fiat lux

I remember. They said I wouldn’t but I do. I don’t remember everything, but enough.

Dawn is now breaking—through the window pink sky appears, followed by a spray of golden light. From close overhead a lone crow utters a single drawn-out caw. Silence follows.

The silence only spreads itself so far. I stretch out its thin covering and fold myself inside it.

This is neither a beginning nor an end. I know how I arrived. I can turn and see a faint trail threading back to the fields of my youth. There are burn marks where attempts at erasure have been made.

I wanted to help, in this one way, this very simple way. They said my ‘self-limiting naiveté’ would destroy me. They were wrong. Instead their rigid framework destroyed me.

The air was cold, like it is today. And these stretched and endless limbs were no more suited to it then than now.

What strange form of life it was. How grew the light late in winter daysspreading across fields, streaming out over the river. How the darkness hid our fears.

Holy songs and rituals haloed material desires. Now far offnow beyondnow tinny at the end of this dying line.

Sudden harmonics ring out like hinges from one wall of noise to the next. Awash in reverb, notes soar to the forbidding sky.

I am underneath them. They enter my bones. The fullness of sound enters me, expanding at speed to the point of fracture.

The rending leaves two tottering halves, headless and forlorn. Push one down the hill while the other spins and spins. Rotate or roll away, makes no difference.

Yet still the light remains, ever-present, flashing in our eyes. It illuminates the new but it is the same light, and from the same sources. Even with our backs turned it warms us.

As we return to plaster together the beginning of another day.

 

[Text extracted from several years’ worth of abandoned drafts and reassembled, with minimal edits, to form a new whole]

lydia davis on fragments

To work deliberately in the form of the fragment can be seen as stopping or appearing to stop a work closer, in the process, to what Blanchot would call the origin of writing, the center rather than the sphere. It may be seen as a formal integration, an integration into the form itself, of a question about the process of writing.

It can be seen as a response to the philosophical problem of seeing the written thing replace the subject of the writing. If we catch only a little of our subject, or only badly, clumsily, incoherently, perhaps we have not destroyed it. We have written about it, written it, and allowed it to live on at the same time, allowed it to live on in our ellipses, our silences.

—from her essay ‘Form as Response to Doubt’ in HOW(ever) Vol 4, No. 2 (October 1987)

alain robbe-grillet

Speaking of his autobiography in a 1985 interview with The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Some people like the theory of literature contained in the book above all.

ROBBE-GRILLET

Indeed! Which is the continuation of what is in my novels and my theoretical works. None of these points is indifferent to me, at the same time none really interests me. What does interest me is the weaving of all these different elements in the book; the way they mix in movement, constantly shifting and changing, as if they were fragments of me. When I think of myself, I feel that I am made up of fragments in which there are childhood memories, fictional characters I particularly care about—such as Henri de Corinth—and even characters who belong to literature and with whom I feel I have family ties. Stavrogin of The Possessed and Madame Bovary are related to me exactly as my grandfather is, or my aunt. So it is the way all these figures move and refuse to be fixed that excites me. Well, at least that is what I say today. Another day I might say something different!

[…]

I am certain that a novelist is someone who attributes a different reality-value to the characters and events of his story than to those of “real” life. A novelist is someone who confuses his own life with that of his characters.

fragment 21

see how the living tend the dead
on a wedge of grass sewn between
the quarry and the chemical plant.

the quarry detonates explosives
once per day, a violent event
often not unlike an earthquake.
the plant contains enough
toxic materials (296,000 lbs)
that it must tell the feds
how many people an explosion
would affect. is it just me or…

as if they know, vultures gather
though of course there is nothing
here for them at this dull moment.
the dead are buried and the living
yet tend them. while in the grass
crouch downy killdeer young
whose alarms sound at my approach.

busy with its own survival
a great crested flycatcher
hawks insects on the edge
of this green death field.
and the gravel path yields
a skittering cicada as it
unwinds the last coils
of its own brief life.

fragment 19

small things changed, tiny even,
we marvel at how they alter us.
while enormous things ever looming
leave us to cower in a corner.

tuning the orchestra of change
is a task designed for certain
of us who thrive on constant flux.
is flux necessary for vitality…
i do not know the answer to this.

one change i like is seasonal change
but nature makes that change itself
i. am. not. involved. at. all.
it is change swirling around me
dipping inside me to the dark river
along which we all share a shoreline.

protracted change is excruciating.
please just get it over with!
don’t drag us over these hot coals
any longer than is needed.

but perhaps the worst is craving
change but feeling unable or unwilling
to rise above the fear to effect it.
this change paralysis grips us tight
as we suffer for want of its release.

(sometimes i stare forlorn
at a thing i want changed
for days, weeks, months.
change, change, change, do it!
please don’t make me be the one.)

and i wonder how it would feel
to suddenly change everything
all at once, an eruption of change!
exploding habits, shattering routines,
would we all just crack down the middle
or would everything suddenly become clear.

fragment 18

confabulate as a way to genuflect,
the past only what it may have been,
a shimmer in dry corners of our eyes.

or remember as a way to draw maps
the passed only what just went by
a glimmer of our truths, not lies.

(in between i can’t help thinking
what if i were smaller, or larger
what if i were colossus of rhodes
looming over a very narrow spot.)

but don’t bother trying to explain
these things that don’t make sense.
read them quiet to yourself and laugh,
like the entire world missed the joke.

besides, there is relief in knowing
most everything except your own story
has been shouted out into the world
and now it is the how you tell it
that can light up the night skies.

(and if i could write this backwards
i would. and if i could write myself
to the top of an oak tree i would.
but there are some days when i can
barely write myself out the door.)

robert walser wrote “you have a future
only when you have no present,
and when you have a present,
you forget to even think about the future.”
(his preference: the latter)

reminded of walser’s words today,
i wondered what we eagerly expect
from all this panicky planning
shoved down our throats as the present
folds under into fodder for futures
perhaps better left forgotten,
dissolved in a day’s dreamy details.

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