Monthly Archives: December 2021

O you profound teachers of simplicity, should it not also be possible to find the moment when one is speaking? No, only by being silent does one find the moment. When one speaks, even one says merely a single word, one misses the moment — the moment is only in silence. Because a person cannot keep silent, it rarely happens that he really comes to understand when the moment is and how to use the moment properly. He cannot be silent and wait, which perhaps explains why the moment never comes for him at all. He cannot be silent, which perhaps explains why he was not aware of the moment when it did come for him. Although pregnant with its rich meaning, the moment does not have any message sent in advance to announce its coming; it comes too swiftly for that when it comes and there is not a moment’s time beforehand. Nor does the moment, no matter how significant it is in itself, come with noise or with shouting. No, it comes softly, with a lighter step than the lightest footfall of any creature, since it comes with the light step of the sudden; it comes stealthily — therefore one must be absolutely silent if one is to be aware that ‘now it is here’. At the next moment it is gone, and for that reason one must have been absolutely silent if one is to succeed in making use of it. Yet everything depends on the moment. Indeed, the misfortune in the lives of the great majority of human beings is this, that they were never aware of the moment, that in their lives the eternal and the temporal are exclusively separated. And why? Because they could not be silent.

— Kierkegaard, ‘The Lily in the Field and the Bird of the Air’ (tr. Hong & Hong)

But to lose the moment is to become momentary. A moment lost, then the chain of eternity is broken; a moment lost, then the connectedness of eternity is disturbed.

— Kierkegaard

Stand back

I don’t want to make myself out to be much better than I am, Nathanael. Not much better, but a little more interesting, perhaps. I have no ambition, my friend, but I’m not without vanity.

Try and see if you can discover this vanity, Nathanael. If you can’t, it’s your own fault!

Even if I have had too much to drink, I’m not fuddled. I can think clearly. I can feel that you’ve come closer, my strange friend. In a way, you’re getting closer than I like. You’d like to pry into my dark mind; you’d like me to show you more of myself, be more open and frank with you, tell you everything, especially what’s disgusting about myself. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Keep away, my fine friend! Stand back, my friend!

– Martin A. Hansen, The Liar (tr. from Danish by Egglishaw)

Out of artifice

I felt it as artificial, that sitting down to write a book. And that is a feeling that is with me still, all these years later, at the start of a book—I am speaking of an imaginative work. There is no precise theme or story that is with me. Many things are with me; I write the artificial, self-conscious beginnings of many books; until finally some true impulse—the one I have been working toward—possesses me, and I sail away on my year’s labor. And that is mysterious still—that out of artifice one should touch and stir up what is deepest in one’s soul, one’s heart, one’s memory.

— V.S. Naipaul (via here)