Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Enrico Caruso & Geraldine Farrar - O Soave Fanciulla (1912)

Hell, just let me love her



Fair's fair now, Venus. This girl's got me hooked. All I'm
asking from her Is love - or at least some future hope for my own
Eternal devotion. No, even that's too much - hell, just let me
love her! (Listen, Venus: I've asked you so often now.)
Say yes, pet. I'd be your slave for years, for a lifetime.      
Say yes - unswerving fidelity's my strong suit.
I may not have top-drawer connections, I can't produce blue-blooded
Ancestors to impress you, my father's plain middle-class,
And there aren't any squads of ploughmen to deal with my broad acres -
My parents are both pretty thrifty, and need to be.
What have I got on my side, then? Poetic genius, sweetheart,
Divine inspiration. And love. I'm yours to command –
Unswerving faithfulness, morals above suspicion,
Naked simplicity, a born-to-the-purple blush.
I don't chase thousands of girls, I'm no sexual circus-rider;     
Honestly, all I want is to look after you
Till death do us part, have the two of us living together
All my time, and know you'll cry for me when I'm gone.
Besides, when you give me yourself, what you'll be providing
Is creative material. My art will rise to the theme
And immortalize you. Look, why do you think we remember
The swan-upping of Leda, or Io's life as a cow,
Or poor virgin Europa whisked off overseas, clutching
That so-called bull by the - horn? Through poems, of course.
So you and I, love, will enjoy the same world-wide publicity,  
And our names will be linked, for ever, with the gods.

OVID, THE AMORES: BOOK I (3)

Ovid, The Erotic Poems (translated by 
Peter Green, Penguin Books)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hilda Doolittle: Eurydice


Eurydice

I

So you have swept me back,
I who could have walked with the live souls
above the earth,
I who could have slept among the live flowers
at last;

so for your arrogance
and your ruthlessness
I am swept back
where dead lichens drip
dead cinders upon moss of ash;

so for your arrogance
I am broken at last,
I who had lived unconscious,
who was almost forgot;

if you had let me wait
I had grown from listlessness
into peace,
if you had let me rest with the dead,
I had forgot you
and the past.

II

Here only flame upon flame
and black among the red sparks,
streaks of black and light
grown colourless;

why did you turn back,
that hell should be reinhabited
of myself thus
swept into nothingness?

why did you glance back?
why did you hesitate for that moment?
why did you bend your face
caught with the flame of the upper earth,
above my face?

what was it that crossed my face
with the light from yours
and your glance?
what was it you saw in my face?
the light of your own face,
the fire of your own presence?

What had my face to offer
but reflex of the earth,
hyacinth colour
caught from the raw fissure in the rock
where the light struck,
and the colour of azure crocuses
and the bright surface of gold crocuses
and of the wind-flower,
swift in its veins as lightning
and as white.

III

Saffron from the fringe of the earth,
wild saffron that has bent
over the sharp edge of earth,
all the flowers that cut through the earth,
all, all the flowers are lost;

everything is lost,
everything is crossed with black,
black upon black
and worse than black,
this colourless light.

IV

Fringe upon fringe
of blue crocuses,
crocuses, walled against blue of themselves,
blue of that upper earth,
blue of the depth upon depth of flowers,
lost;

flowers,
if I could have taken once my breath of them,
enough of them,
more than earth,
even than of the upper earth,
had passed with me
beneath the earth;

if I could have caught up from the earth,
the whole of the flowers of the earth,
if once I could have breathed into myself
the very golden crocuses
and the red,
and the very golden hearts of the first saffron,
the whole of the golden mass,
the whole of the great fragrance,
I could have dared the loss.

V

So for your arrogance
and your ruthlessness
I have lost the earth
and the flowers of the earth,
and the live souls above the earth,
and you who passed across the light
and reached
ruthless;

you who have your own light,
who are to yourself a presence,
who need no presence;

yet for all your arrogance
and your glance,
I tell you this:

such loss is no loss,
such terror, such coils and strands and pitfalls
of blackness,
such terror
is no loss;

hell is no worse than your earth
above the earth,
hell is no worse,
no, nor your flowers
nor your veins of light
nor your presence,
a loss;

my hell is no worse than yours
though you pass among the flowers and speak
with the spirits above earth.

VI

Against the black
I have more fervour
than you in all the splendour of that place,
against the blackness
and the stark grey
I have more light;

and the flowers,
if I should tell you,
you would turn from your own fit paths
toward hell,
turn again and glance back
and I would sink into a place
even more terrible than this.

