I want to be with those who know secret things, or else alone | Rainer Maria Rilke


I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough
to make every minute holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
just to lie before you like a thing,
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will,
and I want simply to be with my will, as it goes toward action,
and in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things
or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
and I never want to be blind, or to be too old
to hold up your heavy and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things
true before you.
I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at
closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that took me safely
through the wildest storm of all.


I Am Too Alone In The World, And Not Alone Enough, 
Rainer Maria Rilke
tr. Robert Bly

< Rainer Maria Rilke in Moscow by Leonid Pasternak (1928)

Έμμα | Jane Austen (1815)


"I have been so busy managing everyone else’s heart, I do not know my own."

Jane Austen, Emma, 1815



''Η Έμμα συνέχισε να μη διατηρεί καμιά αμφιβολία για το ότι ήταν ερωτευμένη. Μόνον ως ποιο σημείο δεν ήταν σίγουρη. Στην αρχή νόμιζε ότι ήταν πάρα πολύ. Κατόπιν ελάχιστα.
...Δεν της έφτασε ούτε η υπόλοιπη μέρα ούτε η επόμενη νύχτα για να ταχτοποιήσει τις σκέψεις της. Είχε χαθεί μέσα στη σύγχυση όλων όσα είχαν εισβάλει στο μυαλό της...Άλλοτε καθόταν ασάλευτη σ' ένα  μέρος, άλλοτε περιφερόταν, πότε μες στο δωμάτιο της, πότε στους θάμνους - όπου κι αν πήγαινε, όποια στάση κι αν έπαιρνε, καταλάβαινε πως είχε ενεργήσει εντελώς άτσαλα, ότι είχε υποταχθεί σε άλλους σε πολύ ταπεινωτικό βαθμό, ότι είχε υποταχθεί στον εαυτό της σε βαθμό ακόμα ταπεινότερο...Η πρώτη προσπάθεια ήταν να καταλάβει, απόλυτα να καταλάβει, τα αισθήματα της δικής της καρδιάς...Ντρεπόταν για ό,τι ένιωθε, εκτός απ' αυτό που την έκανε να νιώθει η αποκάλυψη της...η αγάπη της για τον κύριο Νάιτλυ. Κάθε άλλη σκέψη την αηδίαζε.
Με απαράδεκτη ματαιοδοξία είχε πιστέψει ότι κατέχει τα μυστικά των αισθημάτων των άλλων, με ασυγχώρετη αλαζονεία εννοούσε ν' αποφασίζει για τη μοίρα των άλλων...
-Έμμα, εκείνο που φοβάμαι είναι μια λέξη...Την κοίταξε σοβαρά για να δει τι επίδραση θα είχε πάνω της η ερώτηση και η έκφραση των ματιών του την παρέλυε...Η Έμμα ήταν σχεδόν έτοιμη να καταρρεύσει κάτω από τη συγκίνηση της στιγμής. Ο φόβος μήπως ξυπνήσει απ' το ευτυχισμένο εκείνο όνειρο ήταν, ίσως, ό,τι αισθανόταν εντονότερα.''


Έμμα, Jane Austen (1815)
μτφ: Φώντας Κονδύλης


The poetry of chess | Vladimir Nabokov










Why are you including the chess problems with the poems?


Because problems are the poetry of chess. They demand from the composer the same virtues that characterize all worthwhile art: originality, invention, harmony, conciseness, complexity, and splendid insincerity.


Vladimir Nabokov [interview:]

Book//mark - The Unnamable | Samuel Beckett, 1953

Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, 1953                          Samuel Beckett outside a Parisian café, 1988


"[T]hat’s what I feel, an outside and an inside and me in the middle, perhaps that’s what I am, the thing that divides the world in two…"

“I don't know: perhaps it's a dream, all a dream. (That would surprise me.) I'll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again. (It will be I?) Or dream (dream again), dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs (I don't know, that's all words), never wake (all words, there's nothing else). You must go on, that's all I know. They're going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They're going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn't last, that still lasts? It will be I? You must go on. I can't go on. You must go on. I'll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any - until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it's done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.) It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don't know, I'll never know: in the silence you don't know. You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.”

“Where now? Who now? When now?”

“Yes, in my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of”

"...To go on means going from here, means finding me, losing me, vanishing and beginning again, a stranger first, then little by little the same as always, in another place, where I shall say I have always been, of which I shall know nothing, being incapable of seeing, moving, thinking, speaking, but of which little by little, in spite of these handicaps, I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always, the same which seems made for me and does not want me, which I seem to want and do not want, take your choice, which spews me out or swallows me up, I’ll never know, which is perhaps merely the inside of my distant skull where once I wandered, now am fixed, lost for tininess, or straining against the walls, with my head, my hands, my feet, my back, and ever murmuring my old stories, my old story, as if it were the first time."


Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, 1953


Also:

Let My Shadow Disappear Into Yours | Par Lagerkvist





Let my shadow disappear into yours.
Let me lose myself
under the tall trees,
that themselves lose their crowns in the twilight,
surrendering themselves to the sky and the night.



Par Lagerkvist (1891 - 1974)
Let My Shadow Disappear Into Yours


tr. W.H. Auden & Leif Sjöberg

The Metamorphosis | Franz Kafka, 1915 / First page annotations by Vladimir Nabokov




Nabokov’s drawings and annotations on the first page of Kafka’s the Metamorphosis.



"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes."

“I cannot make you understand.
I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me.
I cannot even explain it to myself.”


“What's happened to me,' he thought. It was no dream.”


