bonhomie and brutality !

Fortunatus, that versatile, gentle, genial, boot-licking gourmet, who somehow managed to write two of the most magnificent hymns of the Christian church, came from Italy on a visit to Gaul in 565 and never left it again. He traveled all over the Frankish lands, in what had been Germania as well as in what had been Gaul. From Trier to Toulouse he made his way with ease by river and by road, and it might be Ausonius again. Fortunatus too writes a poem on the Moselle; and there is the same smiling countryside with terraced vineyards sloping down to the quiet stream and the smoke of villas rising from the woods. Fortunatus too made the round of the country houses, especially of the sumptuous villages belonging to Leontius bishop of Bordeaux, a great Gallo-Roman aristocrat, whose grandfather had been a friend of Sidonius. The hot baths, the pillared porticos, the lawns sloping to the river, are all there; the feasts are even more magnificent (they upset Fortunatus’s digestion badly) and the talk is still of literature…

But when you look again you realize that it is not the same. It is not merely because we know that even these remnants of the social and material civilization of Rome would soon themselves die away that the tragedy of the sixth century looms so dark. It is because when we look below the surface we see that the life has gone out of it all, the soul that inflamed it is dead, nothing is now left but the empty shell. These men welcome Fortunatus just because he comes from Italy, where the rot has gone less far, where there still survives some reputation for learning and for culture. They slake their nostalgia a little in the presence of that enfant perdue of a lost civilization…

Why did they not realize the magnitude of the disaster that was befalling them?…

In the first place the process of disintegration was a slow one, for the whole tempo of life was slow and what might take decades in our own time took centuries then. It is only because we can look back from the vantage point of a much later age that we can see the inexorable pattern which events are forming, so that we long to cry to these dead people down the corridor of the ages, warning them to make a stand before it is too late, hearing no answering echo, ‘Physician, heal thyself!’ They suffered from the fatal myopia of contemporaries. It was the affairs of the moment that occupied them; for them it was the danger of the moment that must be averted and they did not recognize that each compromise and each defeat was a link in the chain dragging them over the abyss…

The fact is that the Romans were blinded to what was happening to them by the very perfection of the material culture which they had created. All around them was solidity and comfort, a material existence which was the very antithesis of barbarism. How could they foresee the day when the Norman chronicler would marvel over the broken hypocausts of Caerleon? How could they imagine that anything so solid might conceivably disappear? Their roads grew better as their statesmanship grew worse and central heating triumphed as civilization fell.

But still more responsible for their unawareness was the education system in which they were reared… and it would be difficult to imagine an education more entirely out of touch with contemporary life, or less suited to inculcate the qualities which might have enabled men to deal with it. The fatal study of rhetoric, its links with reality long since severed, concentrated the whole attention of men of intellect on form rather than on matter. The things they learned in their schools had no relation to the things that were going on in the world outside and bred in them the fatal illusion that tomorrow would be as yesterday, that everything was the same, whereas everything was so different.”

-Eileen Power
Medieval People
1924

either way

You’re about this sweet spot stretch… Even though the rest are walking higher up on the beach, just above the slight plateau that marks where the highest tide reaches. Doing your loner, off-on-your-own-thing, but whatever. You’ve always been on that. Only with her were you not. But then it became about her having to be on that with you, in order to be with you. Till she wanted to be off with others and not on that off-on-your-own alone shit with you. She told you read Hannah Arendt that Hannah Arendt was the antidote to your Heidegger off-on-your-own alone shit. You tried. You did try.

You keep following this water’s edge and you’ll be OK. Too far either way and you’re fucked. You want to record this somehow. To not forget it. You’d write it down but you’re too stoned and anyway you’re walking. You double tap outta Notes. Switch to Camera. Start taking photos, one after another, even though each is a Live Photo so is already a series. You’ve gotta catch every angle of every wave. Every new iteration. Every photo isn’t quite it, but maybe the next will be. You stop after about twelve. Nine months later, you delete all of them to free up space on your phone.”

-Sean Thor Conroe
Fuccboi

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

2020 reads

* novels and non-fiction

Eros, The Bittersweet – Anne Carson
The Immortality Key – Brian C. Muraresku
Demons – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Labyrinth of Solitude – Octavio Paz
My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
Wild Milk – Sabrina Orah Mark
Summer Solstice – Nina MacLaughlin
Wake Siren – Nina MacLaughlin
The Complete Stories – Clarice Lispector
The Complete Stories – Leonora Carrington
Grove – Esther Kinsky
Molloy – Samuel Beckett
America – Jean Baudrillard
The Symposium & The Allegory of the Cave – Plato
Boy Swallows Universe – Trent Dalton
The Obscene Madam D – Hilda Hilst
The Lover – Marguerite Duras
Multitudes – Lucy Caldwell
Year of the Monkey – Patti Smith
Gratitude – Oliver Sacks
The Plague – Albert Camus

*

2019, 2018, 2017

near & far

I don’t feel madness in my wish to bite stars, but the earth still exists. And because the first truth is in the earth and the body. If the twinkling of the stars pains me, if this distant communication is possible, it is because something almost like a star quivers within me. Here I am back at the body. Return to my body. {…} Where does music go when it’s not playing? — she asked herself. And disarmed she would answer: may they make a harp of my nerves when I die.”

 

-Clarice Lispector
Near to the Wild Heart

Same

Time is a fractal, or has a fractal structure. All times, moments, months and millennia, have a pattern; the same pattern… A love affair, the fall of an empire, the death agony of a protozoan, all occur within the context of this always the same but ever different pattern. All events are resonances of other events, in other parts of time, and at other scales of time.”

-Terence McKenna

Becoming

Life exceeds itself, its past, its context, in making itself more and other than its history: life is that which registers and harnesses the impact of contingency, converting contingency into history, and history into self-overcoming, supersession, becoming-other… Life is not different in substance from matter but is a kind of opening up of matter to indeterminacy, a qualitative transformation of matter into the unexpected, the surprising, the never-seen-before and the never-able-to-be-repeated. It adds to the contained and structured material universe the openness of the virtual, the potential to be otherwise, as it transforms matter, and itself, in its self-overcoming.”

-Elizabeth Grosz
Time Travels