VII

At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;
I have the fervour of myself for a presence
and my own spirit for light;

and my spirit with its loss
knows this;
though small against the black,
small against the formless rocks,
hell must break before I am lost;

before I am lost,
hell must open like a red rose
for the dead to pass. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

How she would admire his sonnet


Vítor did not forget Genoveva's request: 'I want you to write! me a sonnet a day.' He remembered the hero of the novel Don Juan de Pasini, who, every evening after supper, would sit quietly smoking a cigar on the terrace of his castle by the edge of a wood and write a sonnet to his current lover. Italian gentlemen of the Renaissance, whom Titian had painted and who had dined with Cesare Borgia, used to do the same. And he thought it very elegant to write a sonnet each morning and send it to her like a bouquet of flowers. Later, he would publish the poems as a collection and entitle it Caresses; the book would gain great notoriety and he would become famous, but a prospect had only to open up before him and his imagination would gallop away into it like a racehorse, only to lie down after a few jumps, its flanks heaving, like an exhausted nag.
And the following morning, after breakfast, he shut himself up in his room and sat down in his slippers, with a packet of cigarettes on the table and a glass of water to clarify his ideas, and prepared himself to write. For hours he paced the floor and, by supper time, he had produced the first eight lines.
When Clorinda came to call him for supper, he appeared at the table with the wild eyes and animated face of a man newly emerged from the world of ideas. 'Have you been asleep?' asked Uncle Timóteo.
'No, I've been writing,' he said with all the reserve of an initiate speaking to the uninitiated.
After supper, he shut himself up in his room again until nine o'clock, when he at last finished the final two tercets and went out to get some air.
It was a windy, rather gloomy night, with large clouds wandering the sky, occasionally revealing the pale moon. The gusts howling about him made him shudder to his very soul; the houses were all shut up, the gaslights sputtered fearfully, and as he roamed the streets, he was filled by premonitions of terrible misfortunes and mysterious murders. He walked along the Aterro; the water beat sadly against the quays, and over the glittering expanse flickered the narrow lights of boats whose masts, lit by a sudden, icy light, stood out like spectres against the sky.
But that backdrop did not coincide with his luminous state of mind, and so he returned home to make a fair copy of his sonnet with almost paternal delight.
He went to bed with a book by Alfred de Musset, feeling that life was good; at last he felt that ideal, noble, picturesque passion he had read about in books and poems and which had so enchanted him. And fortune had favoured him by giving that passion a dazzlingly glamorous wrapping, which seduced both his mind and his imagination. What other woman in Lisbon could compare to Genoveva? Who else had such clothes, such admirable ideas, such experience of love, so much knowledge of the world and of society?
Of course she had had lovers, but that simply made him appreciate her love all the more. It's so easy to please a poor bourgeois woman who sees only her husband's slippers and her ill-tempered children; it's so easy to seduce a girl of eight­een with her schoolgirl imagination and ideas about mother­hood derived from playing with dolls. But what a glorious thing to be able to interest a woman who knows men so profoundly, a woman whom repeated disappointments have made sceptical, who has grown weary of sensation. It must be akin to the austere pleasure an atheist might feel on becoming a Catholic. One would possess not merely a beautiful body, but a whole complex being. Each of her lovers, each of her relationships, had shaped her, leaving in her spirit or her sense of remorse some part of their personality; holding her in one's arms, possessing her, would be like possessing the refinement of all the elegant people she had known, the wit of dramatists, the polished manners of diplomats, and all the civilisations of which they are the flower, the essence, the delicious, artificial epitome.
How his life had changed. Only a month ago, his existence had been as stupid and banal as the macadam surface of the road, traipsing from the tedium of Dr Caminha's office to the vulgar pleasures of Aninhas' bedroom: he had been a dullard, a nonentity!
Now, though, Genoveva's love had idealised him, ennobled him, lined his soul with sweetness inside and clothed it with glory outside. And he stretched out proudly on the bed, listen­ing to the wind moaning and brushing against the walls of the house.
How she would admire his sonnet, how pleased she would be that he had obeyed her; how could she resist giving him a kiss; and that hope filled his soul with a fierce languor.
The next day, with his sonnet in his wallet, he went to Rua de Sao Bento. Melanie opened the door and said:
'She's not in. She went off to Queluz this morning with Senhor Dâmaso. But Miss Sarah's here ... do come in.'
She opened the door and called Miss Sarah. Vítor went in, like a man fallen from a great height. Saddened, a vague smile on his lips, his heart cold, he entered the salon. He heard the swish of stiff silk over the carpet and Miss Sarah was by his side, red-faced and erect; she too told him that Madame and Mr Dâmaso had left very early for Queluz.

