Here are some passages I love from Pierre-Albert Jourdan’s notebook-diary,The Approach, translated by John Taylor. Taylor states: This journal records thoughts, books read, daily routines, and hospital experiences during the poet’s five-month long wrestling with terminal illness… The Approach constitutes a courageous testimonial and response to two ominous questions: Why write? And why read? More generally, Jourdan’s oeuvre comprehends writing as an examination par excellence of the predicament: “how to live.”
"The trouble is that others observe us. Our loved ones, also those who make decisions (more or less abruptly) for us. All the same, you cannot wear your decrepitude as if it were a victory."
“You cannot get out of yourself in order to grasp meaning; halfway out of your depth most of the time, you can only test the current with your fingertips; which is not at all the same thing.”
“I have been sailing my way through a constant fever. Heat flashes, shivering. My pen does not take them into account. What else can I do but obey it? I am not going to turn my blood ink-black by constant worrying. I am going to give my pen the better part. The blue part, preferably.”
“I cannot truly distinguish my own suffering, at least at this bearable stage—but I hope with all my heart that, if it worsens, the same mood will subsist deep inside me—from that of, for example, these trees assailed by the violence of a wind gone mad, from their own struggle; or from that of animals who are tortured, poisoned, stalked, and hunted down and yet who are, each of them, our mainstays. I refuse to pay the slightest bit of attention to those who, their ego bleating at the slightest alert, are surprised to discover that they have not remained at the center of the world. Suffering is so widespread, and extends so far beyond our understanding, that we should relinquish (perhaps in the form of a sacrifice, even a blind one) a part, even if infinitesimal, of our own ills. And this, as long as our mental lucidity is not covered over by the irremediable. This is a prayer that I humbly formulate for myself.”
“Watching plants grow never ages you.
Hands impregnated with rosemary.”
“What language does my body speak? What is it telling me? To think that I can’t catch the slightest scrap. Poverty, extreme poverty. May my body forgive me.”
“For every gaze that turns away, something dies. We never know the sum of these infinitesimal, unnoticed, deaths because they take on the face of our own death.”
“You cannot become attached to human beings, things, or landscapes without suffering immediately taking up a position at your side. This is probably a trite remark. Yet a much stranger fate brings you face to face with uprootedness. It is better, then, to accept the suffering at your side. And illuminate it with love.”