Robert Bresson, Mouchette, (1967).
Robert Bresson, Mouchette, (1967).
“Words are all we have” — Samuel Becket.
A Tom Waits Tribute Comic
All the World is Green
“I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself.”
– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (via)
“Il est nécessaire d’établir comme une loi que l’aventure n’existe pas. Elle est dans l’esprit de celui qui la poursuit et, dès qu’il peut la toucher du doigt, elle s’évanouit, pour renaître bien plus loin, sous une autre forme, aux limites de l’imagination.”
The opposite of lost, Nathaniel Russel.
Today Death, tarrying longer than ever, came to sell at my doorstep. Slower than ever, she unfolded before me the rugs, silks and linens of her oblivion and her consolation. She smiled with satisfaction at the things she showed, without caring that I saw her smile. But as soon as I felt tempted to buy them, she said they weren’t for sale. She hadn’t come to make me want the things she showed but, through those things, to make me want her. The rugs, she said, were the kind that graced her far-away palace; the silks were the same ones worn in her castle of darkness; and even better linens than what she had showed me draped the altarpieces of her abode in the nether world.
She gently unravelled the ties that held me to my native, unadorned home. ‘Your fireplace,’ she said, ‘has no fire, so why do you want a fireplace?’ ‘Your table,’ she said, ‘has no bread, so what is your table for?’ ‘Your life,’ she said, ‘has no friend or companion, so why does your life charm you?’
She said, ‘I am the fire of cold fireplaces, the bread of bare tables, the faithful companion of the lonely and the misunderstood. The glory that’s missing in this world is the pride of my black domain. In my kingdom love doesn’t weary, for it doesn’t long to possess; nor does it suffer from the frustration of never having possessed. My hand lightly rests on the hair of those who think, and they forget; those who have waited in vain lean against my breast, and finally come to trust.
'The love that souls have for me is free of the passion that consumes, of the jealousy that deranges, of the forgetfulness that tarnishes. To love me is as calm as a summer night, when beggars sleep in the open air and look like rocks on the side of the road. My lips utter no song like the sirens' nor any melody like that of the trees and fountains, but my silence welcomes like a faint music, and my stillness soothes like the torpor of a breeze.
'What do you have,' she said, 'that binds you to life? Love doesn't follow you, glory doesn't seek you, and power doesn't find you. The house that you inherited was in ruins. The lands you received had already lost their first fruits to frost, and the sun had withered their promises. You have never found water in your farm's well. And before you ever saw them, the leaves had all rotted in your pools; weeds covered the paths and walkways where your feet had never trod.
'But in my domain, where only the night reigns, you will be consoled, for your hopes will have ceased; you'll be able to forget, for your desire will have died; you will finally rest, for you'll have no life.'
And she showed me the futility of hoping for better days when one isn’t born with a soul that can know better days. She showed me how dreaming never consoles, for life hurts all the more when we wake up. She showed me how sleep gives no rest, for it is haunted by phantoms, shadows of things, ghosts of gestures, stillborn desires, the flotsam from the shipwreck of living.
And as she spoke, she slowly folded up - more slowly than ever - her rugs which tempted my eyes, her silks which my soul coveted, and the linens of her altarpieces, where my tears were already falling.
'Why try to be like others if you are condemned to being yourself? Why laugh if, when you laugh, even your genuine happiness is false, since it is born of forgetting who you are? Why cry if you feel it's of no use, and if you cry not because tears console you but because it grieves you that they don't?
'If you're happy when you laugh, then when you laugh I've triumphed; if you're happy, because you don't remember who you are, then think how much happier you'll be with me, where you won't remember anything! If you rest perfectly on those rare occasions when you sleep without dreaming, then think how you'll rest in my bed, where sleep never has dreams! If you sometimes feel exalted because, seeing Beauty, you forget yourself and Life, then how much more you'll feel exalted in my palace, whose nocturnal beauty is always harmonious and never ages or decays; in my halls, where no wind ruffles the curtains, no dust covers the chairs, no light slowly fades the velvets and the silks, and no time yellows the vacant whiteness of the walls!