Eça de Queirós, The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers, London, Dedalus, 2000, translated by Margaret Jull Costa


Préparez Vos Mouchoirs | Depardieu, Dewaere, Serrault & Laure | Blier Jr 78'

Thursday, April 25, 2013

At the Lawrence



He went straight to Genoveva's house; he wanted to talk to Mélanie, to question her and find out what it all meant - the trip to Sintra and the move.
Upstairs, he found the front door open; he knocked on the door and went into the house; he peered into the living room where he saw Mélanie standing before him and the broad back of a man in a jacket disappearing into Genoveva's bed­room. Mélanie, quite unperturbed and with the familiar air of a lady of the house and the manner of a confidante, invited him in and asked why he hadn't been to see them.
There were two large trunks in the room, which Mélanie was filling; on the chairs were dresses, various packages and hatboxes; on the floor were piles of underclothes and the occasional sachet of aromatic herbs; there was lace, ribbons on nightdresses, a whole intimate feminine world that gave Vítor a troubling sense of half-glimpsed nakedness.
'So, where are you moving to?'
'To Rua das Flores, a third-floor apartment, on the corner. It's a lovely house and all newly fitted out.' And she praised the house, but that only irritated Vítor.
'And where are they staying in Sintra?'
At the Lawrence. I'm not going until tomorrow, because I had to do the packing. They're in Sintra for a fortnight.'
'I see,' said Vítor, preparing to light a cigarette.
Mélanie ran off to find a match for Vítor, and Vítor strolled about the room. 'So she was permanently installed with that fool Dâmaso!' Vítor felt neither jealous nor sad; he simply hated her, found her vulgar and stupid. 'How I despise her!' he thought. 'If the silly woman came to me now on bended knee, I wouldn't touch her even with tongs!' His foot touched a hat and he gave it a kick that sent it flying against the wall. And all that linen, all those petticoats, even the smell of them irritated him; Dâmaso would have touched them. That beast had lounged on those sheets. It was comical really. Dâmaso! If only he were there now; he would like to hear Dâmaso make one of his facetious comments. And he laughed to himself. What a punch he'd land him. He would, with pleasure, tear him limb from limb. Not out of jealousy, mind, but because he had always disliked him; he was a bourgeois, a conformist and a dandy. He hated him.
Mélanie came back bearing a box of matches.
'So, they're off for a honeymoon in Sintra, are they?'
Mélanie made a slight gesture with her head, smiled faintly and shrugged; then she bent down and went back to packing the trunks, saying:
'Well, when you can't have what you want, you have to make do with what you have.'

Eça de Queirós, The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers, London, Dedalus, 2000, translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Persona ("Young Boys"): Ingmar Bergman

'Stupid vile woman! Hussy! I'm never going to think about her again!'




