Monday, February 29, 2016

lightning-like loss

"what happens - pure happiness - is insignificant. and philosophy will always prefer sadness, which at least means something or suffers in any case from not doing so. philosophy speaks to a need for meaning, it respects it, it answers it. sadness allows empathy, it can be understood and shared. we make sense and understand each other through it. togetherness bathes in sadness. this is the keynote of every communion." -denis hollier

"throughout the course of guilty, bataille more often suggests the horror of being satisfied, the horror of satisfaction, than the delights of satisfied desire: 'desire desires not to be satisfied.' true desire is a desire for desire, not satisfaction. it always stages the emptiness of satisfaction." -denis hollier

all following quotes from guilty, by georges bataille

"with a shot of gin
a night of rowdiness
stars fall from the sky

drinking heavily from sky's thunder
heart shattered by lightning
i burst into laughter"

"the search for truth isn't my strong point (mainly i mean the phrases expressing it). but this is the issue i have to consider now: that, more than the truth, it's fear i'm after. fear opened by a dizzying fall. fear reached by possibly unlimited movements of thought."

"shouting in the throes of passion, lost in widening depths around which lightning plays, can it really matter to us what is at the bottom of an abyss?. . . determination not to become weak when a single truth is clear - that attempting to enclose what's there in intellectual categories is the same as being reduced to a proud inability to laugh"

"at this moment umwissenheit - desirable non-knowledge - becomes an expression of hopeless wisdom. reaching the limit of its development and longing to be 'put to death', thought rushes precipitously to the arena of sacrifice. and just as an emotion grows similarly until sobs burst it apart, thought's fullness takes it to the point of being blown down by the wind, and contradiction rages at last."

"for each being, you have to find the place of sacrifice, the wound. a being can only be touched where it yields."

"not to communicate signifies exactly the bloody necessity of communicating."

"perpetual instability is more boring than adhering strictly to a rule, and only what's in existence can be made to come into disequilibrium, that is, to be sacrificed. the more equilibrium the object has, the more complete it is, and the greater the disequilibrium or sacrifice that can result. . . the desire for ecstasy can't exclude method. i don't see why people object to this. method means doing violence to habits of relaxation. . . method means swimming against a current. your humiliation comes from the current; the means of going against it would seem pleasant even if they were worse."

"ecstasy is communication between terms (these terms aren't necessarily defined), and communication possesses a value the terms didn't have: it annihilates them. . . what's requisite for communication is a defect or 'fault'. communication enters like death through a chink in the armor. what's required is an overlapping of two lacerations, mine, yours."

"no greater desire exists than a wounded person's need for another wound."

"what's 'communicated' (from this site to a person and from a person to this site) is lightning-like loss. the need to go astray, to be destroyed is an extremely private, distant, passionate, turbulent truth, and has nothing to do with what we call substance."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

suffer /// sorrow

“to burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. in a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike." -walter pater

all following quotes from de profundis by oscar wilde

"love does not traffic in a market place, nor use a huckster's scales. its joy, like the joy of the intellect, is to feel itself alive. the aim of love is to love: no more, and no less. . . i knew that if i allowed myself to hate you that in the dry desert of existence over which i had to travel, and am travelling still, every rock would lose its shadow, every palm tree be withered, every well of water prove poisoned at its source. "

"suffering is one very long moment. we cannot divide it by seasons. we can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. with us time itself does not progress. it revolves. it seems to circle round one centre of pain. the paralysing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces, the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change. . . for us there is only one season, the season of sorrow. the very sun and moon seem taken from us. . . it is always twilight in one's cell, as it is always twilight in one's heart. and in the sphere of thought, no less than in the sphere of time, motion is no more. the thing that you personally have long ago forgotten, or can easily forget, is happening to me now, and will happen again to me tomorrow."

