Du im Voraus
verlorne Geliebte, Nimmergekommene,
nicht weiß ich, welche Töne dir lieb sind.
Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommende wogt,
before the beginning, who never came,
I do not know which sounds might be precious to you.
No longer do I try to recognize you, when, as a surging wave,
something is about to manifest.
that peacock-fanor help us to grieve the loss of our infinite lives:
The future was, in which temptingly spread
All that elaborative nature can.
Matchless potential! but unlimited
Only so long as I elected nothing;
Simply to choose stopped all ways up but one,
And sent the tease-birds from the bushes flapping.
No future now.
At least, literature can give us the illusion. The fictional worlds. "Ich stelle mir vor:", "I imagine:", says Frisch's Gantenbein incessantly, and each time, after the colon, he offers us a new story, a new version of his life. "Mein Name sei Gantenbein", "Let my name be Gantenbein", not even this "be" can photography offer...
There is no past unreal conditional in Japanese. Not even present conditional. This came as a great shock to me when I first learned it. What would the universe, what would life itself look like in the eyes of people who cannot think the possible through their language? Maybe this explains the japanese obsession with photography, a whole nation driven by an insane mania, to hunt down ephemerality, to expose it in the perfect picture. The arrested image, the clear wound of time: its perishability, the central trait of japanese aesthetics. Beauty defined primarily by its impermanence. If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in this world, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty (Kenko, Essays in Idleness).
Still... what about the evanescence of the possible?