The next day, Vítor went to find out how Genoveva was. In his mind, he could still see her as she had appeared to him the previous day, reclining on a sofa, her gestures languid, her words weary. He was most put out to see Dâmaso's coupé at the door. Since the coachman knew him, he resisted the temp­tation to withdraw discreetly and went in. On the final flight of stairs, he bumped into Dâmaso, who was coming down. They were both slightly embarrassed.
'She's gone out,' said Dâmaso brusquely.
'I thought she was ill.'
'Ill?' said Dâmaso, surprised. 'No, she's in perfect health. She's gone out. I spent the night with her.'
This was a lie, but he wanted to humiliate Vítor and make him think he was happy. The poor lad turned pale. They went down the stairs in silence.
'So, what have you been up to?' asked Dâmaso, at the front door, drawing on his gloves.
'Oh, nothing much,' said Vítor vaguely.
Dâmaso got into the coupé and, wanting to appear in command, he ordered the coachman rather sharply to drive on and slammed the carriage door shut with a satisfied air, although he was, in fact, furious, because Genoveva had gone out, having promised to wait for him.
Vítor walked slowly down the street. The brusqueness of his friend's words had set a distance between them. 'So much the better,' thought Vítor. 'The man's a fool.'
And he immediately set off on a trawl of all the places where he might meet him. He was furious with him and he wanted to meet him in order to greet him with indifference, as if his mind were on other things. He walked round the Aterro, up and down the Chiado, looked in at all the shops, ate a few cakes at Balthreschi's, but there was still no sign of Dâmaso.
At supper, he was so glum that Uncle Timóteo, who had had enough of silence, said irritably:
'Oh, for heaven's sake, say something. I'm dying for a bit of conversation.'
Vítor apologised; he was done in, under the weather. And having mumbled a few more words, as if his tongue were heavy as lead, he sank back into taciturnity. He couldn't get Dâmaso's words out of his head: 'I spent the night with her'; they sang ironically inside him; he could see her undressing, throwing her arms about Dâmaso's neck, sighing with love; he felt nothing but intense hatred and immense scorn for her. He consoled himself by think­ing how superior he was to Dâmaso, but even while he despised him, he envied him.
'And how's your friend Dâmaso?' asked Uncle Timóteo.
Vítor recovered himself immediately. He didn't know, he hadn't seen him. Nor did he want do. The man was basically a fool. Vítor unleashed a torrent of remarks about the ludicrous figure Dâmaso cut, about his sheer fatuousness, his crass stu­pidity. He warmed to his theme, retailing some of Dâmaso's more laughable faux-pas and ridiculing his clothes. He cut rancorously into his roast veal, as if he were slicing away at Dâmaso's hated flesh.
'What did the lad do to you?'
'To me? Nothing. Honestly. If he had, I'd have split his head open, I would, as sure as two and two make four. I'd tear him limb from limb. I'd walk all over him.'
He was speaking with increasing choler, his pale skin red with passion.
Uncle Timóteo glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and smiled to himself.
'Poor chap,' he murmured.
That night, Vítor visited all the theatres. As it was growing dark, a fine drizzle began to fall. In the cab he took from Rua dos Condes to the Teatro da Trindade and from the Trindade to the Teatro de São Carlos, he was planning what attitude he would take if he should see her in a box. He would not even visit her. He would merely greet her coldly. He would flirt with other women. He would take a tip from the actors. He would speak to Dâmaso and yawn in his face, and if Dâmaso so much as looked at him or made some bold remark, then he would beat him round the head with his cane.
But he did not see Genoveva, and every colour seemed dull to him, every woman hideous, every face inexpressive, and the city, wrapped in damp mist and drizzle, seemed sad as a prison, solitary as a cave. Near the Teatro Dona Maria, he met Palma Gordo, his hands in his pockets, his jacket pulled tightly around him and revealing the plump curves of his large buttocks.
'Have you seen Dâmaso?' Vítor asked him.
Palma, a cigarette between his fleshy, sweaty fingers, said drunkenly:
'He's probably with that. . .' and he used an obscene word.
Vítor almost struck him, but instead turned his back on him and stalked off home.
'Stupid vile woman! Hussy! I'm never going to think about her again!'
He went in to ask if there was a letter for him. Nothing.
That only fuelled his hatred. 'The wretch!' he thought. And following the romantic tradition, according to which any difficulties encountered with ideal love are best remedied by a good dose of licentiousness, he went off to dine at the Malta with a Spanish woman called Mercedes, a delightful girl from Málaga, who claimed to be the daughter of a general and affected aristocratic manners, but ate with her hands and licked her fingers afterwards.
Vítor drank a whole bottle of Colares wine and two glasses of cognac, convinced that sadness made him interesting, and thinking of Alfred de Musset who also used to get drunk in order to forget his disillusion with love.

Eça de Queirós, The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers, London, Dedalus, 2000, translated by Margaret Jull Costa


Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso (Ruggiero Raimondi)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Passion was the worst misfortune...


