Posts Tagged ‘time’

The nature of things

November 4, 2014

Nine days ago my wonderful, beloved uncle died of cancer. Last Friday I stood by his coffin, spread with native wildflowers (tea tree and gum blossoms) and a little bunch of late season forget-me-nots, and read from Thoreau’s Walden and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.


I am made up of the causal and the material. Neither of these will disappear into nothing, just as neither came to be out of nothing. So every part of me will be assigned its changed place in some part of the universe, and that will change again into another part of the universe, and so on to infinity.


It is the nature of all things to change, to perish and be transformed, so that in succession different things can come to be.


What a tiny part of the boundless abyss of time has been allotted to each of us – and this is soon vanished in eternity.

I will miss him so much.


July 27, 2010

No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul’s warmth,—I pluck the rose
And love it more than tongue can speak—
Then the good minute goes.

Already how am I so far
Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?

Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern—
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.

[Robert Browning, ‘Two in the Campagne’, ll. 46-60.]

It will pass,

April 15, 2010

It will pass,

of course.

I’ve been fiddling around with my anti-depressants as I want to be on a lower dosage by the time I leave for Durham. I have to expect a certain level of crapness in the doing-so, but the extent to which one’s mind can boycott itself and its confidence never fails to astound me. I feel like shit.

But “it” will pass, of course, as everything does, and by the time tomorrow morning rolls around, with its toasted muesli and change of clothes, “things” will be better, not least with the application of sunlight.

It just frustrates me that I can’t get a grip on my head-space. It feels weak to be down.

But now: to bed. I’ll give my over-thinking consciousness a break, and a spot of semiotics courtesy of Terence Hawkes. I doubt I’ll be able to pay attention (I’ve been unable to do anything all evening), but it’s worth a try of course. Of course.

Sartre on Beginnings

March 22, 2010

Now I can see so clearly what I wanted. Real beginnings, appearing like a fanfare of trumpets, like the first notes of a jazz tune, abruptly, cutting boredom short, strengthening duration; evenings among those evenings of which you later say: ‘I was out walking, it was an evening in May.’ You are walking along, the moon has just risen, you feel idle, vacant, a little empty. And then all of a sudden you think: ‘Something has happened.’ It might be anything: a slight crackling sound in the shadows, a fleeting silhouette crossing the street. But this slight event isn’t like the others: straight away you see that it is the predecessor of a great form whose outlines are lost in the mist and you tell yourself too: ‘Something is beginning.’

I study each second, I try to suck it dry; nothing passes which I do not seize, which I do not fix forever within me, nothing, neither the ephemeral tenderness of these lovely eyes, nor the noises in the street, nor the false light of dawn: and yet the minute goes by and I do not hold it back, I am glad to see it pass.

Jean-Paul Sartre,  Nausea, London: Penguin Books, 2000: 63.

Sartre has that same mastery of pace and pause in prose that so excites me about Virginia Woolf: one skips along his lines, recognising, rejoicing (isn’t it wonderful when you read of yourself, of your innermost experience, in another’s lines, especially when they are worded so much more beautfiully than your own recounting can allow?), but almost desperate, breathless, at the fast receding of prose that you should like so much just to hold on to and appreciate in its beauty… I think I’ve read this passage over ten times in the past twenty-four hours. But I can never just bring myself to hover over one sentence: I find myself having to pass through the piece in its entirety, without stopping. And that is perhaps the mastery of the thing: that of this passage, its parts cannot exist but in immediate relation to each other: sever one from its others and the magic is lost.


I do love Sartre’s work.

A Melancholic Interlude

November 30, 2009

So go these days, these funny boundless days I can scarcely arrange numbers for. Sitting in an overheated attic in Salzburg, listening to church bells, I am sad, I suppose, or something like it.

I am in Austria (and was in Hungary); and will be until the 15th of December. I am on hiatus, hence the no-posts.

I’m spending my time thinking too much, talking too little, making and scuttling plans, eating and mourning the passing of pastries, chestnuts, pretzels, and doubting — ah. Always, that.