"prosperity, pleasure and success, may be rough of grain and common in fibre, but sorrow is the most sensitive of all created things. there is nothing that stirs in the whole world of thought to which sorrow does not vibrate in terrible and exquisite pulsation. the thin beaten-out leaf of tremulous gold that chronicles the direction of forces the eye cannot see is in comparison coarse. it is a wound that bleeds when any hand but that of love touches it, and even then must bleed again, though not in pain. . .  where there is sorrow there is holy ground."

"i must say to myself that i ruined myself, and that nobody great or small can be ruined except by his own hand. i am quite ready to say so. i am trying to say so, though they may not think it at the present moment. this pitiless indictment i bring without pity against myself. terrible as was what the world did to me, what i did to myself was far more terrible still."

"the gods had given me almost everything. i had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring; i made art a philosophy and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men and the colours of things; there was nothing i said or did that did not make people wonder. i took the drama, the most objective form known to art, and made it as personal a mode of expression as the lyric or sonnet; at the same time i widened its range and enriched its characterisation. drama, novel, poem in prose, poem in rhyme, subtle or fantastic dialogue, whatever i touched, i made beautiful in a new mode of beauty: to truth itself i gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful province, and showed that the false and the true are merely forms of intellectual existence. i treated art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction. i awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me. i summed up all systems in a phrase and all existence in an epigram. along with these things i had things that were different. but i let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. i amused myself with being a flaneur, a dandy, a man of fashion. i surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. i became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. tired of being on the heights, i deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation. what the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. i grew careless of the lives of others. i took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. i forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the house-tops. i did not know it. i allowed pleasure to dominate me. i ended in horrible disgrace. there is only one thing for me now, absolute humility."

"as long as i am free from all resentment, hardness, and scorn, i would be able to face the life with much more calm and confidence than i would were my body in purple and fine linen, and the soul within me sick with hate."

"reason does not help me. it tells me that the laws under which i am convicted are wrong and unjust laws, and the system under which i have suffered a wrong and unjust system. but somehow, i have got to make both of these things just and right to me. and exactly as in art one is only concerned with what a particular thing is at a particular moment to oneself, so it is also in the ethical evolution of one's character. i have got to make everything that has happened to me good for me."

"between the famous and the infamous there is but one step, if as much as one."

"a day in prison on which one does not weep is a day on which one's heart is hard, not a day on which one's heart is happy."

"people who use phrases without wisdom sometimes talk of suffering as a mystery. it is really a revelation. one discerns things one never discerned before. one approaches the whole of history from a different standpoint. what one had felt dimly, through instinct, about art, is intellectually and emotionally realised with perfect clearness of vision and absolute intensity of apprehension."

"a sentimentalist is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."

"what is true of a bankrupt is true of everyone else in life. for every single thing that is done some one has to pay. even you yourself - with all your desire for absolute freedom from all duties, your insistence on having everything supplied to you by others, your attempts to reject any claim on your affection, or regard, or gratitude - even you will have some day to reflect seriously on what you have done, and try, however unavailingly, to make some attempt at atonement."

"we all look at nature too much, and live with her too little. i discern great sanity in the greek attitude. they never chattered about sunsets, or discussed whether the shadows on the grass were really mauve or not. but they saw that the sea was for the swimmer, and the sand for the feet of the runner. they loved the trees for the shadow that they cast, and the forest for its silence at noon. . . we call ours a utilitarian age, and we do not know the uses of any single thing. we have forgotten that water can cleanse, and fire purify"

"remember also that i have yet to know you. perhaps we have yet to know each other. for yourself, i have but this last thing to say. do not be afraid of the past. if people tell you that it is irrevocable, do not believe them. . . time and space, succession and extension, are merely accidental conditions of thought. . . what lies before me is my past. i have got to make myself look on that with different eyes, to make the world look on it with different eyes, to make god look on it with different eyes. this i cannot do by ignoring it, or slighting it, or praising it, or denying it. it is only to be done fully by accepting it as an inevitable part of the evolution of my life and character: by bowing my head to everything that i have suffered."
In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike. Walter Pater
Read more at:
In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike. Walter Pater
Read more at:
In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike.
Read more at:
In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike.
Read more at:

Friday, February 26, 2016

this house

Quotes from four souls by louise erdrich

“for the doing of nothing can be taught in a certain way that makes the not-doing in itself an unnerving occurrence.”

