30 July 2023

Keith Waldrop 1932-2023


The Marquis de Sade regained the interior of the erupting volcano

Whence he had come

With his beautiful hands still in ruffles

His eyes of a young girl

And that intelligence at the rim of panic that was

His alone

But from the salon phosphorescent with visceral lamps

He did not cease to hurl mysterious commands

That breached the moral night

Through that breach I see

The great creaking shadows of the old sapped husk


So that I may love you

As the first man loved the first woman

In utter freedom

This freedom

For which fire itself was made man

For which the Marquis de Sade defied the centuries with his great abstract trees

With his tragic acrobats

Caught in the gossamer of desire

(André Breton, Le Marquis de Sade, tr. Keith Waldrop)

28 July 2023

Milan Kundera 1929-2023

The symphony is a musical epic. We might compare it to a journey leading through the boundless reaches of the external world, on and on, farther and farther. Variations also constitute a journey, but not through the external world. You recall Pascal's pensée about how man lives between the abyss of the infinitely large and the infinitely small. The journey of the variation form leads to that second infinity, the infinity of internal variety concealed in all things.

What Beethoven discovered in the variations was another space and another direction. In that sense they are a challenge to undertake the journey, another invitation au voyage. 

The variation form is a form of maximum concentration. It enables the composer to limit himself to the matter at hand, to go straight to the heart of it. The subject matter is a theme, which often consists of no more that sixteen measures. Beethoven goes as deeply into those sixteen measures as if he had gone down a mine to the bowels of the earth.

The journey to the second infinity is no less adventurous than the journey of the epic, and closely parallels the physicist's descent into the wondrous innards of the atom. With every variation Beethoven moves farther and farther from the original theme, which bears no more resemblance to the final variation than a flower to its image under the microscope.

Man knows he cannot embrace the universe with all its suns and stars. But he finds it unbearable to be condemned to lose the second infinity as well, the one so close, so nearly within reach.. if it is perfection we are after, we must go to the heart of the matter, and we can never quite reach it.

That the eternal infinity escapes us we accept with equanimity, the guilt over letting the second infinity escape follows us to the grave.

(Kniha smíchu a zapomnění, 1979, tr. Michael Henry Heim)



Jane Birkin 1946-2023


Refroidis ça t'va bien quand tu dors- Lautréamont les chants d'MaldororTu n'aimes pas moi j'adore- et quand bien mêmeTout se voile dehorsJe me guiderais sur l'étoile du nord- rompre les chaînesSans souci de son sortS'eloigner des regrets et remords - Lautréamont les chants d'Maldoror

(paroles de Serge Gainsbourg)

Peter Brotzmann 1941-2023



+ these, and


+ (II), (III)

Philippe Sollers 1936-2023


Out on the balcony, the wind will wake me up, the cool wind blowing straight in my face.. Everything has disappeared now; this distance, this ever-receding mass of stars, in that absolute void, in the cold, is no more. No shape; no direction, no center, as when I feel without ceasing to see what I see, the imperceptible, blind movement of what awaits and threatens, quite near, on the other side.. So it is useless to continue the experiment. For his own presence, when he directs his vision on to his hand, the earth, the vague outline of the mountains, seems to him to be surprising enough; the proximity in which he finds himself so improbable - exactly his own reflection enlarged - that he regrets his earlier doubts; quite unafraid, reassured even, since he must now go to sleep; since what he sees must not the seen and, after all, he is resting there, not here, in this unsuitable situation, walking carefully along the rocky mountain path, where occasionally a stone starts rolling down; where he stops, followed by these men, to listen.

Celestial vault endlessly observed, where he will no longer have the time, will no longer be the age to go out walking; nocturnal vault where they will navigate noiselessly and without collisions, as he has done so many times from his bed near the open window (and the lime tree in the garden moved in the wind); as he wished to live, too, plunged in this element, this substance, too heavy, too thick, that has not succeeded, and will not succeed in holding him back. How many voyages by instantaneous trajectory, how many places already occupied, reserved in the same way, and the immediate return, without anybody or anything - not even himself perhaps - suspecting anything ... Motionless, without leaving his chair ... Precise and secret repertory of attitudes; circumstances altered by a trivial thought: his arm lying in the sun, his face in the shade; his hand placed one evening on the edge of a well ... Details that he projects in his mind as violently as possible; details that held him back and which now call him on... Anyway, do they not tend to come together, in this place that eludes and overtakes him; an illusory construction that despite itself he can only vaguely substantiate? Is he not walking among them now, without seeing them? Is he not, at each step, an obstacle to their existence? Himself a false collection of their hidden multitude? Observing in the dark, starry sky, he recomposes the following fictional elements: carnivorous flowers,  multicolored canals of the planets; interstellar silences; giant rainbows; fabulous animals doomed in advance; strange diseases that can always be cured (like those explorers lost in ice-bound territory who, without food, gradually waste away, but can be saved a the last moment by fruit). And if some fellow-traveler came to a sudden end (blown up, submerged), one communicated with his new form by means of a system of individually controlled screens: the position of the stars; all points of view; the enumeration of universal thought in terms of concrete elements (numerical fragmentations provided by an arithmetical table) and, in a general way, any imaginable spectacle whatsoever. Then ever onwards, without interruption or going back, the voyage continued.

