Sunday 15 June 2008

where I am

I imagine a white room, stark, bare, utterly simple, hidden from the world. At eleven o'clock people in the city are busy, making phone calls, preparing, getting and spending... blind to it, unaware of it's hushed silence. It is like an attic flooded with light or a white boat on the white sea. It doesn't exist. Or perhaps it does.

A white hand floating weightlessly in a white field.

The face of lost things, the face of last things. Lace curtains flapping, then curving softly outwards towards her, and then breathing in. Patterns of light and shade dance on the floor. The un-created world, the pre-world, a white paradise of all possibilities, where sleep is the beautiful dream of a dying man.

C'est entre la hanche et les côtes, sur l'endroit que l'on nomme le flanc que c'est arrivé. Sur cet endroit caché, très tendre, qui ne recouvre ni des os ni des muscles, mais des organes délicats. Une fleur y a poussé. Qui me tue.

Marguerite Duras

It is between the hip and the ribs, on the spot known as the flank, that it happened. In this hidden place, so soft, covering but delicate organs,
no bones or muscles. A flower has blossomed. Killing me.

La vida es sueño

you would like to murmur, perhaps to shout out,
while through your clenched mouth
there gushes the redeeming blood of an unknown flower.
In a Spanish plaza, in a dream, once,
the soul face to face with the body.
Set free.

Daniela Crasnaru
(transl. from Romanian by Dan Dutescu)

Intre noi doi
Această oglindă moale, nesigură
Astfel înclinată încât
Eu nu mă văd
Şi tu nu te vezi,
Dar te văd
Şi mă vezi,
Ochii ni se întâlnesc
Şi se încleştează
În zarea ei argintie.
Cât timp această oglindă
Va continua să fie
Şi să ne găzduiască
În visul ei afund,
Viaţa şi moartea
În care eşti, în care sunt,
Rămân doar poveşti
În care sunt, în care eşti.

Ana Blandiana

Between you and me
this soft mirror, unsure,
reclined in a way
that obscures me
and obscures you
yet I see you
and you see me
our eyes meet
and lock one another
in its silver dawn
as long as this mirror
continues to be
and to shelter us
in its deep dream
this life and this death
in which you are
in which I am
will be nothing but words
in which I am
in which you are.


  1. Roxana, it was once said: 'Lass den Weltenspiegel Alexandren', but now you have it!

    Thought you might like these fragments, which I found lying on the floor...

    When the Emperor dies
    the porcelain will let down her hair from despair

    Cocquettishly, she said to me: "one night I shall come close to you, friend, in a dream"
    I thought on that, since I believed her word;
    thus all my life has passed just like a dream...

    The heart that traveled to the 'chin' of the friend's curls-
    how does it fare in the evenings of the strangers?

    ('chin'= twist or China)

    Oh, come, so that your picture be placed within my heart-
    don't go to China, for there they'll paint it just on silk.

    I hope you leave this "white room" and "remember the colours"; this room is not of this world.

    Hope you are well, wherever you are ! :)

    Take care, Z.

  2. This last poem is so touching, amazingly connecting with the photos. Thanks for both!
    I have to understand what the connection is, that I feel it so clearly but that I can't say. Your blog fascinates me so much exactly because of these connections that are so precise and so deep and hidden.

    Did you ever rationalised the process by which you associate a writing to a picture?

