Monthly Archives: December 2020

I’m not living my own life… I feel refuted, abandoned, and above all threatened by a world ready to dissolve entire in such senseless disorder.

— Rilke, letter, 1917

Always more

The presence of things to us is never exhausted by meaning: a friend, the sea, the tree, the flower — all that present themselves to us — are always more than how we present them. Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire more than sixty times by several accounts, but never once did he think he had exhausted its showing, its manifestation.

— Richard Capobianco, Heidegger’s Way of Being

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The still point

At the still point of the turning world, neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

— T.S. Eliot

I am too alone in the world, but not alone enough
to make every hour holy.

— Rilke

Another, ghostly life

I often dream of finding myself back in the suburbs, back before I received my PhD scholarship to pursue my studies in continental philosophy — before I could return to Manchester and leave the suburbs behind. And I dream of the strange expansiveness of the suburbs too — of their very indefiniteness, the way they seem to sprawl forever.

I used to go cycling under the white skies, and air felt thick and heavy. But I could never leave the menace behind — that “eternullity,” as Blanchot calls it; that “infinite wearing away.”

It is this “eternullity” that is, I think, so difficult to affirm. What would have happened if I’d never found my way into Reading University Library, if I’d never discovered continental philosophy, if I’d never won my scholarship and moved away? 

There is, I think, another, ghostly life of mine that I’d never have the strength to affirm, in which I would have stayed stranded in those afternoons, alone with the “infinite wearing away” that belonged to them.

Lars Iyer

Recovery

This book will be a record of how things turn out during that first year. But it will also, inevitably, be an account of my own life in the aftermath of illness, and of what I felt and thought dipping my toe at last into something approaching adult independence. It’s become customary, on this side of the Atlantic, stiffly to exclude all such personal narratives from writings about the natural world, as if the experience of nature were something separate from real life, a diversion, a hobby; or perhaps only to be evaluated through the dispassionate and separating prism of science. It has never felt like that to me, and since my recovery, it’s seemed absurd that, with our new understanding of the kindredness of life, so-called ‘nature writing’ should divorce itself from other kinds of literature, and from the rest of human existence.

— Richard Mabey, Nature Cure

Serious

‘Serious’ is an inadequate word. I wish I could find another, but ‘sincere’ has been murdered by President Nixon, and ‘authentic’ by the fancy critics, and there is no adjectival form of ‘integrity’, which is the quality I am talking about. Integrity, plus intelligence. An author who thinks out a major subject thoroughly, who feels the subject intensely, and who talks about it clearly, that is what I mean. The word ‘clearly’, of course, does not imply logic, expository prose, naturalism, or any other specific device; clarity in art is achieved by means that suit the end in view, which may be extremely subtle, complex and obscure. The skilled use of such means is the artist’s art. And the use of them involves considerable pain.

— Ursula Le Guin (via here)