Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Edwarda

The spring was urging, and the forest listened; it was a great delight to watch thethrushes sitting in the tree-tops staring at the sun and crying; sometimes I would get up as early as two in the morning, just for a share of the joy that went out from bird and beast at sunrise.

The spring had reached me too, maybe, and my blood beat at times as if it were footsteps. I sat in the hut, and thought of overhauling my fishing rods and lines and gear, but moved never a finger to any work at all, for a glad, mysterious restlessness that was in and out of my heart all the while. Then suddenly Æsop sprang up, stood and stiffened, and gave a short bark. Someone coming to the hut! I pulled off mycap quickly, and heard Edwarda's voice already at the door. Kindly and without ceremony she and the Doctor had come to pay me a visit, as they had said.

"Yes," I heard her say, "he is at home." And she stepped forward, and gave me her hand in her simple girlish way. "We were here yesterday, but you were out,"she said.

She sat down on the rug over my wooden bedstead and looked round the hut;the Doctorsat down beside me on the long bench. We talked, chatted away at ease; I told them things, such as what kinds of animals there were in the woods, and what game I could not shoot because of the closed season. It was the closed season for grouse just now.

The Doctor did not say much this time either, but catching sight of my powder-horn,with a figure of Pan carved on it, he started to explain the myth of Pan.

"But," said Edwarda suddenly, "what do you live on when it's closed season for all game?"

"Fish," I said. "Fish mostly. But there's always something to eat." 
"But you might come up to us for your meals," she said. "There was an Englishman here last year--he had taken the hut--and he often came to us for meals."

Edwarda looked at me and I at her. I felt at the moment something touching my heartlike a little fleeting welcome. It must have been the spring, and the bright day; Ihave thought it over since. Also, I admired the curve of her eyebrows.
 

From PAN by Knut Hamsun, translated
by W. W. Worster

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Les autres?

L'enfer, c'est les autres. Le paradis aussi, n'est-ce pas? Comment résoudre le problème, alors? L'amoureuse d'un jour ou d'une nuit, d'une semaine, de quelques mois ou de quelques années, se transforme et devient une salope. Quoi faire? Oublier, bien entendu. Ça peut toujours recommencer et tant qu'il y a de l'amour dans l'air... De l'amour? C'est curieux, si tu ne donnes pas à ceux que tu aimes la joie ou le plaisir qu'ils espèrent obtenir à travers toi, sexuellement, tôt ou tard ils te quittent. Ce qui prouve bien que croire à l'amour désintéressé et spirituel n'a pas de sens. Tu ferais de même, donc ne blasphème pas, me suis-je dit. Et puis, même si tu leur donne tout ce qu'elles espèrent de toi, tu n'es pas à l'abri d'une trahison. Personne n'est à l'abri d'une trahison. Le visage de femme le plus angélique, le plus pur, peut être source, dans l'alchimie des rapports humains, de plaisirs raffinés qui n'ont, eux, rien de réligieux au sens conventionnel du terme, bien au contraire. L'ordre qui règne dans nos sociétés est bâti sur des châteaux de sable. En fait on ne peut compter sur personne. Même pas sur soi. On essaie, on fait de notre mieux, mais les résultats sont navrants. Ceux qui avaient inventé les réligions le savaient bien qui ont mis des barrières et des frontières partout. Pour nous empêcher de connaître la vérité sur nous mêmes, la vrai nature de notre destin, notre mesquine condition. L'homme est le loup de l'homme. Le loup peut sourire et caresser ton visage de sa patte velouteuse. Avec la même patte, voluptueusement, il s'aidera un peu pus tard pour mieux savourer dans sa bouche avide la chair juteuse de ta jambe. C'est pas ma faute, dit-il, c'est ma nature, je n'y peux rien. Les autres? Le monde sans eux manquerait d'intérêt, c’est sûr.

Schubert - Schwanengesang, Ständchen Leise flehen meine Lieder...