(Le Parc, 1961, tr. A.M. Sheridan Smith)

Karl Berger 1935-2023

Karaikudi R. Mani 1945-2023

Sinéad O'Connor 1966-2023

Cormac McCarthy 1933-2023

There stood on its farther rim a spire of smoke attended and crowned by a plutonic light where the waters have broke open. Erupting hot gouts of lava and great upended slabs of earth and a rain of small stones that hissed for miles in the sea. As we watched there reared out of the smoking brine a city of old bone coughed up from the sea's floor, pale attic bone delicate as a shell and half melting, a chalken shambles coralgrown that slewed into shape of temple, column, plinth and cornice, and across the whole a frieze of archer and warrior and marblebreasted mail all listing west and moving slowly their stone limbs. As these figures began to cool and take on life Suttree among the watchers said that this time there are witnesses, for life does not come slowly. It rises in one massive mutation and all its changed utterly and forever. We have witnessed this thing today which prefigures for all time the way in which historic orders proceed. And some said that the girl who bathed her swollen belly in the stone pool in the garden last evening was the author of the wonder they attended. And a maid bearing water in a marble jar came down from the living frieze toward the dreamer with eyes restored black of core and iris brightly painted attic blue and she moved toward him with a smile.

(Suttree, 1979)

Tony Bennett 1926-2023

João Donato 1934-2023

03 July 2023

"He used to write me from Africa. He contrasted African time to European time, and also to Asian time. He said that in the 19th century mankind had come to terms with space, and that the great question of the 20th was the coexistence of different concepts of time. By the way, did you know that there are emus in the Île de France?...

"Hayao Yamaneko invents video games with his machine. To please me he puts in my best beloved animals: the cat and the owl. He claims that electronic texture is the only one that can deal with sentiment, memory, and imagination...


"I'm writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility.

"Legends are born out of the need to decipher the indecipherable. Memories must make do with their delirium, with their drift. A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector. Madness protects, as fever does.

"I envy Hayao in his 'zone,' he plays with the signs of his memory. He pins them down and decorates them like insects that would have flown beyond time, and which he could contemplate from a point outside of time: the only eternity we have left. I look at his machines. I think of a world where each memory could create its own legend..


"He wrote me: I've understood the visions. Suddenly you're in the desert the way you are in the night; whatever is not desert no longer exists. You don't want to believe the images that crop up.

"Did I write you that there are emus in the Ile de France? This name—Island of France—sounds strangely on the island of Sal...


"So, it sufficed to wait and the planet itself staged the working of time. I saw what had been my window again. I saw emerge familiar roofs and balconies, the landmarks of the walks I took through town every day, down to the cliff where I had met the children. The cat with white socks that Haroun had been considerate enough to film for me naturally found its place. And I thought, of all the prayers to time that had studded this trip the kindest was the one spoken by the woman of Gotokuji, who said simply to her cat Tora, “Cat, wherever you are, peace be with you.”

"And then in its turn the journey entered the 'zone,' and Hayao showed me my images already affected by the moss of time, freed of the lie that had prolonged the existence of those moments swallowed by the spiral. 


"Then I went down into the basement where my friend—the maniac—busies himself with his electronic graffiti. Finally his language touches me, because he talks to that part of us which insists on drawing profiles on prison walls. A piece of chalk to follow the contours of what is not, or is no longer, or is not yet; the handwriting each one of us will use to compose his own list of 'things that quicken the heart,' to offer, or to erase. In that moment poetry will be made by everyone, and there will be emus in the 'zone.'"


(Chris Marker, Sans Soleil, 1983)