'So you're in love, are you?' he asked suddenly, picking up a cigarette.
'Madly.'
'Very sad and very stupid.'
Vítor erupted in lyrical exclamations; what could be better than to tremble with love, what could be better than dreams, than kisses, than two entwined bodies?
Camilo shrugged and quickly set out his theory of love in a matter-of-fact voice, as if talking to himself: Passion was the worst misfortune an intelligent man could suffer. Any artist who falls in love is lost; love will introduce into his life all kinds of worries, concerns and compromises, and all work, all thought becomes impossible. Then there's jealousy, feigned emotion, the constant renewal of desire, the sloth of languor, childish dependency; a man's character becomes emasculated, the brain softens, ideas vanish, and someone who was once a force in society is no more than a bordello-keeper. The artist should shun love as the most humiliating of tyrants. To love a woman is to place all of one's vital energies at the service of. . . an organ! It's like being a glutton who only thinks, lives, works and moves in order to satisfy his stomach. The lover exists only to serve, to obey his heart, to give it its respectable name. I have set the artists of my time a great example. I have suppressed love. No woman has ever entered these doors, for woman is just a bundle of caprices, fantasies, nerves, sensibilities, tyrannies, arguments and inconstancies. But since Nature has its needs, and the brain requires to be free of those needs, I selected a female.'
The word shocked Vítor.
'I chose her for her statuesque qualities so that she could be my model. At the time, I was obsessed by the most idiotic ideas. I believed in the nude. I believed in Venus. I imagined that a plastic art should concern itself only with proportions, poses, colour and musculature. Fool! I had forgotten that little thing: the idea. I chose a beautiful female, and it took me a long time to find one, because the fact is most women are hideous; there's no halfway house in women between hideousness and beauty; everything that counts in a woman — breasts, hair, buttocks — all goes to ruin eventually, if we don't turn women into goddesses. Since they are mere false addi­tions to the true human type, which is man, as soon as they lose their beauty, their refinement, their ideal quality, that is all they are, frail additions, objects. Once her breasts drop, her bottom starts to wobble and her hair becomes thin and sparse, a woman is mere myth; she's uglier than a hippopotamus or a monkey.'
Just then, the door opened and Vítor saw the most splendid creature come in bearing a tray. She had very white skin, large, dark, ardent eyes, a mass of magnificent hair, and her small head rested nobly on a statuesque body; one could sense beneath her yellow cotton gown a singular magnificence and firmness of form. She set down the tray with her large, grubby hands, and calmly left again.
'That's her,' said Camilo bluntly, sitting down at the table and cutting himself a thick slice of bread.
'Is she from Lisbon?' asked Vítor.
'No. Lisbon couldn't produce a body like that; the breed has grown corrupt. She's from near Ovar, in the country, and she's a most unusual combination, half-Arab, half-Celt. A fine specimen.'
He walked about the studio, a slice of bread in his hand.
'She's the ideal female for an artist. She's stupid and passive. She eats, obeys, takes her clothes off. She's just a body that takes orders. She doesn't bother me or interrupt me, doesn't speak to me, she's just there. When I need a female, I call her.'
'Are you married?'
'Yes, that was the only way I could get her away from her mother. I bought her, but, instead of giving the old woman gold, I gave her the sacrament of marriage. I paid her in spiritual coin. A good trick, eh? And here she is. All artists should do the same. Our loves are our creations; we give our soul, our blood and our life to love, giving away the very best of ourselves  The female is for those moments when the spirit rests and the beast inside us demands satisfaction.'
'So you're happy, then?'
'No, I'm wretched,' said Camilo.
And sitting down next to Vítor on the couch, he explained.
'I had it all so intelligently worked out, but I forgot one thing: children! I forgot the children. I was completely unprepared when nine months later, a great hefty boy arrived, a little seed of flesh, who yells, bawls, roars and generally makes the house a hell. Family life is the death of the artist. How I suffer. Did you hear the cradle creaking a little while ago, well, that's the sweetest music I hear, otherwise, in the morning, there are thunderous shouts and, in the evening, terrifying screams echoing through the house . . . and of course my wife's busy, so I have to take on a maid. It's an inferno, an inferno! I must amend my maxim: what the artist needs is a sterile female. Anyway, her name's Joana. And the extraordinary thing is that pregnancy and childbirth have not changed a line of her body; there's not a fold, not a wrinkle, no slackening of a single curve. She's just perfect. A superb model . . . for those fools who believe in line and form . . . Joana!'
The woman came in. This time, her eyes, which she had kept lowered when she first entered, looked directly at Vítor and seemed to grow wide with astonishment; something in them flashed. Then, picking up the tea tray, she left as serenely as she had come.
'So there you have my views on love,' said Camilo, clapping him on the back.
Vítor was putting on his hat.
'What about this portrait, then?'
Vítor would have to talk to Genoveva. Camilo was thinking, one finger resting on his chin.
'I know, I'll paint her in revolutionary mode. What a painting! Wait, I'll get someone to light you down the stairs. I won't come with you, I don't want to catch cold.' And he shouted: 'Joana, show this gentleman out, will you?'
Vítor went down the stairs, Joana followed, holding an oil lamp. But her serene footsteps, the brush of her dress on the steps, troubled Vítor. At the front door, he lit a cigarette on the flame of the oil lamp, and his eyes met Joana's eyes. It was only a moment, but Vítor's heart shuddered with desire. He took off his hat and thanked her:
'Goodnight, madam.'
She blushed and replied:
'Goodnight, sir.'


Eça de Queirós, The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers, chapt. V, London, Dedalus, 2000, translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Facebook nigtmare

Facebook may have been invented as a substitute for boredom. Maybe it was born too as a mediocre substitute for true personal relationships within a society scared by real human contacts and by true feelings. Facebook works the way poems,  novels and films work: everything seems real; but everything is fake or, if you prefer, it's all about fictional places, fictional feelings, fictional relationships. You are there without never really being there. You feel a lot of things without incurring the danger of being hurt by genuine pain or disaster. At the end of each poem, photo, short story or episode of the novel you are still alone, as lonely as you were before. Nothing happened. Cosa mentale...  and then emptiness. You may have visited Dante's paradise (or purgatory or inferno) but you were able to came back from that experience more or less untouched.