Problems

I spent  part of the day and many hours of that night trying to find a solution for the problem. Later I understood that I was not even able to identify the problem.  I then decided to go bed and sleep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

About love again

I write to her almost every day. I talk frequently about love, remind her of the days we spent together in a distant city in another continent, where we first met. We were young, I am aware of it, and the time has passed by. We used to walk on the fields and on the hills around a beautiful village not far from the city were we both were students at the university. One day, when we returned to my apartment, I finally stopped talking and I kissed her. I tell her in my messages now how much I regret those days and how foolish I have been for not understanding then that we were made for each other. I say: I miss you a lot, I miss you very much, I wish you were living here close to me, can you believe it?

I am not completely sure that we were made for each other but it’s my way of expressing my desire for her love now. Maybe I could love her passionately and be faithful to her as I never have been faithful to any woman before. We would have a very calm life together. I know that sometimes she can be upset and anxious if things do not develop as she had expected but I think I know how I would make her feel relaxed and happy. I also ask myself sometimes: how are you sure that she would be worth so much love, so much attention? It might happen with her what happened to you before with other women: they did not seems to understand what was going on and you got tired and disappointed. Then you left or allowed them to abandon you. How can you be sure that this time again you would not be disappointed? You may come once more to the same conclusion: love as I imagine it does not exist. And yet love for me is a very simple thing and I don't feel that I am particularly picky or eccentric in my way of looking at it.

She never leaves my message without an answer. But instead of talking about love she always has things to say about her old mother and about her girl friends. They travel together and have great parties away from their husbands. She seems to enjoy it but sometimes she confesses that she cannot drink and talk as much as the other women do. It is obvious that she has not stopped being the girl I met many years ago. I understand it in each of her words. I think for myself, with regret: and now it’s too late, I will never kiss her lips again, she will not fix her beautiful blue eyes on mine and blush, I stopped being the person she loves. I also think that there is no reason to complain or feel unhappy, I grow old and I am aware that life is what it is and we cannot have everything we want. She answers me, isn’t that enough?

Sometimes I tell her about my wife (we are divorced) and about a crazy girlfriend I had some years ago. I say: can you imagine, that bitch once brought a man to my apartment when I was out of town and they slept in my bed. And I forgave her and kept living with her for three more years, can you believe me? I am sure that you would never do anything like that. She agrees that my ex was indeed someone very bizarre and she says that she would never do anything like that to anybody. I answer: and you think that you need to say it to me as if I didn’t know the kind of person you are?

I also told her about a kind of girlfriend I have in Mexico, a very beautiful and very good girl I met years ago after my divorce, when I was living alone. I added: it’s so far away and Mexico is a very dangerous country right now; maybe I should find myself a woman here, it's not easy but I think I will work on that if an opportunity arises, I am tired of sleeping alone. It’s a good idea, she said, I encourage you to find a nice woman who will take care of you, you are very dear to me; but you promise that you will ask for my approval when you finally have found someone to love. Sure, said I, I will ask for your opinion before I take any decision on such a serious matter. I guess that she laughs when she reads what I write. I laugh a lot myself when I let all these crazy thoughts cross my mind.

Well, she knows how much I love her. But she thinks that I exaggerate, she says that I am inventing a person that doesn’t exist to satisfy my desperate need for love. I am not as good as you think, believe me. To that I answered: what are we but the fantasy of some other person's imagination? What is love but a beautiful and enticing misunderstanding, born of our need of security and of a life that makes sense? Where would we get the force and the courage to carry on with life if we didn’t believe in love, the love we feel for someone or the love someone feels for us? But as I said she doesn’t like to feed my need to talk about love. She prefers to talk about her old mother and about her girlfriends, their dinners and their trips. Why? I don't know. Or maybe I know but prefer to think that I don't know. I will get used to that and will wait patiently for better days. I prefer to believe that in her own way she also loves me. Isn't she writing to me almost everyday too, never leaving my obsessive messages without an answer?  Yesterday I thought that she may need me as much as I need her. Love can be many things, you know.We don't call love everything that is love and maybe we sometimes call love what is not love at all. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Schubert - Seligkeit (Holzmair, Eisenlohr)

A secret language

Mightn't we imagine a man who, never having had any acquaintance with music, comes to us and hears someone playing a reflective piece of Chopin and is convinced that this is a language and people merely want to keep the meaning secret from him?

