yesterday i was crying in my room and a girl heard my sobs even though i utilized a pillow to muffle them and asked if she could come in. then she read a herman hesse story where the character or author — consumed by a certain velleity of not appreciating the far-off character of either the path north or the path south — walks into a field by whim and decides that the world is lovelier than ever before.
(the story was accompanied by shitty watercolors)
in kierkegaard’s elucidation of the sickness unto death, the self is defined as the relation which relates itself to its own self — the self is a soliloquy. and thus arises the despair of infinitude which lacks finitude — our envisioning of extraordinary fantasy — and possibility lacking necessity — entirely becoming and the subsequent evaporation in velleity yes yes that is the word — but without such a stringent relation you lack infinitude thus close mindedness or lack possibility thus triviality — as i’m inclined to categorize the hesse.
and if you can know someone in a moment but not over a period of time, or over a period of time but not in a moment, how can there ever be an aristotelian mean?
i’m reminded of a chekhov story of exile in siberia. even in siberia one can live! with nothing. nothing. materials decay. but — if you arrived in heaven, would you be able to recognize it?
Tired of his Spanish land, an old soldier of the king sought solace in the vast geographies of Ariosto, in that valley of the moon where the time wasted by dreams is contained and in the golden idol of Mohammed stolen by Montalbán.
In gentle mockery of himself, he imagined a credulous man who, perturbed by his readings of marvels, decided to seek prowess and enchantment in prosaic places called El Toboso or Montiel.
Vanquished by reality, by Spain, Don Quixote died in his native village in the year 1614. He was survived but a short time by Miguel de Cervantes.
For both of them, for the dreamer and the dreamed one, the whole scheme of the work consisted in the opposition of two worlds: the unreal world of the books of chivalry, the ordinary everyday world of the seventeenth century.
They did not suspect that the years would finally smooth away that discord, they did not suspect that La Mancha and Montiel and the knight’s lean figure would be, for posterity, no less poetic than the episodes of Sinbad or the vast geographies of Ariosto.
For in the beginning of literature is myth, and in the end as well." — Jorge Luis Borges — “Parable of Cervantes and the Quixote" trans. James E. Irby
Proof that inadequate, even childish measures may serve to rescue one from peril:
To protect himself from the Sirens Ulysses stopped his ears with wax and had himself bound to the mast of his ship. Naturally any and every traveler before him could have done the same, except those whom the Sirens allured even from a great distance; but it was known to all the world that such things were of no help whatever. The song of the Sirens could pierce through everything, and the longing of those they seduced would have broken far stronger bonds than chains and masts. But Ulysses did not think of that, although he had probably heard of it. He trusted absolutely to his handful of wax and his fathom of chain, and in innocent elation over his little stratagem sailed out to meet the Sirens.
Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing has never happened, still it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never. Against the feeling of having triumphed over them by one’s one strength, and the consequent exaltation that bears down everything before it, no earthly powers can resist.
And when Ulysses approached them the potent songstresses actually did not sing, whether because they thought that this enemy could be vanquished only by their silence, or because the look of bliss on the face of Ulysses, who was thinking of nothing but his wax and his chains, made them forget their singing.
But Ulysses, if one may so express it, did not hear their silence; he thought they were singing and that he alone did not hear them. For a fleeting moment he saw their throats rising and falling, their breasts lifting, their eyes filled with tears, their lips half-parted, but believed that these were accompaniments to the airs which died unheard around him. Soon, however, all this faded from his sight as he fixed his gaze on the distance, the Sirens literally vanished before his resolution, and at the very moment when they were nearest to him he knew of them no longer.
But they—lovelier than ever—stretched their necks and turned, let their awesome hair flutter free in the wind, and freely stretched their claws on the rocks. They no longer had any desire to allure; all that they wanted was to hold as long as they could the radiance that fell from Ulysses’ great eyes.
If the Sirens had possessed consciousness they would have been annihilated at that moment. But they remained as they had been; all that had happened was that Ulysses had escaped them.
A codicil to the foregoing has also been handed down. Ulysses, it is said, was so full of guile, was such a fox, that not even the goddess of fate could pierce his armor. Perhaps he had really noticed, although here the human understanding is beyond its depths, that the Sirens were silent, and held up to them and to the gods the aforementioned pretense merely as a sort of shield." — Franz Kafka — “The Silence of the Sirens” trans. Willa and Edwin Muir
There are four legends concerning Prometheus:
According to the first he was clamped to a rock in the Caucasus for betraying the secrets of the gods to men, and the gods sent eagles to feed on his liver, which was perpetually renewed.
According to the second Prometheus, goaded by the pain of the tearing beaks, pressed himself deeper and deeper into the rock until he became one with it.
According to the third his treachery was forgotten in the course of thousands of years, forgotten by the gods, the eagles, forgotten by himself.
According to the fourth everyone grew weary of the meaningless affair. The gods grew weary, the eagles grew weary, the wound closed wearily.