At the same time Facebook is about monetizing our feelings, our creative impulses, our thoughts, our energy. Facebook is some sort of second and revised edition of boring life in modern capitalist societies. But it rewards our narcissistic needs: we are in some way a star in a big movie and not just a bored guy spending most of his time alone in an empty apartment or at Starbucks gazing to other bored faces.

The morons that invented Facebook for us morons are making a lot of money with it. We are the human substance of their robotic machinery. It's like making a film without paying the actors because the actors, like rats in the laboratory, apparently move and act spontaneously, unaware or disinterested of their condition and situation.

It could be different if money were not what matters most for the guys who created this perverse machine. I guess that the ones among us that still use Facebook knowing what it is about keep using it because it in some way facilitates without too much formality our relationship with some of our distant friends and acquaintances. If we could keep it for just that minimal service, the danger wouldn't most probably be enormous.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

About silence

He knew all the advantages of keeping his mouth shut but he was unable to put in practice for longtime his developed knowledge of himself. Stay quiet, don't even move, stay at home and don't talk, he frequently uttered to himself. He could do it for a while, then again he would sin, he would move and talk. He tried to find an excuse for his loathsome behavior but was unable to find one: his alter ego, so different from himself, kept silent all along, didn't answer any of his questions. My alter ego, whoever he is, is much better than I, he concluded. And he started thinking about the best way of getting rid of himself and letting the alter ego take his place.

Johannes E. Soice

Praise God!

An      old      rabbi      in      Poland
        or      some      place      thereabouts
              was      walking      in      a      
thunderstorm                    from      one      
village                    to      another.
                                         His      health
     was      poor.
                He      was      blind,
                       covered                    with
     sores.
        All      the      afflictions      of      Job
     were      his.
                  Stumbling      over      something
                  he      fell      in      the      mud.
                                                      
Pulling       himself       up       with       
difficulty,                                         he
     raised      his      hands                    
towards      heaven                    and      cried
     out,                                          “Praise
                    God!
                        The       Devil       is       on
      Earth                       and       doing
 his        work                        beautifully!”

John Cage's Zen stories

J'eusse été trop heureuse (Lettres Portugaises)



Qu'on a de peine à se résoudre à soupçonner longtemps la bonne foi de ceux qu’on aime. Je vois bien que la moindre excuse vous, suffit, et sans que vous preniez le soin de m'en faire, l’amour que j’ai pour vous vous sert si fidèlement, que je ne puis consentir à vous trouver coupable,  que  pour jouir du sensible plaisir de vous justifier moi-même. Vous m'avez consommée par vos assiduités, vous m'avez enflammée par vos transports, vous m'avez charmée par vos complaisances, vous m'avez assurée par vos serments, mon inclination violente m'a séduite, et les suites de ces commencements si agréables et si heureux ne sont que des larmes, que des soupirs, et qu'une mort funeste, sans que je puisse y porter aucun remède. Il est vrai que j‘ai eu des plaisirs bien surprenants en vous aimant : mais ils me coûtent d’étranges douleurs, et tous les mouvements que vous me causez sont extrêmes. Si j’avais résisté avec opiniâtreté à votre 'amour, si je vous avais donné quelque sujet de chagrin et de jalousie pour vous enflammer davantage, si vous aviez remarqué quelque ménagement artificieux dans ma conduite, si j'avais enfin voulu opposer ma raison à l'inclination naturelle que j'ai pour vous, dont vous me fîtes bientôt apercevoir (quoique mes efforts eussent été sans doute inutiles), vous pourriez me punir sévèrement et vous servir de votre pouvoir : mais vous me parûtes aimable, avant que vous m'eussiez dit que vous aimiez, vous me témoignâtes une grande passion, j'en fus ravie, et je m'abandonnai à vous aimer éperdument. Vous n'étiez point aveuglé, comme moi; pourquoi avez-vous donc souffert que je devinsse en l'état où je me trouve? qu'est-ce que vous vouliez faire de tous mes emportements, qui ne pouvaient vous être que très importuns? Vous saviez bien que vous ne seriez pas toujours en Portugal, et pourquoi m'y avez-vous voulu choisir pour me rendre si malheureuse? Vous eussiez trouvé sans doute en ce pays quelque femme qui eût été plus belle, avec laquelle vous eussiez eu autant de plaisirs, puisque vous n’en cherchiez que de grossiers, qui vous eut fidèlement aimé aussi longtemps qu'elle vous eût vu, que le temps eût pu consoler de votre absence, et que vous auriez pu quitter sans perfidie et sans cruauté : ce procédé est bien plus d'un tyran, attaché à persécuter, que d'un amant, qui ne doit penser qu’à plaire. Hélas! pourquoi exercez-vous tant de rigueurs avec un cœur qui est à vous ?Je vois bien que vous êtes aussi facile à vous laisser  persuader contre moi, que je l'ai été à me laisser persuader en votre faveur; j'aurais résisté, sans avoir besoin de tout mon amour, et sans m'apercevoir que j'eusse rien fait d'extraordinaire, à de plus grandes raisons que ne peuvent être celles qui vous ont obligé à me quitter : elles m'eussent paru bien faibles, et il n'y en a point qui eussent jamais pu m'arracher d'auprès de vous ; mais vous avez voulu profiter des prétextes que vous avez trouvés de retourner en France; un vaisseau partait: que ne le laissiez-vous; partir? Votre famille vous avait écrit : ne savez-vous pas toutes les persécutions que j'ai souffertes de la mienne? Votre honneur vous engageait à m'abandonner : ai-je pris quelque soin du mien ?