“on the most exclusive ridge of the city, our pure white house was set, pristine as a cake in the window of a bakery shop. High on sloped and snowy grounds, it was unshadowed yet by trees. The roof, gables, porch, all chiseled and bored in fantastic shapes, were frosted with an overnight fall of gleaming snow. Clipped in cones and cubes, the shrubs were coated with the same lacquer, as was the fountain, frozen, and the white cast-iron lacework of the benches and the tea tables in the yard. The white deer at the gate, dusted with a sugar powder, pawed delicately at its pedestal and nosed the glittering air. The sun was high, small, its brilliance concentrated on this patch of royal blankness, which is why I imagine her arrival from an outside vantage, although I was within.

I see her walking up the pale drive constructed for the approach of a carriage (but what would she know of formal conveyance?). I see the negative of her as she stooped to her dark bundle, the image of a question mark set on a page, alone. Or like a keyhole, you could say, sunk into a door locked and painted shut, the deep black figure layered in shawls was more an absence, a slot for a coin, an invitation for the curious, than a woman come to plead for menial work.”

“they had this house of chimneys whose bricks contained the blood of pigs and calves so that a greasy sadness drifted in the festive rooms. They had this house of tears of lace constructed of a million tiny knots of useless knowledge. This house of windows hung with the desperation of dark virgins. They had this house of stacked sandstone colored the richest clay-red and lavender hue. Once this stone had formed the live heart of sacred islands. Now its was a fashionable backdrop to their ambitions. They had this house of crushed hands and horses dropping in padded collars and this house of the shame of miss polly gheen's inability to sexually attract the architect and the architect's obsession with doorways curving in and curving out and how to get them just so, eminently right. They had this house of railroad and then lumber money and the sucking grind of eastern mills. This house under which there might as well have been a child sacrificed, to lie underneath the corner beam's sunk sill, for money that remained unpaid for years to masons and to drivers was simple as food snatched outright. In fact, there is no question that a number of people of all ages lost their lives on account of this house.

That is the case, always, with great buildings and large doings. Placide knew this better than her husband, but both were nonplussed, and felt it simply was their fate to have this house of german silver sinks and a botanical nursery, of palm leaf moldings and foyers that led into foyers of pale, stained glass, this house of bathrooms floored with quiet marble, gray and finely veined. This house of lead plumbing that eroded minds. This house of beeswaxed mantels and carved paneling, of wooden benches set into the entryway wall and cornices and scrolls and heavy doors hung skillfully to swing shut without a sound – all this made of wood, fine-grained, very old-grown, quartersawn oak that still in its season and for many years after would exude beads of thin sap – as though recalling growth and life on the land belonging to fleur pillager and the shores of matchimanito, beyond.”

Thursday, February 25, 2016

i would prefer

all quotes from who's afraid of deleuze and guattari? by gregg lambert

"silence becomes a sign that 'points to' the limits of language. heidegger calls this event 'renunciation', which is 'not just a rejection of saying, not a mere lapse into silence.'
as a self-denial, renunciation remains Saying. it thus preserves a relation to the Word. but because the Word is shown in a different, higher rule, the relation to the Word must undergo a transformation. Saying attains to a different articulation, a different melos, a different tone. (heidegger 1971: 147)
 of course, for heidegger, this accounts for the phenomenon of the 'poem in language', which appears as a sign that points to the limits of what is sayable, to silence, as some thing that appears at the limits of language. hence, 'renunciation commits itself to a higher rule of the word which first lets a thing be as thing. the word makes the thing into a thing - it be-things the thing' (heidegger 1971:151)."

