Wednesday, December 26, 2007

i wish all fields were paper

Miserere my Maker o have mercie on me wretch
strangelye distressed
cast downe with sinne oppressed
mightelye vext to the souls bitter anguishe
even to death I languishe,
yet let it please thee to eare
my ceaseless cryinge
miserere, I am dyinge.


- thank you Antonia (

Monday, December 24, 2007

He had a strange affinity with animals of all sorts, an eerie ability to get along amazingly well with them. At the zoo, lions and tigers would take one look at Buster's unsmiling face and come to him immediately.
- Tom Dardis, Keaton

Beneath his lack of emotion he was also uninsistently sardonic; deep below that...for those who sensed it, there was in his comedy a freezing whisper not of pathos but of melancholia.
- James Agee, 1949

image by

Friday, December 21, 2007

In the end the only thing that never changed, never became deformed,
were animals.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

…all these adventurers, fairy tale princes, sea pirates, and magnanimous criminals, I don’t complain that they have passed on but I would wish that they might find with every new orbit that life affords us successors on whom the whole sum of love and belief dedicated to them might be carried on.

- Ernst Junger

anything not strange is invisible
- paul valery, cahiers

Since I saw my grave,
there is nothing I want
but to live.

Heinrich von Kleist

Saturday, December 8, 2007

E is for elephant

The elephant is only a huge beast, but he is the most worthy that lives on the earth and has the most sense. I want to tell you about a characteristic of his honesty: he never changes females and loves tenderly the one he has chosen, with whom he nonetheless copulates only every three years, and that only for five days, so secretly that he is never seen in the act. But he is seen, however, on the sixth day, on which, before doing anything else, he goes straight to some river in which he washes his whole body, wishing in no way to return to the herd before he is purified.

-Saint François de Sales (1567–1622), Introduction à la vie dévote

They know no adultery, and do not engage each other in mortal combat over females as do other animals; not because they do not know the power of love, for the tale is told of the elephant who was enamored of a salesgirl; and have no illusions that she was chosen by accident: she was the mistress of the famous grammarian Aristophanes. Another elephant was taken with Menander, a young Syracusan who served in Ptolemy's army, and when the elephant couldn't see him, he manifested his unhappiness by refusing to eat. Juba tells that a young perfume dealer was loved by one of them. They all gave proof of their affection: joy at the sight of the beloved, naïve caresses, coins that they were given were saved and showered into the lap of their loves.

-Pliny the Elder, Natural History

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Who knows," says Euripides, "if life is not death, and death life?" Plato in one of his dialogues puts these words into the mouth of Socrates, the wisest of men, the very man who created the theory of general ideas and first considered the clarity and distinctness of our judgments to be an index of their truth. According to Plato, Socrates almost always when death is discussed says the same, or much the same as Euripides- No one knows whether life is not death and death life. Since the earliest days the wisest of men have lived in this state of mystified ignorance; only common men know quite distinctly what life is, and what death.

How has it happened, how could it happen, that the wisest are in doubt where the ordinary man can see no difficulty whatsoever, and why are the most painful and terrible difficulties always reserved for the wisest? For what can be more terrible than not to know whether one is alive or dead?

- Lev Shestov

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet; and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight, -
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.

William Blake, Songs of Innocence-The Chimney Sweeper

Weeping we scattered the seed on the fallow ground and sadly we went away.
- Sigmund von Birken

This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless.Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the absolute valuable, can be no science.What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it.

Wittgenstein - Lecture on Ethics

Thank you, Antonia, for finding this fragment.

i only want that i never had a friend

When I am dead, my dearest

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

- Christina Georgina Rossetti , "Song", from Goblin Market and Other Poems, published 1862

Saturday, December 1, 2007

'The leg that you wash tonight could be amputated tomorrow."
- Guido Ceronetti

utterly alien.

hans henny jahnn

they will most certainly mischief you.

"Could I be a Punch? The Punch of my childhood you know - his spine broken in two, his nose on the floor between his feet, his legs and arms rigidly spread in that attitude of profound despair, so pathetically droll, of toys tossed in a corner ... This evening I seem to be within a corner, spine cracked, nose in the dust. Would you kindly scrape together the poor devil, put him tenderly in your apron, introduce him to your dolls, let him play at dinners with the others. I see myself at this banquet, nose besmeared with jam, the others watching me, with that air of cold astonishment natural to well-made dolls."

Joseph Conrad - from a letter he wrote to his aunt, with whom he carried on a lengthy flirtation.

Thank you to David McBride for finding this text.
The Image is from the astonishing MIRRORWORLD

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wir hängen an den Dingen; aber die Dinge hängen nicht an uns.

- Hans Henny Jahnn: Fluß ohne Ufer. Das Holzschiff

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Marc Vaughn Moore 1.22.69 - 11.26.04

Each departed friend is a magnet that attracts us
to the next world.
- Jean Paul

Thursday, November 22, 2007

When everything is finished, the mornings are sad.

- Antonio Porchia / Hercules Seghers

not from this world

Karl Erb was the illegitimate son of an assembly line worker.
His childhood and adolescence were sad and poverty-stricken.
He was misanthropic, introverted and tended to inordinate
thrift and self-sufficiency. He was an autodidact and had an
almost fanatical love for his mother. He was the greatest
Evangelist (in Bach's "St. Matthews Passion") and the most
spiritual, angelic lied and oratorio singer.
His recording of Schubert's "Im Abendrot" is not from this world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I thought of that at the funeral.
I thought maybe it's just as well to die now,
if everything's headed in that direction.
I think that's what happens at a funeral.
You get to thinking.

