This spring the birds came back again too early. Rejoice, O reason: instinct can err, too. It gathers wool, it dozes off—and down they fall into the snow, into a foolish fate, a death that doesn’t suit their well-wrought throats and splendid claws, their honest cartilage and conscientious webbing, the heart’s sensible sluice, the entrails’ maze, the nave or ribs, the vertebrae in stunning enfilades, feathers deserving their own wing in any crafts museum, the Benedictine patience of the beak.
This is not a dirge—no, it’s only indignation. An angel made of earthbound protein, a living kite with glands straight from the Song of Songs, singular in air, without number in hand, in tissues tide into a common knot of place and time, as in an Aristotelian drama unfolding to the wings’ applause, falls down and lies beside a stone, which in its own archaic, simpleminded way sees life as a chain of failed attempts.
“The rainbow is a pure childlike image… Colorfulness does not stimulate the animal senses because the child’s uncorrupted imaginative activity springs from the soul. But because children see with pure eyes, without allowing themselves to be emotionally disconcerted, it is something spiritual: the rainbow refers not to a chaste abstraction but to a life in art. The order of art is paradisiacal because there is no thought of the dissolution of boundaries – from excitement – in the object of experience. Instead the world is full of color in a state of identity, innocence, and harmony. Children are not ashamed, since they do not reflect but only see.”—"A Child’s View of Color", Walter Benjamin, in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 1, 1913-1926 (via between-two-seas)
I dreamed of a dog a skinned dog its body sang its red body whistled I asked the other one the one who turns out the light the butcher what has happened why are we in the dark
this is a dream you are alone there is no one else light does not exist you are the dog you are the flower which barks sharpen your tongue sweetly your sweet black four-legged tongue
dreams scorch the skin of man human skin burns disappears only the mutt’s red pulp is clean the true light dwells in the crust of its eyes you are the dog you are the skinned mongrel every night dream of yourself and let that be enough
“I discovered that my obsession for having each thing in the right place, each subject at the right time, each word in the right style, was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind but just the opposite: a complete system of pretense invented by me to hide the disorder of my nature. I discovered that I am not disciplined out of virtue but as a reaction to my negligence, that I appear generous in order to conceal my meanness, that I pass myself off as prudent because I am evil-minded, that I am conciliatory in order not to succumb to my repressed rage, that I am punctual only to hide how little I care about other people’s time. I learned, in short, that love is not a condition of the spirit but a sign of the zodiac.”—Gabriel García Márquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores (via journalofanobody)
the trees are full now, palms bless the skyline and winter never arrives. don’t worry i haven’t forgotten my promise altho it seems impossible to keep without your support. if you were here, you’d prove the proper Big Sis and knock me on the noggin with a sage fist
at my desk i dredge for the bodies of survivors. they fill the absence briefly and then vanish into angry impotent and accusatory splatts. why-have- nots peck at my ears. i turn up the volume till the walls shake to rolling stones, black night’s fallings and dogs at bay
in the morning, i’m greeted by talking leaves and ghost mushrooms and the soft mist off the coast, the scuttlings of ring-tailed opossums stealing food from feline odalisques too sated to stir, the flittings of doves on the mate and in my reverie i seek you out to share my favorite lullaby
it is i who sites beside you it is i who sings from the shallows it is i scratching against this silence
“I explained the conditions of the gift. Paradoxically, I felt both a ‘nostalgie’ for the book I should have written, and now never would, and a fear that the guest, the specter, would never abandon me. I hung up the receiver and repeated, like a wish, these resigned words: ‘Simply the thing I am shall make me live.’ I had invented exercises to awaken the antique memory; I had now to seek others to erase it. One of many was the study of the mythology of William Blake, that rebellious disciple of Swedenborg. I found it to be less complex than merely complicated. That and other paths were futile; all led me to Shakespeare. I hit at last upon the only solution that gave hope courage: strict, vast music—Bach.”—Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Shakespeare’s Memory’ (1983)
“Man shouldn’t be able to see his own face – there’s nothing more sinister. Nature gave him the gift of not being able to see it, and of not being able to stare into his own eyes.Only in the water of rivers and ponds could he look at his face. And the very posture he had to assume was symbolic. He had to bend over, stoop down, to commit the ignominy of beholding himself.The inventor of the mirror poisoned the human heart.”—Fernando Pessoa (via blackestdespondency)