  3. Marta! first of all thank you for saying a word that I love so much, "fascinate" :-)

    oh but your question is a most difficult one. it depends on so many things. if I find a poem that I like, then I search for an image to go with it. or it may be the other way round - I just want to show a certain image and then look for the "perfect words". it gets more difficult when I want to express something deeply personal, to create an entire world of associations and connections that _is_ me (of course every picture is deeply personal, but you understand the difference, I know it). then I start with a number of key symbols that I want to express and afterwards search for the picture and the text which could convey them best. and there is so much work of the chance here. but not just every chance, that "hasard objectif" of Breton (I don't like the surrealists much, but they've still got some ideas that fascinate me :-) which always played such an important role in my life. and that's been so active lately, it seems, that it is almost scary. for example, this last post: the mirror poem was easy, I knew from the beginning it had to be there (this "knowing" I cannot explain, it cannot be rationalised). but I was also searching for something else to express: Seville, Venice would have been also ok :-), dream, uniqueness, irrepeatability, passion. I was almost sure it would be impossible to find it and that I should have to write it myself, but alas a poem doesn't come exactly when it is needed. and then I open a book with romanian poets translated into english, and there it is. and, moreover, again one of those "petrifiantes coincidences" as Breton calls them, there is also this strange line in it: "the redeeming blood of an unknown flower" - thus establishing immediately the connection with the Duras-flower that I had already decided to have in the story. like the pieces of a puzzle suddenly arranging themselves - or being arranged under my eyes by a hand whose traces I can almost perceive in the thin air?

    I just had to think about it (and you asking this question exactly now is again a startling coincidence, you see): how many chances were there that such a poem existed, had been written before, and that I should have found it exactly when needed? how come the woman who wrote it felt the need to use exactly the same images that were "mine", what might the circumstances in her life have been that urged her to write it the way I would have done? you see, the big and old oh so old question: do I re-enact something that she had already lived, and re-enacted in her turn, a process repeating itself endlessly? or are we always the same who live the same experiences, the same book being re-written all over again? the myth of the eternal return always returning in our questions :-) and if there is such a thing, then is there a deep spiritual meaning behind it or is it just a mechanism devoid of any sense, a sterile self -repetition, as our postmodern times would want us to believe? oh but you've already guessed - not so hard :-) - that I have a premodern soul :-) maybe a totally archaic one if this is still a confession one is allowed to make :-)

    marta, what a long answer! :-) thank you for asking this question.

  4. anonymous, I don't know what to say. except that I can still choose where I want to be, and world is still where I wish it to be. of course you can try to prove yourself right here - mind you, I don't even say: to prove me wrong - but I should warn you, many have died in less perilous exploits than this one.

  5. oh marta, and the idea of freedom, the soul and the body set free in the open world of that dream, the soul meeting the body, knowing the body, this was also important for me and that poem just went into the heart of things. and these pictures - I had tried to express a dance in the mirror, an impossible longing. so I don't know, everything just fitted together. I guess in the end it is always like a dance between words and images, I just follow the music but who is there to tell me where this music comes from.

  6. Roxana, you can no more choose to be in the white room than I can; if one finds it, then one stumbles into it, bewildered, not knowing whether it is day or night, dream or reality. "Necessity is the veil of God"

    It is like Brigadoon: one comes across a bridge or a door, as if by chance, out of the blue. Surely a "pre-modern " soul knows that these things were 'given', from time out of mind? Is this not, ultimately,a matter of grace? Only if one 'thinks' about it is there a need for "proofs" :)

    So, do we chose? Not so sure, not so sure.

    But I like what you say: the imagining of it, the memory of it, endures. The white light splinters. The colours. Red and green, silver and gold. But most of all blue, the silent blue, that is more like black. Beauty, but also sadness , is the distance of the soul.

    But if you don't like that "proof" then Seal (yes, seal! ) : Time is the space between me and you.

    Am I dead now? :)

  7. no, one cannot choose to be in the white room, one just stumbles upon it, bewildered. but one can choose to remain there.

    oh I remember something else I could tell you here: that my grandmother taught me never to talk to strangers who hide their face and don't introduce themselves. so tell me: who are you? or at least: how should I call you? even the name of a town will be enaugh. maybe. like seville or venice or that town in france. so, what is your name?

  8. Yes, that you can choose. Because one is free to leave, and one is free to be bound.

    What difference does it make if you know my name or my face? One either knows a name or one doesn't, either remembers it or doesn't.

    That town in France. I remember nothing. But sometimes my hand does reach out for it, as in a dream.

