A blonde girl is bent over a poem. With a pencil sharp as a lancet she transfers the words to a blank page and changes them into strokes, accents, caesuras. The lament of a fallen poet now looks like a salamander eaten away by ants. When we carried him away under machine-gun fire, I believed that his still warm body would be resurrected in the word. Now as I watch the death of the words, I know there is no limit to decay. All that will be left after us in the black earth will be scattered syllables. Accents over nothingness and dust.
Zbigniew Herbert, “Episode in a Library,” trans. Czeslaw Milosz
Quote with 22 notes
Why does corporeal waste, menstrual blood and excrement, or everything that is assimilated to them, from nail-clippings to decay, represent — like a metaphor that would have become incarnate — the objective frailty of symbolic order?
Here is a handful
of shadow I have brought back to you:
this decay, this hope, this mouth-
ful of dirt, this poetry.
The game of man and of his own rotting is perpetuated in the most dismal of conditions without the one having the courage to confront the other. It seems that we will never find ourselves faced with the grandiose image of decomposition whose risk, which intervenes at every breath, is nonetheless the very meaning of a life that we prefer, we know not why, to the life of another whose breath may survive us. We know only the negative form of this image - soaps, toothbrushes and all the pharmaceutical products we accumulate in order to escape daily, with difficulty, from filth and death. Each day we make ourselves into the docile servants of these petty fabrications, the sole gods of modern man. This servitude continues in all places where a normal being might still go. We go to an art dealer like we’d go to a pharmacist, seeking well-displayed remedies for respectable illnesses.
Quote with 18 notes
A wound with blood & pus, or the sickly, acrid smell of sweat, of decay, does not signify death. In the presence of signified death—a flat encephalograph for instance—I would understand, react, or accept. No, as in true theater, without make-up or masks, refuse & corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live. These body fluids, this defilement, this shit are what life withstands, hardly & with difficulty, on the part of death.
Photo with 6 notes
Abandoned Playgrounds: Holiday Island: abandonedplaces
Something about the fragility of these old rocking horses seems to me to be inscribed with a sweet sad kind of entropy. The decay of these things are only a part of it; there’s a formidability to their mottled, rusted, tarnished process of ageing - not complete, but a process - that calls to mind the proverbial haunted mansion whose very frisson lies in its unobtainability, its uncanny slippage between the known and the unknown, and in vintage garb whose spots and pocks and smells of someone else’s lived-in-ness invoke fascination not just in breathing in another’s history, but because that which lies between your skin and its musty gaberdine is atemporal, unsustainable, known in fragments and threads.