“Cities have often been compared to language: you can read a city, it’s said, as you read a book. But the metaphor can be inverted. The journeys we make during the reading of a book trace out, in some way, the private spaces we inhabit. There are texts that will always be our dead-end streets; fragments that will be bridges; words that will be like the scaffolding that protects fragile constructions. T.S. Eliot: a plant growing in the debris of a ruined building; Salvador Novo: a tree-lined street transformed into an expressway; Tomas Segovia: a boulevard, a breath of air; Roberto Bolano: a rooftop terrace; Isabel Allende: a (magically real) shopping mall; Gilles Deleuze: a summit; and Jacques Derrida: a pothole. Robert Walser: a chink in the wall, for looking through to the other side; Charles Baudelaire: a waiting room; Hannah Arendt: a tower, an Archimedean point; Martin Heidegger: a cul-de-sac; Walter Benjamin: a one-way street walked down against the flow.”—Valeria Luiselli, “Relingos: The Cartography of Empty Spaces” (via invisiblestories)
“We were seized by a frenzy: we began to gallop across the continent, through the savannas and forests that had recovered the earth, burying cities and roads, obliterating all trace of what had been. And we trumpeted, lifting up to the sky our trunks and our long, thin tusks, shaking the shaggy hair of our croups with the violent anguish that takes hold of all us young mammoths when we realize that now is when life begins, and yet it is clear that what we desire we shall never have.”—"The Daughters of the Moon" by Italo Calvino
“And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.”—The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
But these are examples from homogeneous cultures. How representative of the American nation would you say Negro folklore is?
The history of the American Negro is a most intimate part of American history. Through the very process of slavery came the building of the United States. Negro folklore, evolving within a larger culture which regarded it as inferior, was an especially courageous expression. It announced the Negro’s willingness to trust his own experience, his own sensibilities as to the definition of reality, rather than allow his masters to define these crucial matters for him. His experience is that of America and the West, and is as rich a body of experience as one would find anywhere. We can view it narrowly as something exotic, folksy, or “low-down,” or we may identify ourselves with it and recognize it as an important segment of the larger American experience—not lying at the bottom of it, but intertwined, diffused in its very texture. I can’t take this lightly or be impressed by those who cannot see its importance; it is important to me. One ironic witness to the beauty and the universality of this art is the fact that the descendants of the very men who enslaved us can now sing the spirituals and find in the singing an exaltation of their own humanity. Just take a look at some of the slave songs, blues, folk ballads; their possibilities for the writer are infinitely suggestive. Some of them have named human situations so well that a whole corps of writers could not exhaust their universality. For instance, here’s an old slave verse:
Ole Aunt Dinah, she’s just like me
She work so hard she want to be free
But ole Aunt Dinah’s gittin’ kinda ole
She’s afraid to go to Canada on account of the cold.
It’s crude, but in it you have three universal attitudes toward the problem of freedom. You can refine it and sketch in the psychological subtleties and historical and philosophical allusions, action and whatnot, but I don’t think its basic definition can be exhausted. Perhaps some genius could do as much with it as Mann has done with the Joseph story.
“With looks disheveled, flushed in a sweat of drunkenness
His shirt torn open, a song on his lips and wine cup in his hand
With eyes looking for trouble, lips softly complaining
So at midnight last night he came and sat at my pillow…”—خواجه شمس دین محمد حافظ شیرازی
“'I would like you to write a simple story just once more,' he says, 'the kind de Maupassant wrote, or Chekhov, the kind you used to write. Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next.
I say, ‘Yes, why not? That’s possible.’ I want to please him, though I don’t remember writing that way. I would like to try to tell such a story, if he means the kind that begins: ‘There was a woman…’ followed by plot, the absolute line between two points which I’ve always despised. Not for literary reasons, but because it takes all hope away. Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.”—"A Conversation with My Father" by Grace Paley
“The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell of fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt—and there is the story of mankind.”—John Steinbeck, East of Eden (via millionen)