Paul Metcalf, Collected Works. Volume Three

Monday, November 19, 2007

To a Little Girl

Sleep on, little one
All is well.
Better to die thus
Than go to Hell.

Life is cold and hard
Death is sweet
Many the traps are set
For wandering feet.

Would I could die as thou
Hast done this day
In childish faith and love
Be ta'en away.

Rest, my little one
Flowers on your breast
Safe in the cold earth's arms
Ever at rest.

Katherine Mansfield, written at the age of 15

- thank you, Antonia

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Landscapes that do not trigger musical themes
cannot become memories.

Cioran, Tears and Saints

the most beautiful man alive

"His dress and appearance were those suggesting a released convict...He wore, habitually, a rusty black coat with a crumpled black silk stock, his throat destitute of collar, a costume which his muscular frame and immense chest made singularly and incongruously hideous, above it a countenance the most sinister I have ever seen, dark, cruel, treacherous with eyes like a wild beast's. He reminded me by turns of a black leopard, caged but unforgiving ... . In his talk he affected an extreme brutality, and if one could believe the whole of what he said, he had indulged in every vice and committed every crime. I soon found, however, that most of these recitals were indulged in pour epater le bourgeiose and that his inhumanity was more pretended than real. Even the ferocity of his countenance gave place at times to more agreeable expressions, and I can just understand the infatuated fancy of his wife that in spite of his ugliness he was the most beautiful man alive. "
-- Wilfrid Blunt, Diaries.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Christ's body, in the instance of the eucharist, is the most delicate and precious morsel that ever existed in the world. But some say it was Cleopatra who ate that morsel when she swallowed a pearl worth more than two hundred fifty thousand écus with a sip of vinegar. Others say it was that greedy emperor who ate the phoenix, or who was made to believe that he had eaten it for his dinner. Some would have it be Queen Artemisia, who pulverized the dead body of King Mausoleus, her lord and husband and, mixing the beloved ashes with wine in a golden cup, swallowed them, and proved better than anyone in the world the truth of these words: They were two in one flesh. Others would say it was Adam eating the apple to which was attached the knowledge of good and evil. Or finally manna, which is the bread of heaven and the delight of the Angels. But all this is only a fable or figure representing the meat that the love of JESUS gave us out of the excess of his mercy.

-Etienne Binet,
Des Attraits tout puissants de l'amour de JESUS-CHRIST, et du Paradis de ce monde (1631)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

(Thoreau's essay Cape Cod :)

"...You should read the first few pages particularly, about starting a walking tour along a beach after a shipwreck, with people pulling out bodies and packing them in coffins.
After describing the scene he says
On the whole it was not so impressive a scene as I might have expected. If I had found one body cast upon the beach in some lonely place, it would have affected me more.
A little later he says
It is hard to part with one's body, but, no doubt, it is easy enough to do without it when once it is gone.
A hopeful thought."

- James Walsh for Blind Pony

From these random slips, it would seem, that Pierre is quite conscious of much that is so anomalously hard and bitter in his lot, of much that is so black and terrific in his soul. Yet that knowing his fatal condition does not one whit enable him to change or better his condition. Conclusive proof that he has no power over his condition. For in tremendous extremities human souls are like drowning men; well enough they know they are in peril; well enough they know the causes of that peril; -- nevertheless, the sea is the sea, and these drowning men do drown.

Herman Melville : Pierre, Or, The Ambiguities

Guest entry by flowerville (

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The world laid low,
and the wind blew - like a dust - Alexander,
Cesar, and all their followers.
Tara is grass; and look how it
stands with Troy...

- an Irish poet of the seventeenth century

'Nansen was prone to dark mood shifts in which he identified
with ancient Norse Gods. Inspirational on first acquaintance,
overpowering on prolonged contact, dangerous in confined spaces.'

- as told by Fergus Fleming

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life.

- Borges

- 'zettel' from the paper graveyard

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Faust has searched through all his books for a cure for the plague, made it, and it has failed. He returns to his studio and sees his piles of books.

Guest entry by James Walsh

He came to believe that a normal, honest human being could not be a professor. It is the academy that gave him his reputation of impenetrable abstruseness; never has a man deserved a reputation less. Disciples who came to him expecting to find a man of incredibly deep learning, found a man who saw mankind held together by suffering alone, and he invariably advised them to be as kind as possible to others. He read, like all inquisitive men, to multiply his experience. He read Tolstoy (always getting bogged down) and the Gospels and bales of detective stories. He shook his head over Freud.
When he died he was reading Black Beauty.
His last words were: "Tell them I had a wonderful life."

- Guy Davenport, Wittgenstein

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"What are the dead for us, if not - first and foremost - books? Among all forms of prehistoric religions, the strangest and most difficult to understand in our own day seems the cult of the dead, the constant presence of the dead in every aspect of life. To a prehistoric man, in contrast, our strangest and most mysterious form of worship would be our use of books. Yet these two forms of believe converge. Concretized as portable objects that accompany us - our parasites, persecutors, comforters - the dead have settled on the written page. Their power has never diminished, even though it has
been wondrously transformed.'

- Roberto Calasso, The Ruin of Kash

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Every sickness is a musical problem.
- Novalis / (Dreyer)

hercules seghers

"...the palest stain of their passing..."

"He hoped obscurely that she could save him,
but he did not even know from what."

~William Gay

"...for the first time in his life he became aware of loneliness."
~John Williams

From the very fine found photos collection by Barry O'Connor

The body is a grave.

to honor it with a name and flowers

(thank you Dr. Melitta Becker)