    Your grandmother ! ?
    lol :)
    You DO make me laugh. You kill me. It is good for me.

    But no, where are my manners? In respect for her let me introduce myself:

    I did not adopt my name nor can I own any. I am neither stationary nor adrift. Can I know who I am?
    Then who is she that stands as the Other? And who am I? Can I know b?

    How will you call me? Oh, I dunno. Just whistle. "You know how to whistle, don't you? Just put your lips together and blow"

  9. Dreamlike. like a sudden thought
    On a crowded train
    between fitfull slumber
    And blaring horn
    Or a floating puff of snow
    Defying entrapment
    till only a whisper of memory lingers
    Or a sliver down your palm

    I wish i could understand a word of what you explained to Martha, but i have a 3 paragraph attention span so i didnt make it past the intro. LOL! Also i didn't get a word of it.

    But...hey, i am persuaded to clap!

  10. ciao, sorry the delay in replying, am packing all my stuff, the written stuff (much more complicated than making luggage) as I am leaving in few days...funny, this is not relevant in a virtual friendship: it is like discussing a shadow...

    Anyway, reply...premodern, ha! you say something important here. I am trying to disentangle my writing from temporalisation of everything, and I am doing this exactly in these days, revising my chapter. I am so firmly against developmental systems of thought...but then, yes, to escape it is hard.

    And there you come practicing it: premodern seems to belong to such temporalisation but modernism has been around for so long that no, you are tracing here a parallel line, not a derivative one!

    I like the idea of escaping both modernism and postmodernism this way! i'll use it myself if you allow me!

    The description of your processes of association is exactly what i needed to clarify my ideas. As you point out, chains of events do exist but their reverse is also possible. Internal links play a big role but then external factors too. And others seem to be able to enter your associative system and find their place in it, while you yourself can't abstract too much on it.

    Well, I feel exactly the same :|
    And I used to have a close friend, and then a couple of them, who, for long months, have sort of associated at my same pace, like i were them, and them me. Something aowsome.

    I often thought we had created and were using an invisible (even to us) network of associations, of knoledge, which was constantly growing with us.

    By cutting out the border of an individual one does not make a proper operation. I begin thinking that our skin is not exactly our border. That there is a a net of which we are part, sharing some areas of it with others, or with objects, or with events...
    but I am getting confusing, sorry, need more space and time ...

  11. ah! and your second comment triggered an other answer (hope am not annoying with all these answers...)

    why is that I associate dance to associations, to linking? And you do the same!

    I often think I love dancing so much because of that. Dancing, armony, communion of parts, linking...maybe movement, and therefore the body, and rhytm and therefore time, and reason at the service of both, and therefore in a right equilibrium...

  12. holy cow girl, you take some really beautiful photographs. i feel that you are reaching back through the ages with some of these.

    and the mums by the wooden fence -- superb.

  13. oh anonymous, now I know who you are. now I know you :-) but you can keep on hiding, and I can pretend I forgot and keep on searching and I will find the answer again. so come on, let's play again.

  14. Marta, still packing? are you leaving for Petersburg? :-)

    yes, I am totally with you here, especially the skin part, no this is not at all confusing, I have the same feeling often. and thank you for finding the precise abstract language to summarize my hazy
    description, I am always lost in admiration in front of people who can do this so easily :-) in my case it is always such a strenuous effort to climb up the ladder from image to concept. I guess that's why I feel close to some german romantic thinkers who think they are one. at least in that lost poetic language of archaic times :-)

    and dance, yes! isn't dance always the answer?

    and yes, your long digressions are always so annoying :-) now you must be frowning at me but I know you are smiling :-)

  15. hi zuma :-) thank you for visiting and for the poem.
    and of course for giving me a hard time trying to find out where the irony ends and the sarcasm begins in your comment on my Marta-comment :-) no, I am only joking. but pay attention if you really clap, will all those coloured balls not fall to the ground? :-)

  16. dear lotus :-) your words mean so much to me, always.