Saturday, October 30, 2010

dearer than one’s own decay, in a world so nearly blind.

“He became frightened of flowers because they grew so slowly that he couldn’t tell what they planned to do.”

These wine-leaf-brown prose fragments need no page numbering, these chance discoveries connect one's own feelings to those of kindred spirits and now fill the room, a place of chamotte-golden daylight, they vibrate and swing, are highly vivacious attractors of thought, grains of salt to garland the sting of death, nourishing light set against the dark premonition of a final end to the godless Western world and its consuming despair.
They can be found in a sensuous treasure chest of similar dimensions, weight, and texture as a smallish cigar-case, one that might hold five Havanas. A deliberate piece of art, a vignette of death, sways in relief at the cover’s middle: the stylized figure of a doomed little ship on calm seas, emblem and symbol of the human soul equipped for certain death.
Its cross is proud and questioning simultaneously- though ever dependent on a deeper center, from which its perpendicularity is derived and its echo resounds.
From its pale blue frame, it partakes in the triumph of the already-dead: 
 Nevermore will we die.

Calm and silence, time’s greatest tools, heal everything- because time gets lost in itself, recedes completely, forgets itself- only thus is the wide sea of soul released.
That is the promise kept by this little book, this compendium of thoughts and images materialized from realms of the in-between.
Toward the end of the book, mysterious credits embrace the thinkers who brought forth its fruit. There are great names, who here withdraw behind the greatness of their words- as if all of them were written by one single man, one single soul expressing itself in the book.
Mankind, truly-voiced.
Whoever is willing to take it up, gains the self and the silence to confront horror.
The blossoms of a black spring: the intimation that the very first things will be met again at the very end.
And not as religion would have these things, but as they are held commonly, as every person may perceive them, coming into flower so "slowly that he couldn't tell what they planned to do..."

Here everything is true and deep. No idea harasses, no image squints in judgment at an observer. They are sufficient to their own ends and, self-sustaining, reach far into open space- even into one’s own thinking!
They give themselves freely to one who understands love. One who searches using the same questions, scouring the immeasurable for faint traces, clues which are held dearer than one’s own decay. For ars moriendi has always begun with the first heartbeat, and they who make life ravishing, exuberant, and worth living belong to a unique school of magic, whose alumni are only reared correctly on a diet of the entirely other-than-ordinary - the Different required by death.
A reliable friend is death, his companions reliable friends. In each present, passing moment, the dead and the living mold this world jointly. This view is the only possible basis for action in a world so nearly blind.
The hide of the blind pony acts as blanket to the gathered people. Together they acquire the horse’s strength- unending fortitude and vigor. Oh, they stagger in the lurching movements of purposeful action, they climb, they copulate, they shelter within themselves, they dis-mean, they mis-live, they cannot recognize the conditions of their existence.
Death finally removes the blanket, allowing them to see freely.
The images in the book show such sights. Out of the mist - out of these white shadows surrounding the self-searcher - emerge dark forebodings- aquarelles possessing the soul's tenderness, violence and loving clear-sight.

Again and again, the animals in the paintings, who seem quite unloosed from mortality, are envoys of the other side.
If they die, they die only allegorically, calmly.
If there is drama, it is only in our eyes, the eyes of the human spectator.
Perhaps such is required for us to empathize and to understand their message. 

Again and again, the ships, which we ourselves are. 

Again and again, man in all his magnificence and sorrow, his doubts and wild errors.

And - surprising and novel - this whole book intrinsically rubs against the grain: nevermore will we die...
Much more than a book. A rescinding of time and space, of reason and logic, limitation and finitude, of the lust for a future and validation by a past. 

There is a totally different and new space-time continuum in these pages, breathing eternity out into eternity. Whoever wills is in the heart of it: nave, navel, naval, ship.
Where we come from and where we go remain numinous.
But in tender arms we sway and are secure.
This book will accompany me until I see the archetypes of its images.
It is - to stout hearts - everything in a nutshell. It is - to the rational - a font of steady confrontation. To the dying - a treasure hoard beyond description. To the most vital among us - a very, very good compass.
Compass? Yes. A compassion they must dare to aim inward.

