Friday, 29 August 2008

in our thirst-haunted dreams...

You all know the wild grief that besets us when we remember times of happiness. How far beyond recall they are, and we are severed from them by something more pitiless than leagues and miles. In the afterlight, too, the images stand out more enticing than before...

And constantly in our thirst-haunted dreams we grope for the past in its every detail, in its every line and fold. Then it cannot but seem to us as if we had not had our fill of love and life; yet no regret brings back what has been let slip. Would that this mood might be a lesson to us for each moment of our happiness.

Ernst Jünger (On the Marble Cliffs)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

yet what happens

Lasă-mă să-ţi amintesc de gândul filozofului antic ce se întreba:

când aduni pe unu cu unu, care unu se adună cu celălalt?

Care unu devine doi?

Au stat muţi matematicienii în faţa unei asemenea întrebări

căci ei nu ştiu decât de mărimi comutative.

Dar când prietenul întâlneşte prietenul?

Constantin Noica, Trei poeme filozofice pentru S. (Poemul I)

let me remind you of the ancient philosopher’s thought

who used to ask himself: when one is added to one

which one is added to which one?

which one becomes two?

silent remained the mathematicians before such a question

because they only knew of commutative elements.

yet what happens when the friend meets the friend?

Constantin Noica, Three Philosophical Poems for S.

(Poem I)


Constantin Noica: Romanian philosopher, close friend of Cioran and Ionesco, who chose to refuse the exile because he believed in resisting history through culture. He tried to set up the example of a Romanian paideia but there are many voices who accuse him now of having made a pact with the regime in order to be able to pursue his dream. As an anecdote, he used to select his disciples after a several hours’ discussion in German. Oh yes, and they were asked to learn ancient Greek, of course – and if possibly, Latin too. I think this makes A very happy :-).

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

instead of 'ars poetica' 2

The Glimpse.
The waves, as I drove back this afternoon, and the high foam, how it was suspended in the air before it fell... What is it that happens in that moment of suspension? It is timeless. In that moment (what do I mean) the whole life of the soul is contained. One is flung up - out of life - one is 'held', and then, - down, bright, broken, glittering on to the rocks, tossed back, part of the ebb and flow.
I don't want to be sentimental. But while one hangs, suspended in the air, held - while I watched the spray, I was conscious for life of the white sky with a web of torn grey over it; of the slipping, sliding, slithering sea; of the dark woods blotted against the cape; of the flowers on the tree I was passing; and more - of a huge cavern where my selves (who were like ancient sea-weed gatherers) mumbled, indifferent and intimate...

Katherine Mansfield, who doesn't write about pictures here, but for me this is what photography is about: the glimpse.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Friday, 15 August 2008

I cleansed the mirror
of my heart...
now it reflects
the moon.


I won't even stop
at the valley's brook
for fear that
my shadow
may flow into the world.


Through one word, or seven words, or three times five, even if you investigate thoroughly myriad forms, nothing can be depended upon. Night advances, the moon glows and falls into the ocean. The black dragon jewel you have been searching for, is everywhere.


note: these pictures were taken at a tea ceremony in Sendai, Japan, 2006.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

a matter of principle

Ce nenorocire să ştiu
Că nu exi
şti decât în mine,
Să nu te simt în nici un fel
Și totu
şi să nu mă îndoiesc
Că e
şti acolo!
Dar dacă, totu
şi, m-ai părăsit
Și eu îngrijesc cu supunere
Și ridicol devotament
Frumosii pereti ai statuii
Goale pe dinlăuntru -
Fără nici o fisură
Prin care să se poată zări ceva -
Întrebând încet, cu spaimă, din când in când,
'Ești acolo?',
şi ştiu că tu nu răspunzi
Din principiu...

Ana Blandiana

What a distress to know
That you only exist inside me,
To be unable to feel you
And yet to have no doubt
That you are there!
But what if you, nevertheless, have left me
And, compliantly, and with ridiculous devotion,
I keep looking after
The beautiful walls
Of a hollow statue -
Without a crack
To see through -
Asking quietly, fearfully, from time to time,
'Are you there?',
Although I know you don't answer
On principle...

trans. by alina

Saturday, 9 August 2008

on forgetting

I thought to pick
the flower of forgetting
for myself,
but I found it
already growing in his heart.

Ono no Komachi

on not forgetting

When longing for him
Tortures me beyond endurance,
I reverse my robe --
Garb of night, black as leopard-flower berries --
And wear it inside out.

Ono no Komachi

Thursday, 7 August 2008

ways of parting

When we walked out I saw the sky again after all the day's blindness -
little clouds and big clouds.
We said good-bye at Vinden's.
That is all.

I. They meet and just touch.
II. They come together and part.
III. They are separated and meet again.
IV. They realize their tie.

'you merely find yourself in the old position of trying to change me. And I refuse to be changed. I won't change. If I don't feel these things - I don't feel them, and there's an end of it.'
For a moment he stood there, cold, frigid, grasping the door-handle, staring not at her but over her head. He looked like a stranger who had opened her door by accident, and felt it necessary, for some reason or other, to explain the accident before he closed it again and went out of her life for ever.

'It's curious - my absolute confidence that I'll come back. I feel it's as certain as this pear'.
'I feel that too.'
'I couldn't not come back. You know that feeling. It's awfully mysterious.'

The shadows on the grass are long and strange; a puff of strange wind whispers in the ivy and the old moon touched them with silver. She shivers.

'You're cold'.
'Dreadfully cold'.
He puts his arm around her. Suddenly he kisses her - 'Good-bye, darling.'
'Ah, why do you say that?'
'Darling, good-bye... good-bye!'

(excerpts from Katherine Mansfield's Journal. The last one records one of her conversations with her brother, a week before his going to the front, where he was killed almost immediately.)

note: I had been pondering over this quotes for some time now, but reading Kubla's entry When they met last made me wish to make this post.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

with Gloom, my squire

I was the moony knight, the moony scion,
all golden thread, all iron,
with a Golden Snail inlaid in my arms.
My device, "Easy does it",
and below, the saw, "Quod licet".
My squire, Gloom, on my right,
ever loyal. And night
would follow with its nightingales.
The forest would endite
my lays.
Oh leaf, little leaf, what do you know
of my woe -
sing on, sing away
the old lay,
"It's of forests, of fields,
of a soul that was slain
among trees, in a dream,
of the lamp of the moon
that lights up scenes in Paradise,
it's of a solitary place".
I was the moony knight,
moonier than the moon at night,
with Gloom, my squire, on a rare night -

Emil Botta (The Knight of the Golden Snail)
trans. by Dan Dutescu