The need for love is the central experience of our existence. However foolish it may seem, we feel truly alive only when we have an arrow in our side and that we drag around night and day, everywhere we go. The need for love sweeps away every other need and, on the other hand, motivates all our actions. Read Book 4 of the Aeneid. The construction of Carthage stops when Dido falls in love. . . .
Individuals and cities without love are a danger to themselves and others.
Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia p72
Dimitri tells me his dream. “I’m on a beach, dressed in armor, beautiful metal, but very cumbersome. A powerful voice orders me to go into the water. I am extremely upset, because with this armor, I will certainly drown. At the same time, I cannot avoid the obligation to go into the sea. So I go forward in great anxiety, knowing that the armor will stop me from swimming. I wade into the sea until I’m almost submerged. Just when I feel completely overwhelmed with panic, the armor suddenly opens, and I find I am swimming, free and happy.”
[This is the response to the dream from the psychologist who has been sitting with him in his moments of dying]
Dimitr’s dream tells him of a terror that will give way of its own accord as soon as he agrees to commit himself to the waves. Coming into the palliative care unit could be experienced as entering a sea in which one knows one will drown. And doesn’t the dream also announce a kind of miracle: being freed from the armor, or rather, the social face he has forged for himself like an iron mask? The sea of death transforms itself into the sea of life; the dream says in living his death, he would also experience liberation and happiness.
Marie de Hennezel: How The Dying Teach us to Live, Trans Carol Brown Janeway
How quiet you are, my aunt said.
It was true —
sounds weren’t coming out of my mouth. And yet
they were in my head, expressed, possibly,
as something less exact, thought perhaps,
though at the time they still seemed like sounds to me.
Something was there where there had been nothing.
Or should I say, nothing was there
but it had been defiled by questions —
Louise Gluck, Faithful and Virtuous Night, p 13
When I say (in German) I’m a painter [Malerin] that is not he same as when a man says he is a painter [Maler] . If a man wants to convey the same meaning as me then he would have to say that he was a painting man. When I say I’m a painter then the significance of my statement lies primarily in that I’m describing not what I do but in that I do it as a woman . With the sentence “I’m a painter [Malerin]”, I differentiate myself and am differentiated from men who are painters. My vocabulary confines me to the company of women who are painters and thus my painting, too, is primarily considered with this limited context. Language confines women to segregated spaces, denies them any claim to universality which would put them in relation to all human beings . . . I want to put my painting in a relationship to all painting and that is not just out of personal ambition ..
Gisela Breitling.. (German artist born 1939)
Several weeks ago I discovered a photograph of my mother
sitting in the sun, her face flushed as with achievement or triumph.
The sun was shining. The dogs
were sleeping at her feet where time was also sleeping,
calm and unmoving as in all photographs.
I wiped the dust from my mother’s face.
Indeed dust covered everything; it seemed to me the persistent
haze of nostalgia that protects all relics of childhood.
. . . .
from A Summer Garden , Louise Gluck
People near me don’t know how difficult it is to pretend that nothing
happened, that everything is normal.
Czeslaw Milosz, Notebook,
Every Catholic is raised to be devout and love the Gospels, but I was spoiled by the Old Testament. I was very young when I started reading, and the Old Testament sucked me in. I was at the age of magical thinking and believed sticks could change to serpents, a voice might speak from a burning bush, angels wrestled with people. After I went to school and started catechism I realized that religion was about rules. I remember staring at a neighbor’s bridal-wreath bush. It bloomed every year but was voiceless. No angels, no parting of the Red River. It all seemed so dull once I realized that nothing spectacular was going to happen.
I’ve come to love the traditional Ojibwe ceremonies, and some rituals, but I hate religious rules. They are usually about controlling women. On Sundays when other people go to wood-and-stone churches, I like to take my daughters into the woods. Or at least work in the garden and be outside. Any god we have is out there. I’d hate to be certain that there was nothing. When it comes to God, I cherish doubt.
Louise Erdrich, interview in The Paris Review
Girl reading at airport
Publication on social media is in part a performance, as is everything “social” that human beings do; but what happens when that brightly lit arena expands so much that there is no green room in which the mascara can be removed, no cluttered, imperfect back stage where we can be ‘“ourselves”? What happens to us if we must be “on” all the time? Then we’re in the twenty-four-hour glare of the supervised prison. To live entirely in public is a form of solitary confinement.
Margaret Atwood: When Privacy is Theft, Margaret Atwood reviews The Circle by David Eggers, The New York Review of Books, Nov 21st 2013 (from here)