“Unfortunately I am afraid, as always, of going on. For 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
Drumbsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
“I know you’re tired,
but come. This is the way.”
I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?
Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.
Why, still ’tis Being looking from the dark,
The core, the centre of your consciousness,
That notes your bubble-world: sense, pleasure, pain,
What are they but a shifting otherness,
Phantasmal flux of moments?
–George Eliot, excerpted from “I Grant You Ample Leave”
“Perhaps that’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, on the one side the outside, on the other the inside, that can be as thin as foil, I’m neither one side nor the other, I’m in the middle, I’m the partition, I’ve two surfaces and no thickness, perhaps that’s what I feel, myself vibrating, I’m the tympanum, on the one hand the mind, on the other the world, I don’t belong to either.”
— Samuel Beckett, The Unnamables
“Take the matter as you find it: ask no questions; utter no remonstrances; it is your best wisdom. You expected bread and you have got a stone: break your teeth on it, and don’t shriek because the nerves are martyrised; do not doubt that your mental stomach – if you have such a thing – is strong as an ostrich’s; the stone will digest. You held out your hand for an egg, and fate put into it a scorpion. Show no consternation; close your fingers firmly upon the gift; let it sting through your palm. Never mind; in time, after your hand and arm have swelled and quivered long with torture, the squeezed scorpion will die, and you will have learned the great lesson how to endure without a sob.”
— Charlotte Brontë
Marc Chagall. Lovers over Sant-Paul. 1970-71. Oil on canvas. 145 x 130. Private collection
“Ravished! How ravished one could be without ever being touched. Ravished by dead words become obscene, and dead ideas become obsessions.”
“The life within life, the sheer warm, potent loveliness….. What a mystery!”
— D.H. Lawrence