"Among the dead are thousands of beautiful women."
And men.

- Susanne Bummel-Vohland
translated from the German by Kristofor Minta and Susanne Bummel-Vohland

Saturday, September 18, 2010

central to every calamity, every blessing.

It is not necessary to live, but it is necessary to live happily.

-Jules Renard

Monday, September 6, 2010

accessible but veiled

"It's entirely conceivable that life's splendor surrounds us all, and always in it's complete fullness, accessible but veiled, beneath the surface, invisible, far away. But there it lies - not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If we call it by the right word, by the right name, then it comes. This is the essence of magic, which doesn't create but calls."

- Kafka,
quoted in Roberto Calasso's astonishing 'K'

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

the proud surge of its waves

He stirs up the sea of our hearts so that the proud surge of its waves often causes us hot pains, but this is only the miraculous tide through whose strange movement our sickness and misfortune abate.

- Johan Joachim Winkelmann
in Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama

- Image : Alexander Rischer - CAPUT CORVI

Saturday, June 19, 2010

for no one enjoys like a convalescent.

[...]These tales are quite extraordinarily delicate - everyone realizes that. But not everyone notices that they are the product not of the nervous tension of a decadent, but the pure and vibrant mood of a convalescent. "I am horrified by the thought that I might attain wordly success," he says, in a paraphrase of Franz Moor's speech. All his heroes share this horror. But why? Not from horror of the world, moral resentment, or pathos, but for wholly Epicurean reasons. They wish to enjoy themselves, and in this respect they display a quite exceptional ingenuity. Furthermore, they also display a quite exceptional nobility. And a quite exceptional legitimacy. For no one enjoys like a convalescent. The enjoyment of the convalescent has nothing of the orgy about it. His reinvigorated blood courses toward him from mountain streams, and the purer breath on his lips flows down from the treetops. Walser's characters share this childlike nobility with the characters in fairy tales, who likewise emerge from the night and from madness - namely, from the madness of myth.

- Walter Benjamin, Robert Walser / Karl Walser: Robert Walser as Karl Moor

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed

Lie still, sleep becalmed, sufferer with the wound
In the throat, burning and turning. All night afloat
On the silent sea we have heard the sound
That came from the wound wrapped in the salt sheet.

Under the mile off moon we trembled listening
To the sea sound flowing like blood from the loud wound
And when the salt sheet broke in a storm of singing
The voices of all the drowned swam on the wind.

Open a pathway through the slow sad sail,
Throw wide to the wind the gates of the wandering boat
For my voyage to begin to the end of my wound,
We heard the sea sound sing, we saw the salt sheet tell,
Lie still, sleep becalmed, hide the mouth in the throat,
Or we shall obey, and ride with you through the drowned.

- Dylan Thomas

Friday, May 21, 2010

of that which is sovereign.

Eros is the helplessness of that which is sovereign: it is the strength abandoning itself to something elusive, something that stings.

Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

Friday, April 23, 2010

horns and bells

Now I am lost, he thought, and from that moment on he was.

Strindberg, The Cloister

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sometimes I feel very old, like my whole life's over, like I'm not around anymore.

The devil just sittin' there laughing. He's glad when people does that. Then he sends them to the snakehouse. He just sits there and laughs and watch while you're sitting there all tied up and snakes are eating your eyes up. The snakes go down your throat and eat all your systems up.
I think the devil was on the farm.

The sun looks ghostly when there's a mist on the river and everything's quiet. I never knowed it before. And you could see people on the shore but it was far off and you couldn't see what they were doing . They were probably calling for help or something or they were trying to bury somebody or something. We seen the trees that the leaves are shaking and it looks like shadows of guys that are coming at you and stuff. We heard owls squawking away hooting away. We didn't know where we were going and what we were going to do. I'd never been on a boat before. That was the first time.
Some sights that I saw was really spooky that it gave me goosebumps. I felt like cold hands touching the back of my neck and, and it could be the dead coming for me or something. I remember this guy his name was Blackjack, he died. He only had one leg and he died. And I think that was Blackjack making those noises.

