Thursday, 30 October 2008

revenge of a mortal hand

Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Wislawa Szymborska (from The Joy of Writing)

Note: I chose this quote in response to Kubla's comment on my previous post, in which he argues that writing doesn't get us anywhere and wonders why we keep on writing anyway. I have mixed feelings about this poem, I like the first part but not the ending, I don't know about the revenge of a mortal hand, even if I understand that this can be a motivation for many. I don't think there is a time we can bind with chains of signs. No time can be bound, there is no 'next time', we can never begin again. Still, it is a poet's answer and maybe when the words desert us, we should always turn to those voices which resound in our hearts.
and I don't believe in the joy of writing either, but then I am not a writer. nevertheless, I believe in the joy of photographing. no, maybe I am wrong: when the words desert us, we should turn to images and sounds and most of all, to gestures. the tenderness and yet ambiguity of a mortal hand.


  1. don't like "the power of preserving" - it's too strong, too confident. but i do like "revenge of a mortal hand". guess i do feel there's something of that in writing, in all art - i would even like it better if it were put more generally: not as an individual revenge, but as a 'human' one - "revenge of mortal hands" - art as a longing for a relative permanence of our signs, leaving "little tracks of non-time" (which is not the same as 'binding' time!)

  2. perhaps we desert the words, and the images, and turn to Love... the expansive...

    i like the idea "revenge of a mortal hand" though revenge is a strange word, a poet's tool--if what we leave behind resonates with help, that someone finds it speaks to their heart, a bit, to help ... it is good--

    who can untangle the tangle... its so much

  3. I think this is a very powerful picture, it seems to me that her fingers form a strange symbol of sorts.

  4. fff, actually I don't like the ending three lines, The joy of writing.
    The power of preserving.
    Revenge of a mortal hand.
    I don't know why, maybe because it is not at all ambiguous, it sounds like a programmatic statement, the meaning is suddenly more important than the poetical effect. even if I agree with it. but for me the idea of expressing/understanding oneself is more important than the longing to preserve and thus to 'revenge' our mortal nature.

  5. mansuetude, yes, I feel like this too, it is too much. but if it helps some, than it is good, as you say, it doesn't matter how or why...

  6. sorlil, I don't think the picture is very good, but I was drawn to the shape of her hand/fingers, you felt it too, it seems to me that there is some mystery, some secret hidden in there, yet half revealed...

  7. well, R - I agree at least about 2 out of the 3 sentences: "The joy of writing.
    The power of preserving."
    As frail as WS looks - here she indeed is pounding away, most heavily-progammatically.:-)
    But then, "revenge of a mortal hand" - too simple an image perhaps, but to me , still poetical. And, um, R... - perhaps that hand may have struck a chord with your poetic sensibility too ...the photo betrays you! ;-)