Monthly Archives: February 2012

Church of the Pines

Spring, spring, flowers blossom and bloom
Squirrel, squirrel, jump down onto my roof
Sparrow, cardinal, hummingbird
Redwood, holly tree, juniper

The service moves slowly through the hills
Faint sound of the highway
Night sets on the church of pines
Ending the day, they lay down to rest

From my room, I look at the street
And see the youths passing along
While I unwind, head in a song
And in my bed, I play the guitar
I loosen the strings till I find a tone
And if it don’t come, then I’ll put it down

Howl, howl, dogs of the neighbourhood
Moon glow, over the gravestones
Dense vines, strangle the black oaks
the lamp light, the fallen fence posts
The sun rises over the treeline
With welcoming morning light
Day sets on the church of pines
one day we’ll all be laid to rest

From the hills I look up at stars
And feel the darkness swell like a bruise
And in my head I’m playing with words
I scramble and strain to find the right ones
sometimes there are none
sometimes they don’t come

—  Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon, ‘Church of the Pines’


The closeness of our bodies, the way we walked upstairs – these too were like things from a dream out of time, and so they would remain in my memory for many years. I saw understanding and disquiet in her glances and I felt grateful to her for the way she expressed her feelings with her eyes. There, once again, it was clear that Füsun and I were made for each other. I had undergone all this anguish on account of this awareness and it did not matter in the least that she was married; just to feel as happy as I did now, climbing up the stairs with her, I was ready to undergo any further torment. To the visitor stubbornly wed to ‘realism’ who cannot suppress a smile at this, having noticed how small that Cukurcuma house is, with the distance between that table and the upstairs bathroom being perhaps four and half paces, not counting the seventeen steps, let me state with categorical and liberal-minded clarity that I would readily have sacrificed my very life for the happiness I felt during that brief interlude. After closing the door to the bathroom on the top floor, I decided that my life was no longer in my control, that my connection to Füsun had shaped it into something beyond my free will. Only by believing this could I be happy, could I indeed bear to live.

—  Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence (tr. Freely)

A drop of the sea in the sea

W. dreams of a thought that would move with what it thinks, follow and respond to it, like a surfer his wave. A thought that would inhabit what was to be thought, like a fish the sea – no, a thought that would be only a drop of the sea in the sea, belonging to its object as water does to water.

— Lars Iyer, Dogma


Now an angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a blazing fire —

a fire that devours fire;

a fire that burns in things dry and moist;

a fire that glows amid snow and ice;

a fire that is like a crouching lion;

a fire that reveals itself in many forms;

a fire that is, and never expires;

a fire that shines and roars;

a fire that blazes and sparkles;

a fire that flies in a storm wind;

a fire that burns without wood;

a fire that renews itself every day;

a fire that is not fanned by fire;

a fire that billows like palm branches;

a fire whose sparks are flashes of lightning;

a fire black as a raven;

a fire, curled, like the colours of the rainbow!

– Yannai, ‘The Celestial Fire’, from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse (via here)

Put away

She used to say to him, If people knew what I was thinking they would put me away forever. But they would put us all away, he said. They have put us away. We are put away for our thoughts, one way or another. We have put ourselves away, he said.

— Don DeLillo, Mao II 

There is an idea in Finland that it is good to sit in silence as the light goes, to observe nightfall as a time of contemplation – ‘pitaa hamaraa’, ‘keeping the twilight’.

– Peter Davidson, The Idea of North (via here)

Depressive realism

Ben Jeffery, in a book-length essay recently published by Zero Books, fittingly labels Houellebecq’s caustic literary approach “depressive realism,” likening his narrative style to the cognitive deadlock that can characterize clinical depression. His protagonists accept that their problems are meaningless in the cosmic scheme of things yet cannot stop mulling them over. Though they believe that a cure for their malaise is impossible, they are compelled to continually refine their self-diagnoses. They appear determined, or consigned, to have no illusions about themselves, even though a certain amount of illusions may be necessary for staving off paralyzing solipsism. Stringing one’s experiences into a coherent narrative, positing an ability to sympathize with others, developing a sense of personal identity — these are ultimately faith-based notions after all. We have to get past our own insignificance to regard anything else as worthy of contemplation and connection. “Depression is the pathological frontier of individualism,” Jeffery writes, “the point at which the whole world is eaten up by the self.” Houellebecq’s work inhabits that frontier and attempts to present it as the universal truth of the human condition.

Rob Horning (via here)

Into the cage they put a young panther

Into the cage they put a young panther. Even the most insensitive felt it refreshing to see this wild creature leaping around the cage that had so long been dreary. The panther was all right. The food he liked was brought to him without hesitation by the attendants; he seemed not even to miss his freedom; his noble body, furnished almost to the bursting point with all that it needed, seemed to carry freedom around with it too; somewhere in his jaws it seemed to lurk; and the joy of life streamed with such ardent passion from his throat that for the onlookers it was not easy to stand the shock of it. But they braced themselves, crowded around the cage, and did not ever want to move away.

— Kafka, ‘The Hunger Artist’ (tr. W. and E. Muir)