I suffer from life and from other people. I can’t look at reality face to face. Even the sun discourages and depresses me. Only at night and all alone, withdrawn, forgotten and lost, with no connection to anything real or useful — only then do I find myself and feel comforted.
If after I die, people want to write my biography, there is nothing simpler. They only need two dates: the date of my birth and the date of my death. Between one and another, every day is mine.
Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally.
Sit still with me in the shade of these green trees, which have no weightier thought than the withering of their leaves when autumn arrives, or the stretching of their many stiff fingers into the cold sky of the passing winter. Sit still with me and meditate on how useless effort is, how alien the will, and on how our very meditation is no more useful than effort, and no more our own than the will. Meditate too on how a life that wants nothing can have no weight in the flux of things, but a life the wants everything can likewise have no weight in the flux of things, since it cannot obtain everything, and to obtain less than everything is not worthy of souls that seek the truth.
A tree's shade is worth more than the knowledge of truth, my sons, for a tree's shade is true while it lasts, and the knowledge of truth is false in its very truth. The leaves' greenness is worth more, for a right understanding, than a great thought, for the leaves, greenness is something you can show others, but you can never show them a great thought. We are born without knowing how to talk and we die without having known how to express ourselves. Our life runs its course between the silence of one who cannot speak and the silence of one who wasn't understood, and around it hovers — like a bee where there are no flowers — a useless, inscrutable destiny.
Giving importance to what we think because we thought it, taking our own selves not only (to quote the Greek philosopher) as the measure of all things but as their norm or standard, we create in ourselves, if not an interpretation, at least a criticism of the universe, which we don't even know and therefore cannot criticize. The giddiest, most weak-minded of us then promote that criticism to an interpretation that's superimposed, like a hallucination; induced rather than deduced. It's a hallucination in the strict sense, being an illusion based on something only dimly seen.
To be great, be whole;Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.Be whole in everything. Put all you areInto the smallest thing you do.So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendorBecause it blooms up above.
To have opinions is to sell out to yourself. To have no opinion is to exist. To have every opinion is to be a poet.
The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.
Lord, may the pain be ours, And the weakness that it brings, But at least give us the strength, Of not showing it to anyone!
We, all who live, haveA life that is livedAnd another life that is thought,And the only life we haveIt's the one that is dividedIn right or wrong.
Again I see you, But me I don't see!, The magical mirror in which I saw myself has been broken, And only a piece of me I see in each fatal fragment - Only a piece of you and me!...
Ah, the freshness in the face of leaving a task undone!To be remiss is to be positively out in the country!What a refuge it is to be completely unreliable!I can breathe easier now that the appointments are behind me.I missed them all, through deliberate negligence,Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.I’m free, and against organized, clothed society.I’m naked and plunge into the water of my imagination.It’s too late to be at either of the two meetings where I should have been at the same time,Deliberately at the same time...No matter, I’ll stay here dreaming verses and smiling in italics.This spectator aspect of life is so amusing!I can’t even light the next cigarette... If it’s an action,It can wait for me, along with the others, in the nonmeeting called life.
I never paid any attention to people who told me to go out and live. I belonged always to whatever was far from me and to whatever I could never be. Anything that was not mine, however base, always seemed to me to be full of poetry. The only thing I ever loved was pure nothingness.
Ah! The anguish, the vile rage, the despairOf not being able to expressWith a shout, an extreme and bitter shout,The bleeding of my heart.
I'm astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed. My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning. But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will's surrender. I begin because I don't have the strength to think, I finish because I don't have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice.
In the ordinary jumble of my literary drawer, I sometimes find texts I wrote ten, fifteen, or even more years ago. And many of them seem to me written by a stranger: I simply do not recognize myself in them. There was a person who wrote them, and it was I. I experienced them, but it was in another life, from which I just woke up, as if from someone else's dream.
To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming — like worms when a rock is lifted — under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky.
Everything stated or expressed by man is a note in the margin of a completely erased text. From what's in the note we can extract the gist of what must have been in the text, but there's always a doubt, and the possible meanings are many.
There are metaphors more real than the people who walk in the street. There are images tucked away in books that live more vividly than many men and women. There are phrases from literary works that have a positively human personality. There are passages from my own writing that chill me with fright, so distinctly do I feel them as people, so sharply outlined do they appear against the walls of my room, at night, in shadows... I've written sentences whose sound, read out loud or silently (impossible to hide their sound), can only be of something that acquired absolute exteriority and a full-fledged soul.
Is it that my habit of placing myself in the souls of other people makes me see myself as others see or would see me if they noticed my presence there? It is. And once I've perceived what they would feel about me if they knew me, it is as if they were feeling and expressing it at that very moment. It is a torture to me to live with other people. Then there are those who live inside me. Even when removed from life, I'm forced to live with them. Alone, I am hemmed in by multitudes. I have nowhere to flee to, unless I were to flee myself.
I am nothing.I'll never be anything.I couldn't want to be something.Apart from that, I have in me all the dreams in the world.
I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake. In dreams I have achieved everything.
In this metallic age of barbarians, only a relentless cultivation of our ability to dream, to analyse and to captivate can prevent our personality from degenerating into nothing or else into a personality like all the rest.
The only thing I’ve loved is nothing at all. The only thing I’ve desired is what I couldn’t even imagine. All I asked of life is that it go on by without my feeling it. All I demanded of love is that it never stop being a distant dream.
My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while. […]. I'm two, and both keep their distance — Siamese twins that aren't attached.
My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.
My soul is a black maelstrom, a great madness spinning about a vacuum, the swirling of a vast ocean around a hole in the void, and in the waters, more like whirlwinds than waters, float images of all I ever saw or heard in the world: houses, faces, books, boxes, snatches of music and fragments of voices, all caught up in a sinister, bottomless whirlpool.
To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarates, the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning in into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat— some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself. This isn't the case with literature. Literature simulates life. A novel is a story of what never was, a play is a novel without narration. A poem is the expression of ideas or feelings a language no one uses, because no one talks in verse.
I feel closer ties and more intimate bonds with certain characters in books, with certain images I’ve seen in engravings, than with many supposedly real people with the metaphysical absurdity known as ‘flesh and blood’. In fact, ‘flesh and blood’ describes them very well: they resemble cuts of meat laid out on the butcher’s marble slab, dead creatures bleeding as though still alive.