the really central Kafka joke – that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.
I have felt as bleak as I’ve felt since puberty, and have filled almost three Mead notebooks trying to figure out whether it was Them or Just Me.
In the gap between what one wants to say (or what one perceives there is to say) and what one can say (what is sayable), words provide for a collaboration and a desertion. We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world- to close the gap between ourselves and things- and we suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our inability to do so.
True loneliness, when one has to endure it, brings with it a desire to kill. -Cesare Pavese
I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
And I get to the bottom and I see you again
Well do you, don’t you want me to love you?
I’m coming down fast
But don’t let me break you.
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You may be a lover
But you ain’t no dancer”
~ words by The Beatles” —
Joubert had his gift. He never wrote a book. He only prepared to write one, resolutely seeking the exact conditions that would allow him to write it. Then he forgot even this plan. More precisely, what he was seeking—this source of writing, this space in which to write, this light to circumscribe in space—demanded of him, affirmed in him inclinations that made him unfit for all ordinary literary work, or made him turn away from it. In this he was one of the first completely modern writers, preferring the center to the sphere, sacrificing results to the discovery of their conditions, and writing not in order to add one book to another but to take command of the point from which it seemed to him all books issued, the point which, once it was found, would relieve him of the need to write any books.from: Selections from Joubert and Space,
an essay by Maurice Blanchot
(translated by Lydia Davis)
No matter what book I read, it is my book. Every painting I look at becomes my painting. At some level of the reading. It doesn’t stay there, it doesn’t begin there. But at some level of the exchange it is mine. Some way into the process it becomes other once again, but parts of it are left in me. Parts of the cadences, the phrases, the vocabulary. The particular histories that it rehearses. The events emotional, historical, social. Some of that remains in me.
I would not have it different.
Ruin is everywhere. The plague of soft rain endless.
We sing of loss because the only voice they gave us
was song and reasoning. It is not love we are after.
No love. Not singing. But a somber thing.
A going to the opening and entering.
no bird without you
is a bird you
From “You” by George Oppen
This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
Tougher than anything.
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry.
— Write. Do not doubt, I mean: do not deny poetry.
— That is not easy.
— I know.
— It is not easy to find words again, I mean to relearn words or relearn to speak. It’s a little as if you were coming to after seventeen years in a coma and you heard yourself pronounce a single word: “write,” without any idea what the word means.
Shared: seasons, books, and music.
Keys, teacups, the breadbasket, linens and a bed.
A dowry of words, of gestures, carried along,
used up, spent.
House rules followed. Said. Done. And always
the extended hand.
In winter, in a Viennese septet, and in summer
I have been in love.
With maps, in a mountain hut, on a beach
and in a bed.
A cult made up of dates and irrevocable promises,
enraptured before something, reverent over nothing.
( — to the folded newspaper, the cold ashes, the note
on a piece of paper)
fearless in religion, for the church was this bed.
From the sea view came my unstoppable painting.
From my balcony I greeted the people, my neighbors, below.
By the open fire, in safety, my hair took on its deepest color.
The doorbell’s ring was the alarm for my joy.
It is not you I have lost,
but the world.