There remained the inexplicable mass of rock. The legend tried to explain the inexplicable. As it came out of a substratum of truth it had in turn to end in the inexplicable." — Franz Kafka — “Prometheus” trans. Willa and Edwin Muir
"It cannot be claimed that we are lacking in belief. The mere fact of our being alive is an inexhaustible font of belief."
"The fact of our being alive a font of belief? But what else can we do but live?"
"It’s in the ‘what else’ that the immense force of belief resides: it is the exclusion that gives it its form."
It isn’t necessary that you leave home. Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t wait, be still and alone. The whole world will offer itself to you to be unmasked, it can do no other, it will writhe before you in ecstasy." — Franz Kafka — Zürau Aphorism no. 109 trans. Michael Hoffman
There are innumerable hiding places and only one salvation, but the possibilities of salvation are as numerous as the hiding places.
There is a destination but no way there; what we refer to as way is hesitation." — Franz Kafka — Zürau Aphorism no. 26 trans. Michael Hoffman
The sole way, it seemed to her often enough when she was working at writing a poem, to use words with meaning, would be to choose words for themselves, and invest them with her own meaning: not her own, perhaps, but meaning which was implicit in their shape, too frequently nothing to do with dictionary definition. The words which the tradition of her art offered her were by now in chaos, coerced through the contexts of a million inanities, the printed page everywhere opiate, row upon row of compelling idiocies disposed to induce stupor, coma, necrotic convulsion; and when they reached her hands they were brittle, straining and cracking, sometimes they broke under the burden which her tense will imposed, and she found herself clutching their fragments, attempting again with this shabby equipment her raid on the inarticulate.
So for instance she stole comatulid, and her larceny went unnoticed by science which chose it to mean “a free-swimming stalkless crinoid …” and crinoid: lily-shaped (though this word belonged to the scientists too, Crinoidea, a large class of echinoderms). And the phylum Echinodermata she left far behind, left the starfishes, the sea urchins, and their allies to grope in peace in the dark water of the sea. Comatulid lay on the paper under her pen; while she struggled to reach it through the rubble amassed by her memory.
It was through this imposed accumulation of chaos that she struggled to move now: beyond it lay simplicity, unmeasurable, residence of perfection, where nothing was created, where originality did not exist: because it was origin: where once she was there work and thought in causal and stumbling sequence did not exist, but only transcription: where the poem she knew but could not write existed, ready-formed, awaiting recovery in that moment when the writing down of it was impossible: because she was the poem. Her hand tipped toward the paper, black stroke the pen made there, but only that stroke, line of uncertainty. She called her memory, screamed for it, trying to scream through it and beyond it, damned accumulation that bound her in time: my memory, my bed, my stomach, my terror, my hope, my poem, my God: the meanness of my. Must the flames of hell be ninety-story blazes? or simply these small sharp tongues of fire that nibble and fall to, savoring the edges and then consume, swept by the wind of terror at exposing one’s self, losing the aggregate of meannesses which compose identity, in flames never reaching full roaring crescendo but scorch through a life like fire in grass, in the world of time the clock tells. Every tick, synchronized, tears off a fragment of the lives run by them, the circling hands reflected in those eyes watching their repetition in an anxiety which draws the whole face toward pupiled voids and finally, leaves lines there, uncertain strokes woven into the flesh, the fabric of anxiety, double-webbed round dark-centered jellies which reflect nothing. Only that fabric remains, pleached in the pattern of the bondage which has a beginning and an end, with scientific meanness in attention to details, of a thousand things which should not have happened, and did; of myriad mean events which should have happened, and did not: waited for, denied, until life is lived in fragments, unrelated until death, and the wrist watch stops.
The pen quivered over the paper, added inae to comatulid, and then carefully crossed out that free suffix; and then brought comatulid into the tangle of black ink, ash she moved toward that world not world where the needle took her. It was the uncircumscribed, unbearable, infinitely extended, indefinitely divisible void where she swam in orgasm, soaring into a vastness away from the heaving indignity of the posture she shared; the world of music so intensely known that nothing exists but the music; it was the world of ecstasy they all approximated by different paths, one world in which temporary residence is prohibited, as the agonies of recall attest: “Love’s dart” that wounds but does not kill; the ill complained of, but prized above every joy and earthly good; “sweet cautery,” the “stolen heart,” the “ravished understanding,” the “rape of love”: In Provençal, conoscenza. Thus Saint Teresa, qudrupedis, “dying of not being able to die.”" — William Gaddis — from “The Recognitions”
Goethe or the metamorphosis of plants (Goethe ou la metamorphose des plantes)
[here] is the poem and treatise on the homologous nature of plants
"I cannot tell you how readable the book of nature is becoming for me; my long efforts at deciphering, letter by letter, have helped me; now all of a sudden it is having its effect, and my quiet joy is inexpressible."
—Goethe to Charlotte von Stein, 1786