Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I looked at that face, dumbfounded. The lights of métro stations flew by; I didn't notice them. What can be done, if our sight lacks absolute power to devour objects ecstatically, in an instant, leaving nothing more than the void of an ideal form, a sign like a hieroglyph simplified from the drawing of an animal or bird? A slightly snub nose, a high brow with sleekly brushed-back hair, the line of the chin - but why isn't the power of sight absolute? - and in a whiteness tinged with pink two sculpted holes, containing a dark, lustrous lava. To absorb that face but to have it simultaneously against the background of all spring boughs, walls, waves, in its weeping, its laughter, moving it back fifteen years, or ahead thirty. To have. It is not even a desire. Like a butterfly, a fish, the stem of a plant, only more mysterious. And so it befell me that after so many attempts at naming the world, I am able only to repeat, harping on one string, the highest, the unique avowal beyond which no power can attain: I am, she is. Shout, blow the trumpets, make thousands-strong marches, leap, rend your clothing, repeating only: is!

She got out at Raspail. I was left behind with the immensity of existing things. A sponge, suffering because it cannot saturate itself; a river, suffering because reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Czeslaw Milosz

So Little

I said so little.
Days were short.

Short days.

Short nights.
Short years.

I said so little.

I couldn't keep up.

My heart grew weary

From joy,

The jaws of Leviathan

Were closing upon me.

Naked, I lay on the shore
Of desert islands.

The white whale of the world

Hauled me down to its pit.

And now I don't know

What in all that was real

Monday, February 14, 2011


Դուն դէմս չելար -
Մինչդեռ գրպաններուս մեջ տաք տաք շագանակ
էի լեցուցեր
որ տեղ մը նստինք ուտենք միասին
Շագանակ մը դուն - շագանակ մը ես
Դուն դէմս չելար -
Ուսիս ունէի մինչդեռ զոյգ հրացան
- փամփուշտ բաւարար -
Որ ելլենք նապաստակ որսանք միասին
Նապաստակ մը դուն - նապաստակ մը ես
Դուն դէմս չելար -
Մինչդեռ մտքիս մէջ ինչեր չունէի
քեզի պատմելիք
որ ըսեմ - ըսես - խնդանք միասին
Խեղկատակ մը դուն – եղկատակ մը ես
Դուն դէմս չելար -
Շագանագները պաղեցան արդէն
ու նապաստակները արձակ համարձակ
կը տապլտկին մարգագետնին մէջ -
Իսկ թէ պատմելիք ինչեր ունէինք
Գաղթեր են երկչոտ թռչուններու պէս
Ծիծեռնակ մը հոս - ծիծեռնակ մը հոն:

You didn’t meet me
Though I had filled my pockets
With hot-hot chestnuts
So we could sit somewhere
And eat them together
A chestnut for me–a chestnut for you
You didn’t meet me
Though I carried on my shoulder
A pair of rifles and enough cartridges
To go hunting together for rabbits
A rabbit for me–a rabbit for you
You didn’t meet me
Though I had such things in my head
To tell you
I could tell you this–you could tell me that
We could laugh together
Me, a clown–you, a clown
You didn’t meet me
The chestnuts have chilled
And the rabbits free and fearless
Gambol in the meadow
And all that we had to tell each other
Fled like shy birds
A swallow here–a swallow there


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If the doors of perception were cleansed ...

The great change was in the realm of objective fact। What had happened to my subjective universe was relatively unimportant... Space was still there; but it had lost its predominance. The mind was primarily concerned, not with measures and locations, but with being and meaning

Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universe… Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.

To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift। Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves। But what if these others belong to a different species and inhabit a radically alien universe? For example, how can the sane get to know what it actually feels like to be mad? Or, short of being born again as a visionary, a medium, or a musical genius, how can we ever visit the worlds which to Blake, to Swedenborg , to Johann Sebastian Bach, were home? … To the unmitigated behaviorist such questions , I suppose, are meaningless. But for those who theoretically believe what in practice they know to be true- namely, that there is an inside to experience as well as outside- the problems posed are real problems, all the more grave for being, some completely insoluble, some soluble only in exceptional circumstances and by methods not available to everyone. Thus, it seems virtually certain that I shall never know what it feels like to be Sir John Falstaff or Joe Louis. On the other hand, it had always seemed to me possible that, through hypnosis, for example, or autohypnosis, by means of systematic meditation, or else by taking the appropriate drug, I might so change my ordinary mode of consciousness as to be able to know, from the inside, what the visionary, the medium, even the mystic were talking about.