"for deleuze, as for the later heidegger, it is only in poetic speech that one can achieve this state of disequilibrium in one's own language. of course, children know all too well that language is in a constant state of disequilibrium and chock full of heterogenous elements, and i think deleuze and guattari's interest in the phenomenon of schizophrenic expression is a similar understanding of language as full of flows, cuts, violent blows, noxious particles and poisons, partial organs and unarticulated blocks of expressive noises."

"'if language emerges with speaking, it is only with a very particular kind of speaking, a poetic speech that actualizes these powers of bifurcation and variation, of heterogeneity and modulation, that are proper to language' (deleuze 1997:108). the poem is a phenomenon that happens when language achieves its function and shows the thing, for 'the sign is the language of thing'."

"the poem illustrates this perfectly, and here we have a vision of the power of language in its entirety, like a universe composed only of these elements that occupy different perspectives that are 'beside' and 'with' one another, but are not static, rather constituted by these two movements, which expand and contract at the same time to meet somewhere on the plane that is created by the poem. in other words, the more particular a red wheelbarrow becomes, the more general the white chickens. this is what deleuze defines as the 'paradoxical existence' of the being of the sensible."

Friday, February 19, 2016

from "art"

Serge  He is getting on my nerves. It’s true.
He’s getting on my nerves.
It’s this ingratiating tone of voice. A little smile behind every word.
It’s as if he’s forcing himself to be pleasant.
Don’t be pleasant, whatever you do, don’t be pleasant!
Could it be buying the Antrios? . . . Could buying the Antrios have triggered off this feeling of constraint between us?
Buying something. . . without his backing? . . .
Well, bugger his backing! Bugger your backing, Marc!

Marc  Could it be the Antrios, buying the Antrios?
No --
It started some time ago. . .
To be precise, it started on the day we were discussing some work of art and you uttered, quite seriously, the word deconstruction.
It wasn’t so much the word deconstruction which upset me, it was the air of solemnity you imbued it with.
You said, humourlessly, unapologetically, without a trace of irony, the word deconstruction, you, my friend.
I wasn’t sure how best to deal with the situation, so I made this throwaway remark, I said I think I must be getting intolerant in my old age, and you answered, who do you think you are? What makes you so high and mighty? . . .
What gives you the right to set yourself apart, Serge answered in the bloodiest possible way. And quite unexpectedly.
You’re just Marc, what makes you think you’re so special?
That day, I should have punched him in the mouth.
And when he was lying there on the ground, half-dead, I should have said to him, you’re supposed to be my friend, what sort of a friend are you, Serge, if you don’t think your friends are special?”

-Yasmina Reza, “Art”

Sunday, February 14, 2016

the agony of power

“history that repeats itself turns to farce. But a farce that repeats itself ends up making history.” -jean baudrillard

“in the classical – legal – conception of sovereignty, the monarch isn't just considered superior (“sovereign”) to his miserable subjects in relative terms. Ruling by divine right, his superiority is absolute and transcends vulgar human existence. Taking life or letting live are the sovereign's fundamental attributes. But only when he actually kills – even tyranically, unjustly – does the sovereign fully exert his symbolic rights over life. Foucault suggested that the punishment was all the more ruthless in that it was meant to offset the discontinuous hold of power over society. 'the meshes of the net were too big,' and eluded his grasp. This strategic vision of domination went a long way in accounting for the technological mutation of power in the west at the dawn of the industrial revolution. While outwardly maintaining the image of sovereignty, a new type of disciplinary control sank deeper into the social body, down to its most tenuous elements. What disappeared in the process was symbolic exchange. Foucault's inversion of the system of power from the top down, from the sovereignty of death to the discipline of life, follows the same logic. The new system of power which replaced the old in the nineteenth century had its own claims: the right to take life and let die. Life replaced death as a means of controlling society at large.

