His near stammering. With disconcerting promptness one word hid behind another. -- Maurice Blanchot, Le Dernier Homme Contact me: red3ad (at) yahoo (dot) com



In regards to a rather dubious essay project of mine, J. elected to read "waiting" for every instance of the word "writing."



28 March 1941: death of Virginia Woolf

O use.



Of course, Mozart died before he could complete the Requiem -- as did Bartok, before finishing his Viola Concerto, a work always slighted by musicologists as lacking the authentic, finishing hand of the master. A beautiful, haunting work nonetheless.

Cf. Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953


Mozart, I think ...what a waste of a life.
It's quite early -- I still have the lights on, and yesterday's rain clouds seem to be breaking up. I'm listening to his Requiem, wch has never failed to move me. A late masterpiece. After early recognition of his prodigious talents, squandering them in a life of dissolution, spinning out a cookie-cutter ouevre -- one could easily speak of a Mozart "house style," as if he were a fashion designer. (The symphonies. Yawn. The piano sonatas - god help us. However, I must allow the operas; perhaps the size and demands of the medium forced his hand, in a way). But the Requiem... It's as if, facing the end of his life, he went deeper than ever before -- to produce a work of necessity.
There are few works of art that I would exalt; value as much as -- what? a conversation with a friend?-- But what is it, then, that keeps me to my books, solitary walks, less-than-compelling-upon-casual-reflection television shows -- an introverted, and often frivolous life. I could pick up the latest David Markson book and locate a half-dozen lines I find sympathy with, from the Ancient Greeks on, about preferring the company of books. What is it that I find in the written word?-- a rapport, a hoped-for communication all the more capable of being idealized by virtue of its imperfection, the impossibility of the work?
The impossible book that we are, each of us, now writing in our own obscure way?

"Listening to some oratorio, how can we admit that such beseechings, such poignant effusions, conceal no reality and concern no one, that there is nothing behind them, and that they must vanish forever into thin air?" -- E.M. Cioran



She seemed so very familiar, and I knew I had seen her before; I was, perhaps, even caught up in the act of recalling a past instance of trying to remember her.
I looked up again, to see her say a single word and pause; she was at the end, or perhaps the beginning of a sentence. I looked up, and in that moment, saw her mouth form the word "actually."



Neither here, nor there, a sort of virtual notebook. I think I've used the word incorporeal when talking about this blog project. And the word is, I think, correct -- that is its attraction. This strange distance that connects the book in my pocket with the machine on my desk; it is and is not.

"As soon as there is a part that is journal and a part that is novel in a work, I am on the side of the journal. That is my place.
When I read, I look for the notebooks of the book."
-- Hélène Cixous



Johann Sebastian Bach, b. 1685.

Fuga, Sonata Nr. 2 in A minor
Sitting at my desk -- partially cleared, papers two months, two years, four-five years old mingling in the process. Some, at the edges, have faded or darkened through time; some have a thin skin of dust on them. Easier now than then to glance over an index card or the back of an envelope and toss it away. The temptation to box it all up and chuck it.

A few years ago, faced then, as now, with the struggle of clearing my desk, gleaning through the piles of papers in search of a few lines, a few words here and there -- I’d thought then, what a blessing it would be to come home and find that a fire had gutted the place -- to start anew with nothing but the notebook in my pocket and a few lingering lines...

But enough writerly drama; I would, of course, be crushed. And no doubt I would recover, but with no idea of what wound or catalogue of regrets I’d inherit.

My thought is, this morning: to approach the blank page as if the fire had already taken place.

Ciaccona, Partita Nr. 2 in D minor
The pen runs out of ink, the line thins, trailing off into nothing more than a faint impression.
A part of a phrase, a few notes hang in the air, like fog, ash, or high clouds. A memory of blue. The resonance that hovers as the violinist lifts her bow from the instrument.



I must thank T., who recommended J. Herbin’s Perle Noire ink; so very pleasant to write with. A bit of a greyish tone to it - not as black as the old standard, Pelikan’s Brilliant Black. But a smooth-flowing ink, and it affords the “black debt” of writing a certain pleasure.

Writing: "I" 

“One can never write anything about oneself that is truer than what one is.”
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value



"After the night I saw Judy, as the months passed, I lost my job, but I kept up my habit of walking through the city. And there was something else that began to happen, where every time I thought of the word “I,” it sort of echoed or rang out in my mind, and I was troubled by it. The idea of the self was obsessing me now. What were we all constantly talking about? I didn’t get it. The self. The self. What was the self? Well, one afternoon, one cloudy, drizzly, late afternoon, I was sitting in my apartment writing in my diary, and unfortunately I’d managed to spill my tea, , and my hands were wet, and so was my diary, and my clean laundry, and a bunch of forks, and the clothes I was wearing, and as I reached for a rag and started to wipe things up, I suddenly understood it, very very clearly -- and the clarity made me queasy, as if a door had been opened and bright light and oxygen had flooded into my brain. As the rag sat soaking in the tea on my lap, I understood that my self was just a pile of bric-a-brac -- just everything my life had quite by chance piled up -- everything I;d seen or heard or experienced -- meticulously, pointlessly piled up and saved, a heap of nothing, a heap of nothing which had somehow been compressed into a sort of form and had somehow succeeded in coming alive, and which quite ridiculously now sort of demanded tribute, declared itself great. And the amazing thing was that I’d gone along with it. We all had! We had all bowed down, we had all worshipped, each one kneeling before his own separate self, each apparently obsessed by a single question to the exclusion of everything: what will happen to this self which is mine? Will “I” achieve magnificence and success?? Will “I” be admired? Will my marvelous self express itself? How idiotic! And how boring. How boring, how boring, how boring, how boring. And was this obsession even sincere? Did we honestly feel that no questions but these were of any interest? I wondered if the show of adoration wasn’t perhaps just a little overplayed -- whether all this overacting didn’t possibly reveal an element of pretense.
And as I thought all this, I felt I saw standing by the window in the fading light that very creature, that self which was mine, that ludicrous figure whom I’d approached until now with such ostentatious displays of respect -- such fervor, groveling, hand-kissing and tears -- and I went up to the figure, the unpleasant little self, and sort of pulled it by the arm in the fading light, and I spun it around toward me. And then I threw it on its back and kicked it smartly in the face, and then I sat on top of it, grabbed its neck, and choked it and strangled it and bashed its skull against the floor until it stopped squealing, stopped gasping, and was gone.
And what a fucking relief it was. All that endless posturing, the seriousness, the weightiness, that I was so sick sick sick to death of -- I’d never have to do any of it ever again.
I would walk the streets like a cheerful ghost, and no one would know my secret. It would really be funny."
-- Wallace Shawn, The Designated Mourner


