones turning into cold metal rods, quivering ever so slightly.

The call of the work

For the man who sets out to write, the work is in no way a shelter in which he lives, in his peaceful and protected self, shielded from the difficulties of life. Perhaps he in fact thinks he is protected from the world, but he is exposed to a danger much greater and more menacing because it finds him powerless: the very danger that comes to him from outside, from the fact that he remains outside. And against this threat he must not defend himself; on the contrary, he must give in to it. The work demands that, demands that the man who writes it sacrifice himself for the work, become other – not other than the living man he was, the writer with his duties, his satisfactions, and his interests, but he must become no one, the empty and animated space where the call of the work resounds.

— Blanchot, The Book to Come (tr. Mandell)

Sunset is such a sad hour

Kit took Port’s hand. They climbed in silence, happy to be together.
‘Sunset is such a sad hour’, she said presently.
‘If I watch the end of a day – any day – I always feel it’s the end of a whole epoch. And the autumn! It might as well be the end of everything’, he said. ‘That’s why I hate cold countries, and love the warm ones, where there’s no winter, and when night comes you feel an opening up of the life there, instead of a closing down. Don’t you feel that?’
‘Yes’, said Kit, ‘but I’m not sure I prefer the warm countries. I don’t know. I’m not sure I don’t feel that it’s wrong to try to escape the night and winter, and that if you do you’ll have to pay for it somehow.’
‘Oh, Kit! You’re really crazy.’

— Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

When did you lose your name?

When did it happen? When did you lose your name? Wasn’t it when I came on the scene and was forced to try to control you, to impose your name upon you on their behalf? And you could do nothing but hurry back to your new room and lock your door, hoping they hadn’t seen you… Didn’t you lose your name at the very moment you were supposed to gain it, when you shook hands with your father and walked down that grey path between the thistle bushes? Whose fault is it, mine or yours? For there was no one else, was there? Weren’t they all pulled out from under you in those moments? Strange trick. Oh it wasn’t so tragic, the high heavens didn’t fall, but we were instantly relegated to our lifelong roles, though we had no idea what they were.


What we couldn’t have achieved if we hadn’t been hindered by each other, if we’d slid into each other without noticing, if we’d grown into one! We’d have slid right into the world, with all its worldly pains and joys. What did you ever want but to feel those pains and joys? Didn’t they seem like child’s play compared to having me around, compared to being you?