Live the questions now

Rilke quote.

.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” (Rainer Maria Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet, #4)

__________

In 1903, Rilke replied in a series of 10 letters to a student who had submitted some verses to the well-known Austrian poet for an assessment. Written during an important stage in Rilke’s artistic development, these letters contain many of the themes that later appeared in his best works. Essential reading for scholars, poetry lovers (Book Depository).

What lies behind me …

afternoon light (01 September 2011)

afternoon light (01 September 2011)

What lies behind me still remains ahead of me. (László Krasznahorkai, in Satantango

From time to time, unexpected things pop up on the “new titles” shelves at the Wellington Central Library. Satantango (written by László Krasznahorkai) was first published in 1985, but the translation by George Szirtes from the Hungarian did not appear until 2012; even so, I would not have expected it to be accorded “new title” status – but one day, there it was. At first glance, the matte black cover looked as if it had been stitched with long white tacking stitches (such as a tailor might use), but then I wondered if perhaps, given its title, it had been inscribed with magical glyphs. (There’s a cover image with the Amazon listing.)

Intrigued, I took the book home, but somehow didn’t manage to get through more than a few pages before it was due to be returned. When I went back to borrow it again the following day, someone else had beaten me to it. (And, at that time, all the library’s copies of this author’s other titles were also out on loan.)

Satantango … now regarded as a classic, is a monster of a novel: compact, cleverly constructed, often exhilarating, and possessed of a distinctive, compelling vision – but a monster nevertheless. It is brutal, relentless and so amazingly bleak that it’s often quite funny.” (Theo Tait in a review for The Guardian, Wednesday 9 May 2012)

Krasznahorkai’s translator George Szirtes calls his work a “slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type”, and says his sentences take you down “loops and dark alleyways – like wandering in and out of cellars”. At one point the wind moves through the trees like a “helpless hand searching through a dusty book for some vanished main clause”; the reader feels something comparable. (Theo Tait)

In 1994, Hungarian director Béla Tarr released Sátántangóa film based on the novel. Shot in black-and-white, it runs for over seven hours. The critic Susan Sontag described Sátántangó as “Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I’d be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life.” (Wikipedia article, Sátántangó)

Both the book and the film are structured in twelve sections – although these are not necessarily in chronological order. (The structure of the tango, I am told, is six forward moves followed by six back.)

And now I’ve been reading it again … but I still haven’t finished it. (It has been returned, and I’ll need to go back for it … again.)

“The imagination never stops working but we’re not one jot nearer the truth,” remarks Irimiás at one point.

__________

Krasznahorkai, László. 1985. Satantango. Translated from the Hungarian [translation copyright © 2012 George Szirtes]. New York: New Directions. [p133]

Telling stories

beginning middle end (18 July 2013)

beginning middle and end (18 July 2013)

The first day of December, the first Sunday in Advent, the first day of our southern hemisphere summer. And the first day after the end of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

My participation in NaNoWriMo had me commit to writing – during the month of November – 50,000 words towards my new novel, the working title of which is “You Wouldn’t Dare!”

The truth is that I wrote about half of what I’d committed to. And about half of what I wrote might ultimately find itself inside the novel.

To me, the three big benefits of being involved were: 1/ the discipline of writing every day, 2/ training myself to write down anything and everything that came to mind, and 3/ I discovered things I wanted to write but didn’t dare write.

It was the middle of winter when the Sky Rialto poster (above) was pasted on the building next to where I live. I have now gained a new layer of understanding of those words. The sequence in which a story is told need not conform to any chronology. The sequence in which the story was written will certainly not do so.

The very bearable lightness of being

skateboard wallpaper - royal

skateboard wallpaper – royal

A day or two ago, I saw something I’d never expected to see: a young man riding a skateboard … using his crutches to propel himself along. And it instantly put me back in touch with something I’d scribbled down the day before, whilst reading a novel called Ru:

“He had stopped time by continuing to enjoy himself, to live until the end in the lightness of a young man.” (Kim Thúy)

I am not a young man … and thus no longer immortal. Whenever the pain from the osteoarthritis gets bad, I have a mantra: “My feet kiss the earth.” It helps.

But I’ve taught myself something that helps even more: whenever I find myself bracing my knees and hobbling along stiff-legged, I have learned to relax my joints and saunter instead. I’m not saying every step is pain-free, but it sure feels better. And I whisper my mantra. And I smile.

__________

NOTES:

Thúy, Kim. 2009 [Copyright © 2009 Éditions Libre Expression]. English translation Copyright © 2012 Sheila Fischman. Ru. New York: Bloomsbury.

The skateboard wallpaper image comes from: http://www.wallpaper4me.com/wallpaper/Royal/

My title is a parody of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 postmodern novel by Milan Kundera. The story takes place mainly in Prague in the late 1960s and 1970s. It explores the artistic and intellectual life of Czech society during the Communist period, from the Prague Spring to the Soviet Union’s August 1968 invasion and its aftermath.” (adapted from the Wikipedia article)

A nice knock-down argument for you

.

There’s no trickery
here – no obfuscation.
(You might not get that.)

I’m doing just what
we all do: all our own words
have private meanings;

there’s no language
we can share – speech divides us
inevitably. .

__________

‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

(Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll)

Reading between the lines

words on face (20 May 2013)

words on face (20 May 2013)

.

.

.

In the public library.

Browsing the latest issue of ArtForum (May 2013), leafing rapidly through page after page of advertisements.

There’s always a pen and paper handy: poems often happen when I’m reading.

I’d gone past, but needed to go back and find it again: words were beginning to form …

.

There are words
written all over my face

I see words
in the mirror

If you bother to read me
……… take the time to read me

I doubt you’d have understood
even if you’d read carefully

.

__________

The image shown here is a detail of my re-photographing of the magazine advertisement referred to above.

Further information: http://www.faurschou.com/

http://vernissage.tv/blog/2013/05/15/shirin-neshat-the-book-of-kings-faurschou-foundation-beijing/