Hegel's master/slave dialectics was based on the slave's fear of death. Giving it a perverse twist, bataille hypothesized that there was not just one, but two separate forms of mastery. The first, relying on classical 'domination,' is geared to produce obedient subjects. The master rules because the slave is afraid of death, and he is not. But were the master to actually die, bataille objected, he would lose his mastery. The master was no different from the slave, and dialectics was a con-game. Both were ruled by the fear. Bataille went on to hypothesize another form of sovereignty that would be divorced from domination. The real sovereign is noble, in the nietzschean sense. He doesn't derive his power from his subjects, but from his own death. He only waits it to come, immune from any danger save the one who will murder him. It was in that way that bataille managed to reestablish a symbolic exchange where there was none.” - sylvere lotringer

“bataille looked upon capital as enslaving workers as being the same thing as the sovereign imposing obedience on his subjects. Just because the sovereign chose to let his subjects live didn't mean he let them free. They remained subjected to him in whatever function they carried out. Whether a prisoner of war, whose life was spared; a slave serving in sumptuary domesticity; an emancipated slave; or a serf in the fields, none of their lives were their own. They didn't have to die in order to be dead; their death was differed, kept in suspension, until the sovereign decided otherwise.

And the same holds true for the factory worker. Labor, bataille maintained, was a unilateral gift of capital to the workers and was meant 'to condemn them to a hideous degradation.' contrary to what marx believed, the process of production wasn't set up to extract from them a surplus-value, its real purpose was to subject them to a sacrifice. And bataille dismissed the american 'subterfuge' of compensating workers for the debasement that had been imposed on them. Nothing could modify the fundamental division between noble and ignoble men. 'the cruel game of social life does not vary among the different civilized countries, where the insulting splendor of the rich loses and degrades the human nature of the lower class.'

and 'the scenario has never changed,' baudrillard concurred, since labor power has been instituted on death. Having converted his death into a wage, the worker could only free himself by putting his own death on the line.” -lotringer

“unlike artaud and bataille, his older contemporaries, baudrillard never yearned for an inner experience of death reached through anguish, terror, or eroticism, yet he remained convinced that death as a form internal to the system was the only way left to offset it. As labor was slow death, only an instant and violent challenge could possibly free one from it. Against every 'revolutionary' view, he insisted, 'we must maintain that the only alternative to labor is not free time, or non-labor, it is sacrifice.'[39]” -lotringer

“premeditation of death is premeditation of freedom. . . acknowledging death frees us from every subjection and constraint” - montaigne

“power itself must be abolished – and not solely because of a refusal to be dominated, which is at the heart of all traditional struggles – but also, just as violently, in the refusal to dominate.” -baudrillard

“hegemony works through general masquerade, it relies on the excessive use of every sign and obscenity, the way it mocks its own values, and challenges the rest of the world by its cynicism (“carnivalization”). Classical, historical domination imposed a system of positive values, displaying as well as defending these values. Contemporary hegemony, on the other hand, relies on a symbolic liquidation of every possible value. The terms 'simulacrum,' 'simulation' and 'virtual' summarize this liquidation, in which every signification is eliminated in its own sign, and the profusion of signs parodies a by now unobtainable reality. This is the total masquerade in which domination itself is engulfed. Power is only the parody of the signs of power – just as war is only the parody of signs of war, including technology. Masquerade of war, masquerade of power. We can therefore speak of the hegemony of masquerade, and the masquerade of hegemony. All meaning is abolished in its own sign and the profusion of signs parodies a now undiscoverable reality.” -baudrillard

“power itself must be abolished – and not solely in the refusal to be dominated, which is at the heart of all traditional struggles – but also, just as violently, in the refusal to dominate (if the refusal to dominate had the same violence and the same energy as the refusal to be dominated, the dream of revolution would have disappeared long ago). Intelligence cannot, can never be in power because intelligence consists of this double refusal.” -baudrillard

