December 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Anne Carson, Eros: The Bittersweet
The Greek word eros denotes “want,” “lack,” “desire for that which is missing.” The lover wants what he does not have. It is by definition impossible for him to have what he wants if, as soon as it is had, it is no longer wanting. This is more than wordplay. There is a dilemma within eros that has been thought crucial by thinkers from Sappho to the present day. Plato turns and returns to it. Four of his dialogues explore what it means to say that desire can only be for what is lacking, not at hand, not present, not in one’s posession nor in one’s being: eros entails endeia. As Diotima puts it in the Symposium, Eros is a bastard got by Wealth on Poverty and ever at home in a life of want. Hunger is the analog chosen by Simone Weil for this conundrum:
‘All our desires are contradictory, like the desire for food. I want the person I love to love me. If he is, however, totally devoted to me he does not exist any longer and I cease to love him. And as long as he is not totally devoted to me he does not love me enough. Hunger and repletion.”
Emily Dickinson puts the case more pertly in “I Had Been Hungry”:
So I found
that hunger was a way
of persons outside windows
that entering takes away.
[...] Who ever desires what is not gone? No one. The Greeks were clear on this. They invented Eros to express it.
December 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,” Four Quartets
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
December 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station, 2011: 144
But my research had taught me that the tissue of contradictions that was my personality was itself, at best, a poem, where “poem” is understood as referring to a failure of language to be equal to the possibilities it figures …
December 1, 2013 § 1 Comment
The artist must avoid thinking like a writer.
[So should the writer.]
November 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station
Although I claimed to be a poet, although my supposed talent as a writer had earned me my fellowship in Spain, I tended to find lines of poetry beautiful only when I encountered them quoted in prose, in the essays my professors had assigned in college, where the line breaks were replaced with slashes, so that what was communicated was less a particular poem than the echo of poetic possibility.
[See Witold Gombrowicz.]
November 23, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I don’t write books. Nearly all books are footnotes that have been swollen into volumes. I only write footnotes.
November 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Roland Barthes, The Neutral: Lecture Course at the Collège de France p. 13
As a general rule, desire is always marketable: we don’t do anything but sell, buy, exchange desires […] And I think of Bloy’s words: “there is nothing perfectly beautiful except what is invisible and above all unbuyable” [via].
October 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Chris Petit, “Fragments of the Lost Library,” Museum of Loneliness website 2013
The Answer to Life is No by Anonymous (1960, Rupert Hart-Davis)
Blaming by Elizabeth Taylor (1976, Chatto and Windus)
Negative Space by Manny Farner (1971, Studio Vista)
A Voyage in Vain by Alethea Hayter (1973, Faber)
Nothing by Henry Green (1950, Viking Press)
Exquisite Pain by Sophie Calle (2005, Thames and Hudson)
Let me Alone by Anna Kavan (1974, Peter Owen)
The Greater Infortune by Rayner Heppenstall; dedicated to Muriel Spark (1960, Peter Owen)
The Secret of Evil by Roberto Bolaño (2012, New Directions)
A Sense of Guilt by Georges Simenon (1955, Hamish Hamilton)
October 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
William Shakespeare, Richard III II, 2
I’ll join with black despair against my soul, / And to myself become an enemy.
October 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
William Gaddis, The Recognitions, 1955
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.