Category Archives: Ionesco

Year after year of dirty snow and bitter winds…houses and whole districts of people who aren’t really unhappy, but worse, who are neither happy nor unhappy; people who are ugly because they’re neither ugly nor beautiful; creatures that are dismally neutral, who long without longings as though they’re unconscious, unconsciously suffering from being alive. But I was aware of the sickness of life. Perhaps because I’m more intelligent, or just the opposite, less intelligent, not so wise, not so resigned, not so patient. Is that a fault or a virtue?

— Eugene Ionesco, The Killer (via here)

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I was waiting

My room was bright. Filled with sunshine. I made it a strict rule with myself to take a trip to the bathroom, wash up, and shave every day. On cloudy days, however, I still washed but I didn’t shave. After I had finished, I made my way along the tiny path that I had created between the piles of food and stacks of bottles, and lay down again. I made my bed, swept up a bit. I opened the door to my room to put out the dirty linen and pick up the clean. All that took a great deal of time and effort, and made me feel tired enough to feel fully justified in once again taking to my bed, from which I could see the sky or the ceiling. I was waiting. For what I didn’t know. But an active, pulsing wait. I tried to read signs from heaven, and when cottony clouds would pass by, mixing with the blue, I tried to fathom what it might mean. I wasn’t unhappy, the way I once had been. Was it age that had made me wiser, or had age merely blunted the forces that had stirred and struggled within me? I don’t want to give the mistaken impression that I was happy, either.

– Ionesco, The Hermit (tr. Seaver)

For only when I err do I get away from what I know and what I understand. If ‘truth’ were what I can understand, it would end up being but a small truth, my-sized. Truth must reside precisely in what I shall never understand.

— Clarice Lispector

*

It’s only when I say that everything is incomprehensible that I come as close as possible to understanding the only thing it is given to us to understand.

— Ionesco

(via here)

‘I was waiting’

My room was bright. Filled with sunshine. I made it a strict rule with myself to take a trip to the bathroom, wash up, and shave every day. On cloudy days, however, I still washed but I didn’t shave. After I had finished, I made my way along the tiny path that I had created between the piles of food and stacks of bottles, and lay down again. I made my bed, swept up a bit. I opened the door to my room to put out the dirty linen and pick up the clean. All that took a great deal of time and effort, and made me feel tired enough to feel fully justified in once again taking to my bed, from which I could see the sky or the ceiling. I was waiting. For what I didn’t know. But an active, pulsing wait. I tried to read signs from heaven, and when cottony clouds would pass by, mixing with the blue, I tried to fathom what it might mean. I wasn’t unhappy, the way I once had been. Was it age that had made me wiser, or had age merely blunted the forces that had stirred and struggled within me? I don’t want to give the mistaken impression that I was happy, either.

— Ionesco, The Hermit (tr. R. Seaver)

The cleaning lady

As she rubbed the furniture to make it shine, she upbraided me, telling me that the life I led was unhealthy. She had remarked that I had a tendency to drink a little too much, it was bad for the health. Very bad, for a man at the height of his powers. Wasn’t I going to buckle down and find some work for myself? All right, so I had an inheritance. That was no reason to sit around and do nothing all day. At least get married. Did I intend to go one living all alone, like some impotent? I ought to start a family. Man is made to have children, and there’s nothing cuter than little ones underfoot. And then when they grow up and you grow old, they don’t abandon you to poverty; no, they reach out a helping hand when you need it most. If there’s anything worse than living alone, it’s dying alone, with no one around to offer you a little milk of human kindness. I didn’t know what was in store for me.

*

She was downstairs, with the concierge, next to her door. When they saw me they stopped talking. Were they talking about me? All I want is for them to leave me alone. I can do whatever I want. I can loaf all day if I’ve a mind to. That’s my business. Oh! I can feel myself getting angry. I hurried through the lobby. But before I exited I glanced back: I saw them looking at me. They were waiting till I had disappeared before going on with their backbiting, their malicious small talk. What could they be dreaming up about me? The whole concierge system is a kind of plot.

*

She had grown used to my comings and goings at the same time every day, and adjusted to my strange solitude. ‘You look to me’, she said to me at one point, ‘like you’re hiding from the police. Or from some rivals’. I told her that no one was after my skin, that as far as my hash was concerned I was sure no one was trying to settle it, and that I had never belonged to the underworld. ‘Just as I suspected’, she said, ‘you don’t look brave enough for that’.

— Ionesco, The Hermit (tr. R. Seaver)

The hermit

I wasn’t a rebel. Which is not to imply that I was resigned, for the fact was I didn’t know what I ought to resign myself to.

*

I was in a vast space, and yet it was locked.

*

When do I hit upon the truth, when I see everything as desolation and despair, or when I see all creation as a joyous month of May in full bloom? But we cannot know, our ignorance is boundless. We have neither the right to judge, nor the possibility of judging.

*

I don’t have any desires, or rather only a few, or rather I don’t have them any more. If I have any, they’re not worth being exploited and encouraged. Perhaps I actually do have desires. But they’re dormant. I’m not inclined to wake them up. What are my desires? That people leave me alone; that other people’s desires leave me alone and don’t involve me in their repercussions. What I desire most of all is not to have any desires. And yet I notice that I do have some.

*

‘Aren’t you ashamed to have no goal in life, to be living for nothing?’ Pierre Ramboule asked me one day, unless it was Jacques, I don’t remember which. After a thorough self-examination, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ashamed […] I don’t feel obliged to answer that question.

*

People tend to avoid or forget the unthinkable; their thinking begins where the unthinkable ends; they base their thinking on the unthinkable, and for me too that is unthinkable.

*

I think that I’m at the wall of the world; forget the other side of the wall.

*

No one is guilty of anything. Or else everyone is guilty of everything, which comes to the same thing.

 

— Ionesco, The Hermit (trans. R. Seaver)