“what is at stake in global confrontation is this provocation to generalized exchange, the unbridles exchange of all differences, the challenge for other cultures to equal us in deculturation, the debasement of values, the adhesion to the most disenchanted models. This confrontation is not quite a 'clash of civilizations,' but it is not economic or political either, and today it only concerns the west and islam in appearance. Fundamentally, it is a duel, and its stakes are symbolic: physical and mental liquidation, a universal carnivalization imposed by the west at the cost of its own humiliation, its symbolic expropriation – against all of the singularities that resist it. Challenge versus challenge? Potlatch versus potlatch? Does the slow-death strategy or systematic mortification equal the stakes of a sacrificial death? Can this confrontation come to an end and what could be the consequences if one or the other wins?” -baudrillard

“security is the best medium for terror.” -baudrillard

“in the past, totalitarian powers were the ones who enclosed themselves behind walls (the best historical example being the berlin wall) to escape the wave of 'democracy'. Now these 'democracies' are building protective walls to preserve the correct use of freedom from the hordes of immigrants or fanatics. If oppression was only possible behind the soviet iron wall, today, freedom is only possible behind the iron wall of democracy. . . we must therefore recognize that the west has become a totalitarian space – the space of a self-defensive hegemony defending itself against its own weakness.” -baudrillard

Saturday, February 13, 2016

borges and I

"the other one, the one called borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of buenos aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things. Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the outskirts to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.

I do not know which of us has written this page."

-jorge luis borges, from "parables"

Friday, February 12, 2016

ladders to fire

"away from him she could always say: he does not feel. but as soon as he appeared she was baffled. his presence carried such a physical glow that it passed for warmth. his voice was warm like the voice of feeling. his gestures were warm, his hands liked touch. he laid his hands often on human beings, and one might think it was love. but it was just physical warmth, like the summer. it gave off heat like a chemical, but no more."

"he will die of hardness, and i from feeling too much. even when people knock on the door i have a feeling they are not knocking on wood but on my heart. all the blows fall directly on my heart.

even pleasure had its little stabs upon the heart. the perpetual heart-murmur of the sensibilities.

i wish i could learn his secret. i would love to be able to go out for a whole night without feeling all the threads that bind me to him."

"but he knew nothing of her; he was no companion to her sadness. he could never imagine anyone else's mood, only his own. his own were so immense and loud, they filled his world and deafened him to all others. he was not concerned to know whether she could live or breathe within the dark caverns of his whale-like being, within the whale belly of his ego.

somehow he had convinced her that his expansiveness was a sign of bigness. a big man could not belong to one person."

"she knew as he did, that none of the decorations or dignities conferred upon a man or woman could alter the basic talent or lack of talent as a lover. no title of architect emeritus will confer upon them the magic knowledge of the body's structure. no prestidigitation with words will replace the knowledge of the secret places or responsiveness. no medals for courage will confer the graceful audacities, the conquering abductions, the exact knowledge of the battle of love, when the moment for seduction, when for consolidation, when for capitulation. the trade, art and craft that cannot be learned, which requires a divination of the fingertips, the accurate reading of signals from the fluttering of an eyelid, an eye like a microscope to catch the approval of an eyelash, a seismograph to catch the vibrations of the little blue nerves under the skin, the capacity to prognosticate from the direction of the down as from the inclination of the leaves some can predict rain, tell where storms are brooding, where floods are threatening, tell which regions to leave alone, which to invade, which to lull and which to take by force."

-all quotes from ladders to fire by anais nin

Thursday, February 11, 2016


“because i neither played in the wind
nor lived on the equator
nothing charmed me but sleeplessness
and a tree which doesn’t bend to a storm
and a building which doesn’t shake.”

