Posts tagged quote
“ He showed me his kabbalistic collection, and I admired the manuscripts. In my enthusiasm I said, quite naively: ‘How wonderful, Herr Professor, that you have studied all this!’ Whereupon the old gentleman replied: ‘What, am I supposed to *read* this rubbish, too?’ That was a great moment in my life.”
“A revolution to emancipate the individual must necessarily regard tradition, the control of the present by the past, as its enemy; if the human individual is to be really free, then time must also be individualized into a succession of immediate moments. The kind of society, therefore, which it tends to create, is an atomized society of individuals, with neither a common myth nor a common cult, but united moment by moment by what they are reading.”—W. H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson, 1950, introduction to The Portable Romantic Poets
I love that the “career” section for Norman Holmes Pearson on wikipedia seems to have been back-translated into English.
Q: Do you see your work as fitting into the traditions of European fiction—or indeed any national or regional tradition?
A: There are many traditions of European fiction and I think my work has been influenced by some of them: above all a Central-European tradition of the oneiric grotesque (Kafka, Kubin); a tradition of French surrealism (Breton, Mandiargues, Gracq), pre-surrealism (Lautréamont, Jarry, Roussel) and para-surrealism (Michaux); a tradition of “phenomenological” fiction (Proust, Rilke, Larbaud); and also a tradition of generic adventure (Verne) and detective stories (Conan-Doyle, Souvestre & Allain)…
“ Masterpieces, not always distinguished or distinguishable among all the works with pretensions to genius, are scattered about the world like warning notices in a mine field. And it’s only by good luck that we’re not blown up! But that good luck generates a disbelief in the danger and allows the growth of fatuous pseudo-optimism. When that sort of optimistic world view is the order of the day, art becomes an irritant, like the medieval charlatan or alchemist. It seems dangerous because it is disturbing…”
“Treacherous and poisonous, the plague of dusk spread, passed from one object to another, and everything it touched became black and rotten and scattered into dust. People fled before it in silent panic, but the disease always caught up with them and spread in a dark rash on their foreheads. Their faces disappeared under large, shapeless spots. They continued on their way, now featureless, without eyes, shedding as they walked one mask after another, so that the dusk became filled with the discarded larvae dropped in their flight. Then a black, rotting bark began to cover everything in large putrid scabs of darkness. And while down below everything disintegrated and changed into nothingness in that silent panic of quick dissolution, above there grew and endured the alarum of sunset, vibrating with the tinkling of a million tiny bells set in motion by the rise of a million unseen larks flying together into the enormous silvery infinite.”
—No one reads Bruno Schulz (“The Night of the Great Season”, The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories, tr. Celina Wieniewska, Penguin, 2008, p 86).