Wittgenstein, Zettel, translated by  G. E. M. Anscombe, 
University of California Press, 1967

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Before dinner

I am very happy. I am going to get drunk. I was swimming at the pool and now, back at home, I am enjoying a Campari. My daughter is making dinner for us and for a girl friend of hers, later we will eat. We were together at the pool, it was amazing, it's a beautiful night. I will keep drinking, I have some good red wines in the room close to the garage. I also have some good reasons to get drunk but I will not talk about it. You will never know why I am happy and why I want to get drunk tonight because I am not going to tell you. She knows why though. Nobody else needs to know, it's a private thing. Sometimes I get confused. In my head two or three women that I really loved, thanks to a strange alchemy become one woman only.  I am confused and I don't mind. In a way it is as if I was already dead and dreaming. You, however, are alive, I know where you live, I can still think of you. Nobody knows who you are, what is not bad. I know, that should be enough. And you know. My Campari tastes good. I am happy. Bonne nuit, mon amour. I will always miss you.

Chopin: Nocturne N.º 15 par Alfred Cortot

F. Schubert, Der Leidende, D 432B and 432D

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rilke on love

from Rainer Maria Rilke's
Letters To A Young Poet
(1903-1908)

People have (with the help of conventions) oriented all their solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must hold to what is difficult; everything alive holds to it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself in its own way and is characteristically and spontaneously itself, seeks at all costs to be so and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all out tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far into life, is solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves.
Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become world, to become world for himself for another's sake. It is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things. Only in this sense, as the task of working at themselves ("to hearken and to hammer day and night"), might young people use the love that is given them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must save and gather for along, long time still), is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives as yet scarcely suffice.

Whoever looks seriously at it finds that neither for death, which is difficult, nor for difficult love has any explanation, any solution, any hint of way yet been discerned; and for these two problems that we carry wrapped up and hand on without opening, it will not be possible to discover any general rule resting in agreement. But in the same measure in which we begin as individuals to put life to the test, we shall, being individuals, meet these great things at closer range.


The demands which the difficult work of love makes upon our development are more than life-size, and as beginners we are not up to them. But if we nevertheless hold out and take this love upon us as burden and apprenticeship, instead of losing ourselves in all the light and frivolous play, behind which people have hidden from the most earnest earnestness of their existence - then a little progress and alleviation will perhaps be perceptible to those who come long after us; that would be much.

Rilke: Rememberance



And you wait, keep waiting for that one thing
which would infinitely enrich your life:
the powerful, uniquely uncommon,
the awakening of dormant stones,
depths that would reveal you to yourself.

In the dusk you notice the book shelves
with their volumes in gold and in brown;
and you think of far lands you journeyed,
of pictures and of shimmering gowns
worn by women you conquered and lost.

And it comes to you all of a sudden:
That was it! And you arise, for you are
aware of a year in your distant past
with its fears and events and prayers.


Translated by Albert Ernest Flemming

The language of love

W. – Do you love me?
M.  – I don’t know.
W. - You don’t know? Gosh!
M. – What does it mean, to love? What does it mean, to know?
W. – Language games. You are an expert in language games.
M . - What is a language and what is a game?
W. – Why are you talking to me? Why are you listening to me? What are you doing right now? What are we doing?
M. – What is talking? What is listening? What is doing? What is now? What is we?
W. – I hate you.
M. – What is hatred? What is me? What is you?
W. – Can we talk?
M. – Aren’t we talking?
W. – What is talking? You said that you don’t know.
M. – It is true. I don’t know.
W.- Will you learn something some day?
M. – What is learning?
W. - Why do you use words if you don't know what they mean?
M. - I know what you mean. I can use words because I know what they mean for other people. I just don't know if what you mean and what words mean for other people makes sense.
W. - Are you suggesting that we don't know what we are talking about?
M. - Could be. I don't know.
W. - You don't know what you are talking about?
M. - Maybe I do, maybe I don't.
W. - Are you leaving me? Are you leaving us? Where are you going? Is there another place where to go?
M. - What does it mean, another place? What does it mean, to go? We cannot escape from what we are. We cannot escape from what we feel.
W. - Talk to me, please. Please. I am imploring you.
M. - I am doing my best, aint I? My best, believe me.
W. - Your best leaves me alone. I need you.
M. - We are all alone. If that means something, I am not sure.
W. - Kiss me.
M. - Is that what you want? To be kissed? I can do that.
W.- Thank you. You are very generous. You may not know what you are doing but you still do it because I did ask you. Fuck.
M. - Maybe I love you. Is that so important? Maybe I don't know it but I love you. Who knows?
W. - I love you. I know it. And it means something. I do love you
M. - Please. Don't.
W. - What do you mean? Don't?
M. - Don't say it. It hurts.
W. - Stop. Please. Come back. Talk to me.
M. - You think that love matters. But does it?  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

About pain

"It positively seems to us as if pain had a body, as if it were a thing, a body with shape and color. Why? Has it the form of the part of the body that hurts?"