This girl she didn't know where she was goin' or what she was gonna do. She didn't have no money or nothin'. Maybe she'd meet up with a character. I was hoping things would work out for her. She was a good friend of mine.

Linda Manz in 'Days of Heaven'

Thursday, April 8, 2010

impetuous and illimitable

I hold against all modern religions that they have provided their believers with consolations and embellishments of death, instead of giving them means, in their heart, of living with it and coming to an understanding with it. With it, with its entire unmasked harshness: this harshness is so tremendous that precisely with it the circle is closed: it leads back to the extreme of a gentleness that is great, as pure, and as perfectly clear (all comfort is murky!) as we have never suspected gentleness to be, not even on the sweetest spring day. But toward the experiencing of this deepest gentleness which, if only some of us felt it with conviction, could perhaps gradually penetrate and make transparent all the circumstances of life; toward the experiencing of this richest and most wholesome gentleness humanity has never taken even the first steps - unless it be in its oldest and most unsuspicious times - the secret of which has been almost lost to us. Nothing else, I am sure, was ever the content of the 'initiations' but precisely the communication of a "key" that made it possible to read the word "death" without negation. Like the moon, so surely life has a side that is continually turned away from us, which is not its opposite, but rather its completion to perfection, to fullness, to the whole and full sphere and globe of being.
One should not fear that our strength would not be sufficient to endure any experience of death, even though it would be the nearest and most terrible; death is not beyond our strength, it is the measuring mark of the brim of the vessel: we are full whenever we reach it - and being full means being heavy...that is all. I do not wish to say that one should love death; but one should love life so magnanimously, so without calculating and selecting, that love of death (the turned-away side of life) is continually and involuntarily included - which actually happens invariably in the great motions of love, which are impetuous and illimitable....It would be conceivable that death stands infinitely closer to us than life itself....What do we know about it?

And love too, which mixes up the numbers between people for a game of nearness and distances, in which we enroll only insofar as the universe seems so full and there is space nowhere but in us. Love too takes no account of our categories, but snatches us, trembling as we are, into an infinite consciousness of the whole. Lovers do not live by the segregated Here; but as if a separation had never been undertaken, they lay hands on the tremendous possession of their hearts. Of them one can say that God becomes truthful to them and death does not harm them: for they are full of death in being full of life.

- Rilke, Letter to Lotte Hepner (1915)

Friday, March 26, 2010

the place where death went

Roland Barthes, whose philosophy of photography sprang from the loss of his adored mother, treasured photographs of the dead woman for their almost shamanistic value, as a kind of literal transcription of the light that emanated, directly and physically, from her living hair, her skin, her dress. Through these feelings he aimed at an unsurpassable definition of photography - as the place where death went when religion let go.

- Claudia Roth Pierpont

Thursday, March 18, 2010

handed down mysteries

Where everything is bad
it must be good to know the worst.

- F.H.Bradley

Saturday, March 13, 2010

a paradise that comes and goes.

Debauchery is perhaps an act of despair
in the face of infinity.

- the brothers Goncourt / Jean-Léon Gérôme

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


'We are given the shadow for the thing, and in the end we live among shadows, and not only believe that things are made for the sake of their shadows, but find that this is actually the case.'

Edgar Wind - Art and Anarchy

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Trembling and Unbroken Circle...

The greatest masterpieces created by man are now bound to a freedom from death as they are contained in records, and a child of three may hold weighty spiritual secrets in small hands.

~ Maurice Maeterlinck

Guest entry by the wonderful Woolgathersome.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

unreal in the eyes of the dead

I feel more and more as if time did not exist at all, only various spaces interlocking according to the rules of a higher form of stereometry, between which the living and the dead can move back and forth as they like, and the longer I think about it the more it seems to me that we who are still alive are unreal in the eyes of the dead...

Sebald -

Friday, January 1, 2010

a closing of remedies.

Get drunk saying good-bye.

With C&W weepers from the golden age as backdrop.

And featuring a performance by PERFVGIVM.

At Observatory: 543 Union Street (at Nevins), Brooklyn, NY 11215