Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.
Though for me, I thought, order is a form of disorder. Take a face, for instance. Everyone says the face is the mirror of the soul. Is there anything more harmonious than a beautiful face? At the same time, though, is there anything more terrifying than a face? Anything more monstrous and unnatural? What Giacometti had said was right—though I actually couldn’t remember anymore if he had said it or written it. Did it really matter? Let’s just say that Giacometti was setting out to draw a face. If he started with the chin, he would worry that he might never reach the nose. The longer he sketched the face, the harder he tried to offer a faithful representation of it, the more it resembled a skull. The only thing left was the gaze. So what he ended up drawing was a skull with a gaze. It made my blood freeze just thinking about it.
In Arab popular traditions, there’s a belief that if a manuscript were to be submerged in water and its ink were to dissolve, drinking the water would transform the knowledge contained in that manuscript into the body of the drinker and become part of the body’s system.
I said to a friend:
—Life has always asked too much of me.
—But don’t forget that you also ask too much of life.
A book is a suicide postponed.
… Deadness is the first condition of art. A hippopotamus’ armoured hide, a turtle’s shell, feathers or machinery… . The second is absence of soul, in the sentimental human sense… . No restless, quick flame-like ego is imagined for the inside of [a statue]. It has no inside. This is another condition of art; to have no inside, nothing you cannot see. Instead, then, of being something impelled like an independent machine by a little egoistic fire inside, it lives soullessly and deadly by its frontal lines and masses.
Of striking effect in the light of the moon these millions of little sepulchres. But in her absence but cold comfort. From it then in the end to the second miscalled pastures. Leprous with white scars where the grass has receded from the chalky soil. In contemplation of this erosion the eye finds solace. Everywhere stone is gaining. Whiteness. More and more every year. As well say every instant. Everywhere every instant whiteness is gaining.
Tell me about yourself, when you have nothing better to do. Work as much as you can: that is still the best way. The moral of Candide, “we must cultivate our gardens,” must be must be the rule for people like us, those “who haven’t found the answer.” Does one, in fact, ever find it? And when one does, one seeks something else.
Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.
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