J’eusse été trop heureuse, si nous avions passé notre vie ensemble : mais puisqu’il fallait qu’une absence cruelle nous séparât, il me semble que je dois être bien aise de n’avoir pas été infidèle, et je ne voudrais pas, pour toutes les choses du monde, avoir commis une action si noire. Quoi ! vous avez connu le fond de mon cœur et de ma tendresse, et vous avez pu vous résoudre à me laisser pour jamais, et à m'exposer aux frayeurs que je dois avoir, que vous ne vous souvenez plus de moi que pour me sacrifier à une nouvelle passion? Je vois bien que je vous aime comme une folle ; cependant je ne me plains point de toute la violence des mouvements de mon cœur, je m'accoutume à ses persécutions, et je ne pourrais vivre sans un plaisir que je découvre, et dont je jouis en vous aimant au milieu de mille douleurs : mais je suis sans cesse persécutée avec un extrême désagrément par la haine et par le dégoût que j'ai pour toutes choses; ma famille, mes amis et ce couvent me sont insupportables ; tout ce que je suis obligée de voir et tout ce qu’il faut que je fasse de toute nécessité, m’est odieux; je suis si jalouse de ma passion qu’il me semble que toutes mes actions et que tous mes devoirs vous regardent. Oui, je fais quelque scrupule, si je n'emploie tous les moments de ma vie pour vous ; que ferais-je, hélas ! sans tant de haine et sans tant d'amour" qui remplissent mon cœur? Pourrais-je survivre à ce qui m'occupe incessamment, pour mener une vie tranquille et languissante? Ce vide et cette insensibilité ne peuvent me convenir.

Guilleragues, Lettres Portugaises, extrait de la quatrième lettre

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Madredeus: Fado das Dúvidas

Linkedin abusive behavior

Just because you let Linkedin access your email contacts they start sending invitations to all contacts in your email boxes in your name (many of the people in your contacts may have sent you a comercial message or are part of some group - and you don't even know who they are). It is surprising that this abusive behavior is not punished by law. I hate Linkedin! They have been forcing themselves into our life without any respect for privacy. If Linkedin keeps behaving so disrespectfully they should be banned.

