gone West

He has rejected a great many books that he liked before the War, as well as a great many trends in painting or music, because they have not stood the test of experience. The work of human thought should withstand the test of brutal, naked reality. If it cannot, it is worthless. Probably only those things are worth while which can preserve their validity in the eyes of man threatened with instant death.”

-Czeslaw Milosz
The Captive Mind

ink

‘… Your mother will be coming any moment now, and she’ll teach you many things.’ Eleseus is eager to learn and asks, ‘When you write on paper, what does it feel like?’—’It feels like almost nothing,’ the father answers, ‘just like being empty-handed.’—’But doesn’t he slip, like on the ice?’—’Who?’—’The pen you write with?’—’Uh-huh. Well you have to learn to steer him.'”

-Knut Hamsun
Growth of the Soil

glukupikron

It is a deadly stinginess by which the nonlover eludes desire. He measures his emotions out like a miser counting gold. There is no risk entailed in his transaction with eros because he does not invest in the single moment that is open to risk, the moment when desire begins, ‘now.’ ‘Now’ is the moment when change erupts. The nonlover declines change, as successfully as the cicadas do, enclosed in a carapace of sōphrosynē. He is secure in his narrative choices of life and love. He already knows how the novel will end, and he has firmly crossed out the beginning…

The point of time that Lysias deletes from his logos, the moment of mania when Eros enters the lover, is for Sokrates the single most important moment to confront and grasp. ‘Now’ is a gift from the gods and an access onto reality. To address yourself to the moment when Eros glances into your life and to grasp what is happening in your soul at that moment is to begin to understand how to live. Eros’ mode of takeover is an education: it can teach you the real nature of what is inside you. Once you glimpse that, you can begin to become it. Sokrates says it is a glimpse of a god.”

-Anne Carson
Eros, The Bittersweet

… someone is said to be the same person from childhood till old age. Although he is called the same person, he never has the same constituents, but is always being renewed in some respects and experiencing loss in others, for instance, his hair, skin, bone, blood and his whole body. This applies not only to the the body but also to the mind: attributes, character traits, beliefs, desires, pleasures, pains, fears—none of these ever remain the same in each of us, but some are emerging while others are being lost.”

-Diotima in Plato’s Symposium

vanity and void

The story of my life doesn’t exist. Does not exist. There’s never any center to it. No path, no line. There are great spaces where you pretend there used to be someone, but it’s not true, there was no one. The story of one small part of my youth I’ve already written, more or less—I mean, enough to give a glimpse of it… Nowadays it often seems writing is nothing at all. Sometimes I realize that if writing isn’t, all things, all contraries confounded, a quest for vanity and void, it’s nothing. That if it’s not, each time, all things confounded into one through some inexpressible essence, then writing is nothing but advertisement. But usually I have no opinion, I can see that all options are open now, that there seem to be no more barriers, that writing seems at a loss for somewhere to hide, to be written, to be read. That its basic unseemliness is no longer accepted. But at that point I stop thinking about it.”

-Marguerite Duras
The Lover

blue + grey

On my walk with the camera I had lost my cable release. The golden cemetery island in the air went unphotographed. At first, I was distressed not by my loss of cable per se, but of the cable as witness to one day two years ago in winter—the grey, mild, mistletoe-winter, a winter without abnormalities—when we wandered through the streets, thinking about ‘next year’ and ‘in two years’ and the ‘future’ in general and I bought it at a shop with used camera accessories, to replace a lost one. We both ran our fingers through the slack knot of cable releases, which lay in a basket, twisted into one another like half-hibernating, languid, fearless snakelets, and M. eventually pulled out this especially robust, light-grey coated one, which I took and used and now had lost. My distress over the cable falls under one of the potential curses of bereavement that I gradually became familiar with: weighting objects qua testimony. The attribution of participation in a moment past. A small piece of back-then, which should act as if it could moor the past tense onto the broken-off banks of the present. Idle lists of a forlornness that knows not what to do with itself.”

-Esther Kinsky
Grove

possessed

I speak a lot, I mean, a lot of words, and I rush, and it always comes out wrong. And why is it that I speak a lot of words and it comes out wrong? Because I don’t know how to speak. Those who know how to speak well, speak briefly. So, there you have my giftlessness—isn’t it true? But since this gift of giftlessness is natural to me, why shouldn’t I use it artificially? And so I do. True, as I was preparing to come here, I first had the thought of being silent; but to be silent is a great talent, and is therefore not fitting for me, and, second, it’s dangerous to be silent, after all; well, so I finally decided that it would be best to talk, but precisely in a giftless way, I mean, a lot, a lot, a lot, to be in a great rush to prove something, and towards the end to get tangled up in one’s own proofs, so that the listener throws up his hands, or, best of all, just spits and walks away without any end.”

-Fyodor Dostoevsky
Demons