Wittgenstein, Zettel, translated by  G. E. M. Anscombe, 
University of California Press, 1967

Subtle insight

What is ultimately to be reduced
must first be expanded.
What is ultimately to be weakened
must first be made strong.
What is ultimately to be discarded
must first be embraced.
What is ultimately to be taken away
must first be given.
This is called subtle insight.

The soft overcomes the hard.
The weak overcomes the strong.
The Tao should never be abandoned.
Weapons should never be displayed.

***

Those who wish to use Tao to influence others
don't rely on force or weapons or
military strategies.
Force rebounds.
Weapons turn on their wielders.
Battles are inevitably followed by famines.

Just do what needs to be done, and then stop.
Attain your purpose, but don't press
your advantage.
Be resolute, but don't boast.
Succeed, but don't crow.
Accomplish, but don't overpower.

Overdoing things invites decay,
and this is against Tao.
Whatever is against Tao soon ceases to be.

About being enlightened

A young man in Japan    arranged his circumstances
so that    he was able to travel to a distant island
   to study Zen with a certain Master    for a
three-year period.           At the end of the three
years,        feeling no sense of accomplishment,
      he presented himself to the Master    and
announced his departure.           The Master said,
“You’ve been here three years.           Why don’t
you stay three months more?”    The student agreed,
       but at the end of the three months    he still
felt that he had made no advance.            When he
told the Master again that he was leaving,
the Master said,         “Look now, you’ve been here
   three years and three months.             Stay
three weeks longer.”     The student did,          but
with no success.              When he told the Master
that absolutely nothing had happened,           the
Master said,           “You’ve been here three years,
three  months,  and  three  weeks.                Stay
 three  more  days,            and  if,            at
 the  end  of  that  time,             you  have  not
 attained  enlightenment,             commit 
suicide.”                    Towards  the  end  of  the
 second  day,   the   student   was   enlightened.

Just a dip. No why.

In   the   poetry   contest   in   China           by
  which   the   Sixth   Patriarch   of   Zen 
Buddhism   was   chosen,                      there
 were   two   poems.                             One
said:                         “The   mind   is   like
  a   mirror.                             It   collects
  dust.                              The   problem   is
          to   remove   the   dust.”
                  The   other   and   winning   poem
          was   actually   a   reply   to   the 
first.                              It   said,
              “Where   is   the   mirror   and   where
  is   the   dust?”           ¶
      Some   centuries   later   in   a   Japanese
  monastery,                        there    was    a
   monk            who    was    always    taking
baths.
         A    younger    monk    came    up    to
him    and    said,                        “Why,
                 if    there    is    no    dust,
                   are    you    always    taking   
baths?”                                        The   
older   monk   replied,                        “Just
  a    dip.                                No    why.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Schubert: String Quartet No. 10, D87 (Adagio) - Belcea Quartet



Rainer Maria Rilke: You, who never arrived

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Zen wisdom

A Zen master once said to me, "Do the opposite of whatever I tell you." So I didn't.

Paradise is exactly like where you are right now ... only much, much better.
Laurie Anderson

- What is nirvana?
- "Nothing happens next. This is it." said the old monk to the young one.

I'd like to offer something to help you but in the Zen School we don't have a single thing!
Zen Master Ikkyu

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.


A student once asked Zen teacher Steve Allen,
"If you were given a wish-fulfilling jewel, what would you wish for?" "To stop wishing," replied Allen.

Q: How much "ego" do you need?
A: Just enough so that you don't step in front of a bus.
Shunryu Suzuki
Last updated: February 5, 2006

In the mood for love (Nat KingCole: Quizás...)