March 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
“I have always believed the same thing, and I very much fear even after victory that things in my country will continue to seem to me as bad as before. This is such a horrible mixture of ignorance, bad faith, corruption, and weakness that I suspect the evil is too deep for revolutionaries to repair. Among these, one sees everything: there are men of much merit, good heads, and hearts of gold; but there are also unruly ones who seek only noise an chaos; not to mention those filled with good faith yet lacking in intelligence and common sense. I have observed this group they are caught up in, unable to unite the greatness of ideas with the pettiness of their ambitions ; I have felt a certain fear for principle; but after pondering it, I have concluded by affirming that the evils that revolution may bring will never be as great as those of absolution. And if they are — he continued contemptuously — they will deserve it. If all this is to continue to bear the name of nation, everything must be turned upside down, that common sense which has been offended be avenged, drawing and quartering such ridiculous idolatry, such foolishness, and barbarism erected in living institutions; there must be a complete renovation of the patria, no vestiges of the past should remain, and everything must be plowed under with noise, crushing the foolish who insist on carrying an outmoded artifice on their shoulders. And this must be done quickly, violently, because if it is not done this way it will never be done. . . . Here the doors of tyranny must be torn down with ax blows in order to destroy them, because if we open them with their key, they will be left standing and will close again.”
– Benito Pérez Galdós, La Segunda casaca (as quoted in Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight)
March 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
From Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies:
My body does not yet make up its mind. But I fancy it weighs heavier on the bed, flattens and spreads. My breath, when it comes back, fills the room with its din, though my chest moves no more than a sleeping child’s. I open my eyes and gaze unblinkingly and long at the night sky. So a tiny tot I gaped, first at the novelties, then at the antiquities. Between it and me the pane, misted and smeared with the filth of years. I should like to breathe on it, but it is too far away. It is such a night as Kaspar David Friedrich loved, tempestuous and bright. That name that comes back to me, those names. The clouds scud, tattered by the wind, across a limpid ground. If I had the patience to wait I would see the moon. But I have not. Now that I have looked I hear the wind. I close my eyes and it mingles with my breath. Words and images run riot in my head, pursuing, flying, clashing, merging, endlessly. But beyond this tumult there is a great calm, and a great indifference, never really to be troubled by anything again. I turn a little on my side, press my mouth against the pillow, and my nose, crush against the pillow my old hairs now no doubt as white as snow, pull the blanket over my head. I feel, deep down in my trunk, I cannot be more explicit, pains that seem new to me. I think they are chiefly in my back. They have a kind of rhythm, they even have a kind of little tune. They are bluish. How bearable all that is, my God. My head is almost facing the wrong way, like a bird’s. I part my lips, now I have the pillow in my mouth. I have, I have. I suck. The search for myself is ended. I am buried in the world, I knew I would find my place there one day, the old world cloisters me, victorious. I am happy, I knew I would be happy one day. But I am not wise. For the wise thing now would be to let go, at this instant of happiness. And what do I do? I go back again to the light, to the fields I so longed to love, to the sky all astir with little white clouds as white and light as snowflakes, to the life I could never manage, through my own fault perhaps, through pride, or pettiness, but I don’t think so. The beasts are at pasture, the sun warms the rocks and makes them glitter. Yes, I leave my happiness and go back to the race of men too, they come and go, often with burdens. Perhaps I have judged them ill, but I don’t think so, I have not judged them at all. All I want now is to make a last effort to understand, to begin to understand, how such creatures are possible. No, it is not a question of understanding. Of what then? I don’t know. Here I go none the less, mistakenly. Night, strom and sorrow, and the catalepsies of the soul, this time I shall see that they are good. The last word is not yet said between me and–yes, the last word is said. Perhaps I simply want to hear it said again. Just once again. No, I want nothing.
November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
It was good seeing you last night. I confess my mind was torn away from our conversation at times, the awkwardness mitigated by the sound of chewing and water refills, by thoughts about the grand jury announcement moments before we met. I’d made a note as I waited for your arrival: “The slow approach of the inevitable ends in a dead sprint.” And as I watched the small gathering across the street, everything seemed deflated. The cops patrolling, vaguely disinterested; the megaphoned voice, exhausted. And as I was falling asleep I wrote, “If America is broken, what of our will? — has it been pulverized into the powdered poison that might finish the job?” Whereupon I awoke around two, tongue-dried and wanting water. And as I drank I imagined someone pinned by a large, nearly immovable stone, both puncturing his bowels and holding them in place, and scribbled a third note, “the very one that’s killing you would do so even still if you figured a way out.”
Ah, but how did you enjoy the dinner?
November 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
An amateurish photographing & merging — itself a perfectly sloppy kiss — of two adjacent pages from Hervé Guibert’s exquisite The Mausoleum of Lovers.
November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
A context-free edit:
Have you considered the possibility you’re rushing justice too quickly into the bed of peace? You know my aversion to end-points. Creation implies the complexity of movement, and movement requires friction, and friction, well, that always rubs somebody wrong, doesn’t it? If there’s to be a real peace, surely it is as tentative as a handshake deal. When, in the history of its proclamation, whether as an achievement or a goal, has it not come with a boot on the back of somebody’s neck? Our sense of an ending comes too easily. Mourning and remembrance end long before our bodies do — our ashes burn longer. Even if your fundamentalists are right, it’s because our wicked ways are as fertile as our bodies, the wages of sin a hand-me-down prize, for the earth and its beasts. Even when these bodies and all that they carried within, the rights minted as credit and wrongs compounded into debt, are forgotten, the breath once sucked in by one, was inhaled long before by another, and will be breathed again, repeatedly, elsewhere. This isn’t to say we don’t and shouldn’t pick our moments when to say “enough,” to name some thing by calling it peace. This is language, after all, and is meant to be used. But these agreements we make, the inevitable acceptances even in the course of a sentence let alone a life, could be undone with but a sneeze.
October 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
I thought that if I scrolled quickly down the manuscript, the torrent of words might waterfall and that within the cascade, the crash where the gaps between words slam into letters, all that senseless spray, I might look and see not simply noise, like the babble of media, social and non-, slobbery like a baby without the insight or wit, but sound, itself and its other, that measure that’s the same, where silence slips into and through indifference, groans into moans borne by the wind that tumbles the stone that flattens the bug that feeds the bird that returns to the sky in search for a place to nest.
The torrent, though, dried quickly into a stream, and became a bath for the smallest of creatures, most the size of notions, and quicker still into a pool, an oasis for others who dined on the bathers, but isolated to itself, until it turned to steam and then into green, these unaware, killed by the tips of their tongues.
I thought that if I scrolled quickly down the manuscript, I might finally reach the end.
September 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
Paragraphs were torn: their topics decapitated, bodies rent, conclusions riven. So many page ones exiled from twos, who were now strangers unrecognized to threes, though neighborly enough with fours to borrow flour and power tools. Editorial arrows lost their tips; and these, their quiver. The infidelity of salutations unsigned, Dears divorced of Sincerely, and promiscuous signatures, Yours, without addresses. The tower of letters, when felled by the wind, crashed like a wave, mixing meanings as though they were metaphors. “I want you” . . . to do what, though? The page underneath, now a different letter entirely, offered no clue. It spoke the same language but with a foreign tongue. Simple requests thus became amorous declarations, but what of the nearby “FUCK YOU!”? Was it missing its “I WANT TO”? The characters of this correspondence, sensibly in extremis, contextually exhausted, collapsed.
Reading is a kind of writing, the room seemed to wheeze.