'Come to my affection, which never changes, and to my love, which has no end! Drink from my inexhaustible chalice the supreme nectar which doesn't jade or taste bitter, which doesn't nauseate or inebriate! Look out the window of my castle and contemplate not the moonlight and the sea, which are beautiful and thus imperfect things, but the vast, maternal night, the undivided splendour of the bottomless abyss!
'In my arms you will forget even the painful rod that brought you to them. Against my breast you won't even feel the love that prompted you to come and seek it. Sit next to me on my throne and you will for ever be the undethronable emperor of the Mystery and the Grail, you will coexist with the gods and with all destinies, and like them you'll be nothing, you'll have no here or hereafter, and you won't need what you abound in, nor what you lack, nor even what suffices you.
'I will be your maternal wife, the twin sister you've at long last recovered. And with all your anxieties married to me, with all that you vainly sought in yourself now entrusted to me, you yourself will become lost in my mystic substance, in my forsworn existence, in my breast where things smother, in my breast where souls drown, in my breast where the gods vanish.'
Sovereign King of Detachment and Renunciation, Emperor of Death and Shipwreck, living dream that grandly wanders among the world’s ruins and wastes!
Sovereign King of Despair amid splendours, grieving lord of places that don’t satisfy, master of processions and pageants that never succeed in blotting out life!
Sovereign King risen up from the tombs, who came in the night by the light of the moon to tell your life to the living, royal page of lilies that have lost their petals, imperial herald of the coldness of ivory!
Sovereign King Shepherd of the Watches, knight errant of Anxieties travelling on moonlit roads without glory and without even a lady to serve, lord in the forests and on the slopes, a silent silhouette with visor drawn shut, passing through valleys, misunderstood in villages, ridiculed in towns, scorned in cities!
Sovereign King consecrated by Death to be her own, pale and absurd, forgotten and unrecognized, reigning amid worn-out velvets and tarnished marble on his throne and the limits of the Possible, surrounded by the shadows of his unreal court and guarded by the fantasy of his mysterious, soldierless army.
Bring goblets, platters and garlands, all you pages and damsels and servants! Bring them for the feast which Death will host! Bring them and come dressed in black, with your heads crowned by myrtle.
Bring mandrake in the goblets, ☐ on your platters, and make your garlands from ☐ violets, from all the flowers that evoke sadness.
The King is going to dine with Death in her ancient palace next to the lake, up in the mountains and far from life, cut off from the world. Let the orchestras rehearsing for the feast be made up of strange instruments, whose mere sound prompts tears. Let the servants be clad in sober liveries of unknown colours; let them lavish yet simple, like the catafalques of heroes.
And before the feast begins, let the long medieval cortège of dead purple robes promenade in a grandly silent ritual on the tree-lined paths of vast parks, like beauty passing through a nightmare.
Death is Life’s triumph!
It is by death that we live, because we exist today only for having died to yesterday. It is by death that we hope, for we can believe in tomorrow only because we’re sure today will die. It is by death that we live when we dream, since to dream is to deny life. It is by death that we die when we live, since to live is to deny eternity! Death guides us, death seeks us, death accompanies us. All that we have is death, all that we want is death, and death is all that we care to want.
A breeze of attention sweeps through the wings.
Here he comes, escorted by Death, whom no one sees, and by ☐, who never arrives.
Heralds, sound your horns! Attention!
Your love for things dreamed was your contempt for things lived.
Virgin King who disdained love, Shadow King who despised light, Dream King who denied life!
Amid the muffled racket of cymbals and drums, Darkness acclaims you Emperor!
— Fernando Pessoa (as Bernardo Soares), The Book of Disquiet, tr. by Richard Zenith.
Generic Man, 1989, by Jana Sterbak.
My eyes see, but I am blind. I’ve begun to perceive things with the banality of knowledge. What I see is no longer Reality, it’s just Life.
… Yes, the life to which I also belong, and which also belongs to me; and no longer Reality, which belongs only to God or to itself, which contains neither mystery nor truth, and which - since it is real or pretends to be real - exists somewhere invariably, free from having to be temporal or eternal, an absolute image, the external equivalent to the idea of a soul.
Where are the living?”
– Fernando Pessoa (as Bernardo Soares), The Book of Disquiet, tr. by Richard Zenith.