J’aime marcher à travers la ville, le soir, dans la chaleur du genièvre. Je marche des nuits durant, je rêve, ou je me parle interminablement. Comme ce soir, oui, et je crains de vous étourdir un peu, merci, vous êtes courtois. Mais c’est le trop-plein ; dès que j’ouvre la bouche, les phrases coulent. Ce pays m’inspire, d’ailleurs. J’aime ce peuple, grouillant sur les trottoirs, coincé dans un petit espace de maisons et d’eaux, cerné par des brumes, des terres froides, et la mer fumante comme une lessive. Je l’aime, car il est double. Il est ici et il est ailleurs. (1)
– Albert Camus, La Chute
Ninth of Av
I swore I would not begin this come-back blog post with “So, I have not written in awhile…” but I am nothing if not unoriginal on an all-nighter. Others’ words are the only ones that come to mind…my desire only to get something out. I could have stayed up reading the novel I bought randomly at Delhi airport’s extra-long layover earlier this week instead. It’s an enjoyable read really.
It is the first fiction I’ve read (read for the first time at least) in quite awhile…an embarrassing admission for an English lit. major. Well, there are the myths, epics, these sorts of things, of course — but a card-catalog can’t define their truthfulness or *not-so-much* really. They are of the half-read, half-heard variety…their pages holding space for where memory and history collide.
Except for one thing: some things are still true. Despite the shelf on which the the book is placed…or who is telling the tale. History and redemption are always bound. And inevitability is an act of sheer will — beautiful in its always-active unraveling.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
– T.S. Eliot, “The Four Quartets”
In each moment, the path gets narrower and more distinct. Everything is less stifling, more urgent, incredibly and altogether open to the “of course” and “what if”…all this, all at once. Tragedy alights hope. Hope reveals truth. And knowing is found in the soft love and familiar comfort of the company you keep, among the ones you must and wish to walk alongside.
And then Seraphina understood something…it was the idea of pilgrimage. She understood why these beings would wait for thousands of years and travel vast distances in order to be close to something important, and how they would feel differently for the rest of time, having been briefly in its presence.
– Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife
(1) Translation: “Oh pardon, madame! But she didn’t understand a word of it anyway. All these people, eh? out so late despite this rain which hasn’t let up for days. Fortunately there is gin, the sole glimmer of light in this darkness. Do you feel the golden, copper-colored light it kindles in you? I like walking through the city of an evening in the warmth of gin. I walk for nights on end, I dream or talk to myself interminably. Yes, like this evening—and I fear making your head swim somewhat. Thank you, you are most courteous. But it’s the overflow; as soon as I open my mouth, sentences start to flow. Besides, this country inspires me. I like these people swarming on the sidewalks, wedged into a little space of houses and canals, hemmed in by fogs, cold lands, and the sea steaming like a wet wash. I like them, for they are double. They are here and elsewhere.”