“What if I slept a little more and forgot about all this nonsense.”

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, 1915


 Vladimir Nabokov, teaching his students how to read Kafka, pointed out to them that the insect into which Gregor Samsa is transformed is in fact a winged beetle, an insect that carries its wings under its armoured back, and that if Gregor had only discovered them, he would have been able to escape. And then Nabokov added: “Many a Dick and a Jane grow up like Gregor, unaware that they too have wings and can fly.”


Warning: Jazz -- a Drug | E. Elliott Rawlins, M.D. , 1925

E. Elliott Rawlins, M.D., writing in the New York Amsterdam News, April 1, 1925:







...The form of music
called jazz is just as intoxicating as morphine or cocaine;
it is just as harmful, and yet its use is not determined by law.





Al Jolson - Avalon (1920)

Ben Bernie and His Orchestra - Sweet Georgia Brown (1925) 

Art Landry - Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue (1925)

Hoagy Carmichael - Riverboat Shuffle

...Jazz is killing some people; some are going insane; others are losing their religion. The young girls and boys, who constantly take jazz every day and night, are becoming absolutely bad, and some criminals.


...Jazz, like any other drug, should be used only when needed, in a specific dose, and by those who know how it should be used. A little jazz is all right and proper; an overdose is harmful.


The New York Amsterdam News, April 1, 1925. The Amsterdam News was another influential black newspaper, somewhat stodgier than the Chicago Defender. Like anyone else concerned about “respectability,” middle-class black people in the 1920s were not warmly receptive to jazz, which at the time was signified as the equivalent of gangsta rap, punk rock and death metal rolled into one. It was simply the most depraved thing to happen to music since ragtime. So here’s the paper’s medical columnist warning his public about the addictive and soul-destroying properties of this dangerous music... (source)



Eyes / Beneath the Cowl | James Joyce / Helmar Lerski, 1916 - 36

 Helmar Lerski: Self-Portrait in the Model’s Eye, 1930


“His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon a tide. He heard what her eyes said to him 
from beneath their cowl and knew that in some dim past, whether in life or revery, he had heard 
their tale before.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916


Helmar Lerski, Eye Closed, 1936


Book//mark - Η τρέλα | Leonid Andreyev (1902)

Leonid Andreyev, Msyl , 1902 (Thought / A Dilemma: A Story of Mental Perplexity)


''Από ό,τι υπάρχει εκπληκτικό και ακατανόητο στη ζωή, τίποτα δεν είναι πιο θαυμαστό από την ανθρώπινη σκέψη. Υπάρχει  μέσα σ' αυτή ένα θείο στοιχείο. Είναι  ένα δείγμα της αιωνιότητας, κι είναι μια δύναμη που δεν έχει όρια. Οι άνθρωποι στέκονται κατάπληκτοι κι αποθαυμάζουν κοιτώντας τις χιονισμένες κορυφές των ψηλών βουνών. Αν καταλάβαιναν τους εαυτούς τους, θα έμεναν ακόμη πιο εκστατικοί για την ίδια τους σκέψη απ' όλα τα βουνά κι όλες τις ομορφιές κι όλους τους θησαυρούς του κόσμου.''

''Και απολάμβανα τη σκέψη μου. Αθώα στην ομορφιά της, μου δινότανε, περιπαθής σαν μια ερωμένη, με υπηρετούσε σαν σκλάβα και με βοηθούσε σαν φίλος.''

''Η μονοκόμματη σκέψη είχε σπάσει σε χιλιάδες άλλες σκέψεις και κάθε μια ήταν δυνατή κι όλες ήσαν εχθροί, γύριζαν σ' έναν άγριο κύκλο,  η μουσική τους ήταν μια φωνή θηρίου, αχολογούσε σαν τρομπέτα που 'ρχότανε από ένα βάθος αόρατο για μένα. Ήταν η απομακρυσμένη σκέψη κι η πιο τρομερή έχιδνα, γιατί κρυβότανε στο σκοτάδι. Είχε φύγει απ' το μυαλό μου, όπου την κρατούσα σφιχτά, για να πάει  στα πιο απόκρυφα μέλη του σώματος, στα σκοτεινά βάθη τ΄ανεξερεύνητα. Και κει φώναζε σαν ξένη, σαν σκλάβα που ελευθερώθηκε, αναιδής και κυνική στην ατιμωρησία της.''

''Θα μου αποδείξετε πώς είμαι τρελός. Εγώ θα σας αποδείξω πως είμαι υγιής. Σεις θα μου αποδείξετε πως είμαι καλά και εγώ θα σας αποδείξω πως είμαι τρελός. Θα μου πείτε πως δεν πρέπει να σκοτώνει κανείς, ούτε να κλέβει, ούτε να απατά, γιατί είναι ανήθικο κι εγκληματικό, κι εγώ θα σας αποδείξω πως μπορεί κανείς να σκοτώνει και να κλέβει και πως είναι πολύ ηθικό. Και θα σκεπτόσαστε και θα μιλάτε, κι εγώ θα σκέπτομαι και θα μιλάω το ίδιο, κι όλοι θα έχουμε δίκιο και κανείς μας δεν θα χει δίκιο. Πού βρίσκεται ο δικαστής που να μπορεί να μας δικάσει και να βρει την αλήθεια; ''


Leonid Andreyev, Η τρέλα, 1902 μτφ: Μιχάλης Ποταμιάνος
Leonid Andreyev, Msyl , 1902 (Thought / A Dilemma: A Story of Mental Perplexity)


Also:

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