Doris Lessing: The Habit of Loving


Then one night she woke and saw him watching her.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, startled. "Can't you sleep?"
"I'm only watching you, dear," he said hopelessly.
She lay curled up beside him, her fist beside her on the pillow, between him and her. "Why aren't you happy?" she asked suddenly; and as George laughed with a sudden bitter irony, she sat up, arms around her knees, prepared to con­sider this problem practically.
"This isn't marriage; this isn't love," he announced. He sat up beside her. He didn’t know that he had never used that tone to her before. A portly man, his elderly face flushed with sorrow, he had forgotten her for the moment, and he was speaking across her from his past, resurrected in her, to his past. He was dignified with responsible experience and the warmth of a lifetime's responses. His eyes were heavy, satirical and condemning. She rolled herself up against him and said with a small smile, "Then show me. George."
"Show you?" he said, almost stammering. “Show you?” But he held her, the obedient child, his cheek against hers, until she slept; then a too close pressure of his shoulder on hers caused her to shrink and recoil from him away to the edge of the bed.
In the morning she looked at him oddly, with an odd sad little respect, and said, “You know what, George? You've just got into the habit of loving."
"What do you mean, dear?"
She rolled out of bed and stood beside it, a waif in her white pyjamas, her black hair ruffled. She slid her eyes at him and smiled. "You just want some­thing in your arms, that's all. What do you do when you're alone? Wrap yourself around a pillow?"
He said nothing; he was cut to the heart.
"My husband was the same," she remarked gaily. "Funny thing is, he didn't care anything about me." She stood considering him, smiling mockingly. "Strainge, ain't it?" she commented and went off to the bathroom. That was the second time she had mentioned her husband.
That phrase, " the habit of loving," made a revolution in George. It was true, he thought. He was shocked out of himself, out of the instinctive response to the movement of skin against his, the pressure of a breast. It seemed to him that he was seeing Bobby quite newly. He had not really known her before. The de­lightful little girl had vanished, and he saw a young woman toughened and wary because of defeats and failures he had never stopped to think of. He saw that the sadness that lay behind the black eyes was not at all impersonal; he saw the first sheen of grey lying on her smooth hair; he saw that the full curve of her cheek was the beginning of the softening into middleage. He was appalled at his ego­tism. Now, he thought, he would really know her, and she would begin to love him in response to it.

Doris Lessing, The Habit of Loving

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Katherine Mansfield: The Quarrel

Our quarrel seemed a giant thing,
It made the room feel mean and small,
The books, the lamp, the furniture,
The very pictures on the wall.

Crowded upon us as we sat
Pale and terrified, face to face.
"Why do you stay?" she said, "my room
Can never be your resting place."

"Katinka, ere we part for life,
I pray you walk once more with me."
So down the dark, familiar road
We paced together, silently.

The sky--it seemed on fire with stars!
I said:--"Katinka dear, look up!"
Like thirsty children, both of us
Drank from the giant loving cup.

"Who were those dolls?" Katinka said
"What were their stupid, vague alarms?"
And suddenly we turned and laughed
And rushed into each other's arms.

Friday, April 12, 2013

José Matias



J’étais censé, pour lui prouver
mon amour, la marier. Je ne
pouvais pas le faire. Elle était
devenue le rêve, comment la
ramener à la réalité ? Humain,

je n’étais pas à la hauteur de
la tâche. Je me suis enfui. Ce
qu’il a dit de moi, le petit prof,
les raisons qu’il a invoquées
pour expliquer ma conduite,

passent à côté du problème.
La philosophie ne peut pas
tout expliquer. Il a brodé sur
mon comportement et sur
mon destin il a dit des paroles

sensées peut-être. Mais la
gravité de la situation moi
seul pouvait la connaître.
Avez-vous essayé d’aimer une
ombre ? Avez-vous essayé

d’entrer dans le rêve pour y
prendre celle que vous aimez
et la ramener à la rude aspérité
du réel ?  Non, je n’avais pas peur
de voir se ruiner dans l’usure du

temps mon amour pour Elisa. Non,
je ne craignais pas les mesquins
détails du quotidien dans le mariage.
Vous n’y êtes pas du tout. Eurydice
elle était devenue pour moi : celle

que je devais ramener de la mort où
dans le rêve je l’avais ensevelie. Et
devenue réelle, je pourrais enfin
l’aimer. Mais la rendre réelle était
l’impossible tâche. J’y ai pensé, puis,

ayant appris que je ne pouvais que
faillir dans mon ambition, j’ai
préféré y renoncer. Je l’ai laissée
dans le rêve où elle appartenait.
Et j’ai voulu moi-même quitter le

rêve sans toutefois jamais y réussir.
Appartenir en même temps au rêve
et à la réalité est intenable. Peut-on
s’éloigner à jamais, cependant, de
celle que toujours nous caressons

dans notre cœur ? J’ai commencé à
boire, j’ai abandonné la maison, je
suis devenu celui qui n’appartenait
plus nulle part. Je la regardais de
loin : elle, le rêve. Mais ni l’âme

ni l’amour ne m’ont jamais faillis
en ces dernières années. Et mourir
n’a été pour moi que la fin du
tourment pour lequel il n’y a pas
de nom, la fin aussi de l’amer

plaisir de la passion, cette déesse
que jamais nous ne serons capables
de rendre humaine. Dans la mort elle
s’est approchée de moi en souriant, sa
tendre main a effleuré mon visage

meurtri. Mes yeux se sont fermés et
je l’ai prise avec moi enfin. Elle est
devenue à jamais l’aimée, celle dont
le si puissant amour avait eu raison de
mon faible corps, de mon faible esprit.