Beginnings, Endings, All the Stuff in Between

Image: caterpillar on grape vine, stock photo via pexels.com

[Image: Stock photo from Pixabay/pexels.com, used here under a Creative Commons license. (Thanks!)]

From whiskey river:

A very sweet light is spreading over the Earth like a perfume. The moon is slowly dissolving and a boy-sun languidly stretches his translucent arms… Cool murmurings of pure waters that surrender themselves to the hillsides. A pair of wings dances in the rosy atmosphere. Silence, my friends. The day is about to begin.

(Clarice Lispector [source])

and:

Broom

To remember you’re alive
visit the cemetery of your father
at noon after you’ve made love
and are still wrapped in a mammalian
odor that you are forced to cherish.
Under each stone is someone’s inevitable
surprise, the unexpected death
of their biology that struggled hard, as it must.
Now to home without looking back,
enough is enough.
En route buy the best wine
you can afford and a dozen stiff brooms.
Have a few swallows then throw the furniture
out the window and begin sweeping.
Sweep until the walls are
bare of paint and at your feet sweep
until the floor disappears. Finish the wine
in this field of air, return to the cemetery
in evening and wind through the stones
a slow dance of your name visible only to birds.

(Jim Harrison [source])

and (italicized stanzas):

Year’s End

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.

(Richard Wilbur [source])

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This Matter of Not-Knowing

'The Sea Has No Need of Us,' by August Brill on Flickr

[Image: “The Sea Has No Need of Us,” by August Brill on Flickr. (Used here under a Creative Commons license.) The photograph’s description there consists entirely of a quotation from Russian filmmaker Aleksandr Sokurov: “Its beauty is not for us. It’s a beauty that has nothing to do with us… The sea doesn’t know we exist, and besides, would it perhaps really like to know this?” (I haven’t located a specific source for this quotation — may be a loose translation.)]

From whiskey river:

There is a certain kind of fascination, a strictly artistic fascination, which arises from a matter being hinted at in such a way as to leave a certain tormenting uncertainty even at the end. It is well sometimes to half understand a poem in the same manner that we half understand the world. One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.

(G. K. Chesterton [source])

and:

The range of what we think and do
is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice
that we fail to notice
there is little we can do
to change;
until we notice
how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds.

(Daniel Goleman [source]*)

and:

“At this moment” is a rare thing because only sometimes do I step with both feet on the land of the present: usually one foot slides toward the past, the other slides toward the future. And I end up with nothing.

(Clarice Lispector [source])

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The Other in the Mirror, through the Glass, on the Page

[Video: Photorealist artist Melissa Cooke serves as her own model for a “drawing” of a sneering but otherwise Chaplinesque character. As I understand this light-hearted “making-of” demonstration, she’s excerpting bits and pieces of her various poses, costumes, facial expressions, and such, and amalgamating them into a single image.]

From whiskey river:

Everything that gives the illusion of permanence, familiarity, and intimate knowledge: isn’t it a deception invented to reassure, with which we try to conceal and ward off the flickering, disturbing haste because it could be impossible to live with all the time. Isn’t every exchange of looks between people like the ghostly brief meeting of eyes between travelers passing one another, intoxicated by the inhuman speed and the shock of air pressure that makes everything shudder and clatter? Don’t our looks bounce off others, as in the hasty encounter of the night, and leave us with nothing but conjectures, slivers of thoughts and imagined qualities? Isn’t it true that it’s not people who meet, but rather the shadows cast by their imaginations?

(Pascal Mercier)

…and:

Should we be grateful for the protection that guards us from the strangeness of one another? And for the freedom it makes possible? How would it be if we confronted each other unprotected by the double refraction represented by the interpreted body? If, because nothing separating and adulterating stood between us, we tumbled into each other?

(Pascal Mercier [source: ibid])

and:

When I surprise myself in the depths of the mirror I get a fright. I can hardly believe that I have limits, that I am cut out and defined. I feel scattered in the air, thinking inside other beings, living in things beyond myself. When I surprise myself at the mirror I am not frightened because I think I am ugly or beautiful. It is because I discover I am of a different nature. After not having seen myself for a while I almost forget I am human, I forget my past and I am as free from end and awareness as something merely alive. I am also surprised, eyes open at the pale mirror, that there are so many things in me besides what I know, so many things always silent.

(Clarice Lispector [source])

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