Monthly Archives: November 2012

The hopeless dream of being

The hopeless dream of being – not seeming, but being. At every waking moment, alert. The gulf between what you are with others and what you are alone. The vertigo and the constant hunger to be exposed, to be seen through, perhaps even wiped out. Every inflection and every gesture a lie, every smile a grimace. Suicide? No, too vulgar. But you can refuse to move, refuse to talk, so that you don’t have to lie. You can shut yourself in. Then you needn’t play any parts or make wrong gestures. Or so you thought. But reality is diabolical. Your hiding place isn’t watertight. Life trickles in from the outside, and you’re forced to react. No one asks if it is true or false, if you’re genuine or just a sham.

— Bergman, Persona

Something strange is happening

‘I tell myself I have the ability to love, but it’s all been shut up in a locked room. The life I’ve led has limited my life more and more. And the time has come to change it. The first step is to get a divorce. I think my husband and I hinder each other in some deadly way.’

‘That sounds frightening.’

‘Yes, it’s frightening. Something strange is happening. My senses, sight, hearing, touch are starting to fail me. This table for example, I can see it and touch it. But my feeling is dried-out, shrunken. Do you understand what I mean?’

‘I think I understand.’

‘It’s the same with everything. Music, smells, faces and voices. Everything seems smaller, greyer, without dignity.’

— Bergman, Scenes from a Marriage

What *are* you interested in?

‘So you’re not interested in progress, Mr Jastrau. What *are* you interested in?’

It was so unreal, this way of thinking. And it was as if the unreality spread. The buildings on the other side of the street became gathering rainclouds; the oval table, the visiting-card bowl and the hat tree seemed like random pieces of furniture that had been put out on the sidewalk by the king’s bailiff; and there, in those chairs on the sidewalk, sat Vuldum and Father Garhammer, and suddenly it occurred to Jastrau how feminine they both were. Vuldum tall and unrelenting as only a redhead can be, and the priest short and dark, constantly biting his long lips, greedy for a new, bloodless, logical problem; but who are as grim and implacable as old virgins?

‘I’m only really interested in myself’, Jastrau replied cautiously, avoiding Vuldum’s cold smile. ‘That is, in psychology, in what’s at the bottom of the soul, and – well, I’m interested in how I can build up an objective world, a reality.’

— Tom Kristensen, Hærværk (‘Havoc’), my trans.

Towards what?

A poem, as a manifestation of language and, thus, essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the — not always greatly hopeful — belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense too are under way: they are making toward something. Toward what? Toward something standing open, occupiable, perhaps toward an addressable Thou, toward an addressable reality.

— Celan

Writing itself

The dream of writing without rewriting, of writing itself (of not thinking but being thought)… Years of treading water in language, far from any shore, have taught me better. But the dream remains, to be one with the words that flow through you, through which you flow…

— Frenet, Journal

This question of survival

Are we hearing from Derrida again, does he still live, or is this what is left of him in the words we read and speak? A certain haunting or spectrality is induced through this equivocation, and this equivocation, he tells us, is structural, even originary. We expect survival to come later, as a concept that follows a life, as a predicament we face upon the death of the author, but Derrida tells us, here, at the end of his life, that the predicament was always there and that this equivocation, this question of survival, even this imperative to affirm survival, is there from the outset, built into the language that precedes us.

— Judith Butler (via here)

It, the language, remained

It, the language, remained, not lost, yes in spite of everything. But it had to pass through its own answerlessness, pass through  frightful muting, pass through the thousand darknesses of a death-bent speech. It passed through and gave back no words for that which happened; yet it passed through this happening. Passed through and could come to light again, ‘enriched’ by all this.

— Celan, Bremen Literary Prize Acceptance Speech, 1958