-naguib mahfouz, from the beggar

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

the dream of destroying

"a science which is postulated on the assumption that human beings are avaricious and will remain avaricious through all eternity is utterly devoid of point (whether in problems of distribution or any other aspect) to a person who is not avaricious. and yet as i read this book, i felt a strange excitement for quite another reason - the sheer courage the author demonstrated in tearing apart without hesitation all manner of conventional ideas. however much i may oppose morality, i am powerless to prevent the image floating before my eyes of the wife of the man i love, coolly and quickly hurrying back to his house. then my thoughts turn destructive. destruction is tragic and piteous and beautiful. the dream of destroying, building anew, perfecting. perhaps even, once one has destroyed, the day of perfecting may never come, but in the passion of love i must destroy."

-osamu dazai, the setting sun

Sunday, February 7, 2016


"as far as laurel had ever known, there had not happened a single blunder in their short life together. but the guilt of outliving those you love is justly to be borne, she thought. outliving is something we do to them, the fantasies of dying could be no stranger than the fantasies of living. surviving is perhaps the strangest fantasy of them all."

-eudora welty, the optimist's daughter

Saturday, February 6, 2016

to have an end in view

“. . .nothing persists. One moment does not lead to another. The door opens and the tiger leaps out did not see me come. I circled round the chairs to avoid the horror of the spring. I am afraid of you all. I am afraid of the shock of sensation that leaps upon me, because I cannot deal with it as you do – I cannot make one moment merge in the next. To me they are all violent, all separate; and if I fall under the shock of the leap of the moment you will be on me, tearing me to pieces. I have no end in view. I do not know how to run minute to minute and hour to hour, solving them by some natural force until they make the whole and indivisible mass that you call life. Because you have an end in view – one person, is it, to sit beside, an idea is it, your beauty is it? I do not know – your days and hours pass like the boughs of forest trees and the smooth green forest rides to hound running on the scent. But there is no single scent, no single body for me to follow. And I have no face. I am like the foam that races over the beach or the moonlight that falls arrowlike here on a tin can, here on a spike of the mailed sea holly, or a bone or a half-eaten boat. I am whirled down caverns, and flap like paper against endless corridors, and must press my hand against the wall to draw myself back.”

“but since I wish above all things to have lodgment, I pretend, as I go upstairs lagging behind jinny and susan, to have an end in view. I pull on my stockings as I see them pull on theirs. I wait for you to speak and then speak like you. I am drawn here across london to a particular spot, to a particular place, not to see you or you or you, but to light my fire at the general blaze of you who live wholly, indivisibly and without caring.”

from the waves by virginia woolf

Thursday, February 4, 2016

stanzas for an imaginary garden

by octavio paz (from itinerary)

the first eight lines describe a somewhat rural, provincial garden. a small enclosure with two entrances. apart from the palm tree already there, you should plant bougainvillaeas, heliotrope, an ash and a pine. you should also install a well. this first text could be placed on one of the entrances to the little garden, either as one stanza on the lintel or on the pediment, or divided into two quartets, one on each of the doorposts:

four adobe walls. bougainvillaeas.
in its quiet flames, eyes
can bathe themselves. the wind passes through leaves
singing praises and herbs on their knees.

the heliotrope crosses over with purple steps,
wrapped in its own aroma. there is a prophet:
the ash tree -- and a meditative: the pine.
the garden is small, the sky infinite.

these four lines could be placed on the other entrance, on the lintel or pediment:

happy rectangle: some palm trees,
jade fountains; time glows,
water sings, the stone is silent, the soul,
suspended in a moment of time, is a fountain.

this text could be placed in the inside of the garden. for example, on the fountain. i imagine a wall over which a curtain of transparent water falls as you read the four lines:

rain, dancing feet and loosened hair,
ankle bitten by lightning,
falls down accompanied by drums:
the tree opens its eyes, revives.


written after visiting the place:

populous wasteland, a few palms,
plucked feather dusters, hammering
of motors, a prison wall,
dust and rubbish, nobody’s home.

written remembering the imaginary garden:

green survives in my ruins:
in my eyes you look and touch yourself,
you know yourself in me and in me think yourself,
in me you survive, in me you vanish.