Living Too Late 

Sleepless, in-control spleen
Agreed ace family
Must have stump tripod in the genes
I'm immune to things
In my dreams

Sometimes life is like a new bar
Plastic seats, beer below par
Food with no taste, music grates
I'm living too late

Once talking was my favourite while
But now I know a conversation's end
Before it's done
Maybe I'm living too long

-- The Fall


Lack. An unwriteable distress -- "distress," I hope, not to grandiose a word for it. On the verge of succumbing to a case of the "why bothers?" today. I mean, it would all be so easy: subscribe to the New Yorker, buy a Dido disc, go to multiplexes more often. Why negotiate the terrain of thinking, wch is always questioning, a terrain that eventually yields to reveal a stone wall with a well-worn patch exactly at forehead height? Perhaps because other foreheads have been here before. Because a line of Blanchot, of Royet-Journoud, Dickinson or Wittgenstein will cut through this grey fog. And Cecilia Bartoli's voice.

Apocalyptic writing. Apocalypse means unveiling, after all. At times the terror of the present moment, the glare of the unveiling -- a pervasive light that creates multiple shadows and an ambiguity beyond limit -- wells up; a timeless sense of knowing-not knowing. The infinite conversation resolves itself into a field of white. [The water was a glowing monochrome, off-white, possessing exactly the same hue and intensity as the sky. A skeletal line of trees on the far shore, like an EEG or the waveform of a foreign speech, divided them.]

But there are those days when the page remains murky, neither here nor there; a location at some distance from terror and just outside melancholy. And yes, a small pleasure may be called for. I don't have it in me for a trip to the cinema; perhaps another viewing of The Designated Mourner tonight at home.



I must confess to a certain disappointment at the discovery that I do not possess a more finely tuned spleen. The fact that the most witless book critic in town praised a writer I find over-rated in every way (a stylist; no less, no more -- the sound of pop rocks crackling in an empty cranium) should have provided a certain frisson; the pleasant recognition that all was quite well in order in this crappy world.

A not insignificant problem of dealing with public life is figuring out how to contend with the carrion-stench of ambition. I can hear the apologists chiming in: "They're into their own thing. They're not hurting anyone." Not hurtful in a specific sense. And as far as "their own thing" goes, why can't it be fucking off?

Ah, but for Bernhard. To reread. Again.

Cauterize This 

(Written earlier on the bus to work)...
The word "inconsolable" comes to mind for no particular reason. Not so much the meaning, more the sound, the sound & evenness of the syllables, one slight stress. Not even a sort of quiet drama today. Just a morning - a rather nice one: some blue sky, little echoey notes of spring in the air - but a morning after. A. Poetry. Reading. And I can't even say that I feel much regret at going; it wasn't all that bad an experience, and I saw some people I rarely see otherwise. But I can't help but reflect that if this is the state of contemporary poetry -- in a word, pedestrian (wch, as a walker, I take umbrage at)... Well, then... No. No bother.

Still, a slight feeling of loss [sense of expenditure] and squandered hope. Slack, lackluster; a dullness permeates. I suppose it comes down to the problem of having certain expectations, and yes, I should know better by now. "'You have the temper of an antiquary and a skeptic' -- that line so suits you," someone told me recently. Also that of an idealist. Not that my idealism hasn't been smashed, trampled, burnt; lain dormant for long periods... If there we re only some way of cauterizing this sense of often unwarranted expectation. But to do so would also be to deny, in a sense, life?- that wch is, if anything, possibility?

The attractive brunette doesn't get on at her usual stop. It's going to be yet another day in the Kingdom of Quotidian Dubeity.


And with a, yes, I can sound hopeful, yes, a return to spring, I can think of the park again, returning there, a daily walk, a cigarette after dinner, a book...


I think that I should begin - here or elsewhere - a series of writings on the fragment. "The Fragment In My Life." Or, "The Fragment As I See It." I know that I am capable of writing an essay, a sort of memoir, a sonnet, a novel. Indeed I have done so - and torn up or burned the results. I have kept single lines or short paragraphs from these works, even a list of four words reveled through the agency or intercession of fire; the top page blackened, curling back, revealing, momentarily, the page beneath. To realize that this is quite as it should be - the discerning form of fire revealing, obtaining the content of the work.

"And the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

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