Literature in Mexico is like a nursery school, a kindergarten, a playground, a kiddie club, if you follow me. The weather is good, it’s sunny, you can go out and sit in the park and open a book by Valéry, possibly the writer most read by Mexican writers, and then you go over to a friend’s house and talk. And yet your shadow isn’t following you anymore. At some point your shadow has quietly slipped away. You pretend you don’t notice, but you have, you’re missing your fucking shadow, though there are plenty of ways to explain it, the angle of the sun, the degree of oblivion induced by the sun beating down on hatless heads, the quantity of alcohol ingested, the movement of something like subterranean tanks of pain, the fear of more contingent things, a disease that begins to become apparent, wounded vanity, the desire just for once in your life to be on time.
Florence Marly as the mysterious and deadly alien Queen of Blood -1966 sci-fi horror.
She has a single photograph of him, a black-and-white print. She preserves it carefully, because it’s almost all she has left of him. The photo is of the two of them together, her and this man, on a picnic. Picnic is written on the back — not his name or hers, just picnic. She knows the names, she doesn’t need to write them down.
They’re sitting under a tree; it must have been an apple tree. She has a wide skirt tucked around her knees. It was a hot day. Holding her hand over the picture, she can still feel the heat coming up from it. He’s wearing a light-coloured hat, partially shading his face. She’s turned half towards him, smiling in a way she can’t remember smiling at anyone since. She seems very young in the picture. He’s smiling too, but he’s holding up his hand between himself and the camera, as if to fend it off. As if to fend her off, in the future, looking back at them. As if to protect her. Between his fingers is the stub of a cigarette.
She retrieves the photograph when she’s alone, and lies it flat on the table and stares down into it. She examines every detail: his smoky fingers, the bleached folds of their clothing, the unripe apples hanging in the tree, the dying grass in the foreground. Her smiling face. The photo has been cut; a third of it has been cut off. In the lower left corner there’s a hand, scissored off at the wrist, resting on the grass. It’s the hand of the other one, the one who is always in the picture whether seen or not. The hand that will set things down.
How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next — if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions — you’d be doomed. You’d be as ruined as God. You’d be a stone. You’d never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You’d never love anyone, ever again. You’d never dare to.
Drowned now — the tree as well, the sky, the wind, the clouds. All she has left is the picture. Also the story of it.
The picture is of happiness, the story not. Happiness is a garden walled with glass: there’s no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road." — Margaret Atwood — from The Blind Assassin
the first book that i bought with my own money was the collected poems of keats when i was thirteen or fourteen
what was yours?
As to the poetical Character itself (I mean that sort of which, if I am any thing, I am a Member; that sort distinguished from the wordsworthian or egotistical sublime; which is a thing per se and stands alone) it is not itself - it has no self - it is every thing and nothing - It has no character - it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated - It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosopher, delights the camelion Poet. It does no harm from its relish of the dark side of things any more than from its taste for the bright one; because they both end in speculation. A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity - he is continually in for - and filling some other Body - The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute - the poet has none; no identity - he is certainly the most unpoetical of all God’s Creatures. If then he has no self, and if I am a Poet, where is the Wonder that I should say I would write no more? Might I not at that very instant have been cogitating on the Characters of Saturn and Ops? It is a wretched thing to confess; but is a very fact that not one word I ever utter can be taken for granted as an opinion growing out of my identical nature - how can it, when I have no nature? When I am in a room with People if I ever am free from speculating on creations of my own brain, then not myself goes home to myself: but the identity of every one in the room begins so to press upon me that I am in a very little time annihilated - not only among Men; it would be the same in a Nursery of children: I know not whether I make myself wholly understood: I hope enough so to let you see that no despondence is to be placed on what I said that day.
In the second place I will speak of my views, and of the life I purpose to myself. I am ambitious of doing the world some good: if I should be spared that may be the work of maturer years - in the interval I will assay to reach to as high a summit in Poetry as the nerve bestowed upon me will suffer. The faint conceptions I have of Poems to come brings the blood frequently into my forehead. All I hope is that I may not lose all interest in human affairs - that the solitary indifference I feel for applause even from the finest Spirits, will not blunt any acuteness of vision I may have. I do not think it will - I feel assured I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful even if my night’s labours should be burnt every morning, and no eye ever shine upon them. But even now I am perhaps not speaking from myself: but from some character in whose soul I now live. I am sure however that this next sentence is from myself. I feel your anxiety, good opinion and friendliness in the highest degree, and am" — John Keats in a letter to Richard Woodhouse — October 27th, 1818
Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill." — T. S. Eliot — from “East Coker” in Four Quartets
etymology lesson of the day:
the term ‘hocus pocus’ — hocas pocas being the common name of a magician or juggler — is a perversion of ‘hoc est corpus meum, Dominus [this is my body, Lord]’ from the Roman Catholic liturgy of the Eucharist
the word ‘hoax’ either directly comes from ‘hocus’ or is a shortening of ‘hoc est’
As it has been, and apparently ever shall be, gods, superseded, become the devils in the system which supplants their reign, and stay on to make trouble for their successors, available, as they are, to a few for whom magic has not despaired, and been superseded by religion.
Holy things and holy places, out of mind under the cauterizing brilliance of the summer sun, reared up now as the winter sun struck from the south, casting shadows coldly up the avenues where the people followed and went in, wearing winter hearts on their sleeves for the plucking. Slightly offended by Bach and Palestrina, short memories reached back, struggling toward Origen, that most extraordinary Father of the Church, whose third-century enthusiasm led him to castrate himself so that he might repeat the hoc est corpus meum, Dominus, without the distracting interference of the rearing shadow of the flesh. They looked; but he was nowhere about, so well had he done his work, and the churches were so crowded that many were forced to suffer the Birth in cocktail lounges, and bars. So well had Origen succeeded, sowing his field without a seed, that the conspiracy, conceived in light, born, bred in darkness, and harassed to maturity in dubious death and rapturous martyrdom, continued. Miserere nobis, said the mitered lips. Vae victis, the statistical heart.
Tragedy was forsworn, in ritual denial of the ripe knowledge that we are drawing away from one another, that we share only one thing, share the fear of belonging to another, or to others, or to God; love or money, tender equated in advertising and the world, where only money is currency, and under dead trees and brittle ornaments prehensile hands exchange forgeries of what the heart dare not surrender." —
William Gaddis — from The Recognitions
T. S. Eliot, “East Coker”: Do not let me hear / Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, / Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, / Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God