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

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

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