Homage to Philippe Sollers &/in his Paradis
Philippe Sollers died earlier this month at 86. I was just now able to retrieve my translation of extracts from Paradis II (1986, Gallimard), his most experimental book, extracts first published in 1987 in Paris Exiles 3/4, & in The Literary Review, N.J., 1987.
From Paradise II
… OH YES ONE SIM PLY HAS TO wind up preferring time to oneself desiring time for itself wanting it in a blow in a single blow in a deep breath outside everything abandoning oneself repeating oneself even vomiting oneself like an obstacle to the lesson of time which knows everything which ends up revealing everything in the tiniest folds of the problem one needs but a little time much time an eternity of time swallowed in time to put oneself at the heart of baptism there where you have been saved to exist bought back secondhand in the market my god how deeply troubling that pinch of salt catching the bird in one’s dreams that drop dissolves you like a bad dream that powder that oil to break the bedeviled chains nerves tendons liver lungs intestines skeleton eve’s oppressive brain a perorating softness adapted from adam pommading apple a pippin apple and lady-apple carpet redcarpet pippin apple and lady-apple carpet grey carpet in short one ti.as to burn oneself as one has been kilned one has to liquify as one has been petrified one has to slip away as one has been knotted on the boards the more sailor one is the better one beats the brazen law of reproduction and that’s no doubt why the main character you know the one meant preferred fisherman their nets their boats their fears meetings with grilled fish on the beaches the sign of Jonas and there is more here than jonas what do you want a seafaring jew that’s an event cuts to the bone it’s normal in a way that time should have made a calendar therein to pray to drag all that from the depths of durations all that walking suppled on the waters separating the waters and the waters the visible and the invisible ones the sayable and the impassive ones like a book finally open white on white with nothing written not the least bit of text as basis just four reflectors of the narration to mark the absence of writing not a written text thus but a body written counter-written true body of true body here affirmed here only bread and blood new eternal covenant since the obscure arch and the bit of yell circumcised in such a way that there remain but one body and one blood and one single word giving the word and that all be lit up without background without remainder of depth up from and that all be assembled in a single springing forth of invocations of supplications of glorifications laudations and that thus the loud and painful horrible and terrible human history be immersed in an underground lightness in superhuman nullity since it also enjoys and laughs without reason through innocence by respiration stays immobile my little one believe me stay immobile for a long time and you’ll see and you’ll hear and you’ll know everything down here on earth as 1f you were in your bier over there under the flagstones a reserved space next to the left pillar where they play the organ for you gloria has pocketed your deposit no matter whose fingers prelude and fugue again knowledgeable preludes and their fugues that’s all you have to say yes every morning every evening every sunday and feast day and good evening gloria in exelsis deo winter and summer rain wind sleet snow or sun heat sweat flowers in bunches we praise you we bless you we thank you for your immense glory and the immensity of our sin pardoned and so on again and so on a tight poetry outside the and so ons since the muse assembles gold with white ivory and the fleur de lys it has stolen from the neemian marine dew pindarus dixit the marine dew that is to say the red coral thus yellow white red the first goodness is the water first olympic over there over there over beyond the proud golden light of yesteryear oh the greeks tell where have the greeks disappeared to again the greeks captured by the pseudo-greek germans liberate me those greeks once again to plunge into their nimble upstroked alphabet where each letter looks like a loop amidst the onboard cordage hand it to me fast in the listening in the hatchways on the foaming winy sea in our
odyssean rollings you should speak of the greeks only aboard ship once the gear’s been tightened exclusively with the one who has given proof of his utility for steering in a head wind held astern wind thrown body weather-lurch to thwart the slapped and thus the ship runs without jolts and without risks and the sparrow-hawk the fastest bird couldn’t follow it lie down now laurie tells me luminous sixteen blond hair blue eyes athena’s mocking face she’s my sister my niece my daughter my granddaughter we have fun like that all summer in the burning hollow of july she is clear lucid she is intrepid she takes me to sleep on the high seas she kisses my tired forehead her tongue of salt licks my cheek my neck bravely she searches for my mouth my lips 1t’s her holiday adventure it’s her secret for later on her chance she has read that the gods married among themselves brother and sister and why not father and daughter uncle and niece great uncle grand niece and why not right away in the movement I have described far from the shores far from the laws that apply on shore I say neither yes nor no I let her breathe salivate disarm the boat jump in swim come back to me naked wet roll all over me lick me all that is done to be forgotten no traces smoke that does not last vibration wake drowned tell me that we are gods she says isn’t it so we are gods as you see and she laughs changes the subject comes back to the small things of her daily life her studies we eat lemons I correct her spinoza on deck faced with human actions I have tried carefully to understand them to shrug them off to detest them but never to complain about them do you think I can say that to the teacher says laurie of course I say but without telling him it comes from me he’ll know it she says you cause us enough trouble with your porn novels and again she bites me tender1y kisses my eves takes me fully in her arms oh old age blessed and friendly oh wages of a youth that never gave up on its life fortune I have gone beyond you I barred your doors we will not beat a retreat not from you nor from any other circumstances and when fate evicts us we’ll spit on existence and on those stuck in it and then we’ll magnificently sing our past life great says laurie who said that epicure vatican maxims oh yes says laurie vatican why vatican and so on idle chatter on manet blue water do you know where those two return from with their hats a man and a woman from what walk from what passionate stroll do you know where that young man will go with that golden boater to lunch in the studio with his weapons from the taking of ilion to his left you really know what the olympia says the asparagus music at the tuileries masked ball at the opera or chick manet’s indifference is the supreme indifference the one that is effortlessly slashing the one that while scandalizing didn’t even care to know it carried scandal within itself thus the subtlety of a game should represent nothing but the game itself at the peak of subtlety what today is sacred cannot be proclaimed what is sacred henceforth is mute this world knows only an interior silent negative transfiguration it is possible for me to talk about it but it means talking about a definitive silence and that’s fine the way we come home after nightfall laurie and I more closed up than the cats that reign over the antique and invisible palace of silence and here is how I’m still twenty years old for the time of crossing through a gala but no right now it’s still easter as if it were a1ways the same easter sunday bright and cold 10 april 1300 for example why 10 april 1300 says laurie leaning over my shoulder at the end of the afternoon towards 7 pm what you don’t know but it’s the beginning of purgatory of course but what purgatory the one of the comedia of course oh you always with the dante bit aren’t we okay in 1986 or 88 or 90 or 2086 who cares no and always nibbling at my ear my neck to keep me from writing right here to get us to start kissing on the ye1low sofa at the other end of the room already dark getting darker and darker let me be laurie I say maybe after dinner no you’ve worked enough already come I want to taste you a bit to smell you I love you but are you aware of what you’re doing I say hypocritical joker she says who writes things that excite and then hesitates to get into it for real I decide the twenty-first century she says and all the the other centuries also and you’ll be dead no doubt when I’ll be your age you adorable old cunt of my cunt not certain I say in thirty years I may still be a famous glassy majestic senile fearsome old man and you a plain disabused used old crone for which she pulls my hair kneels down goes after the subject itself while i continue to trace what follows truly what follows suppose my name is petrarch now I say okay for petrarch says laurie you don’t scare me you can be who you want when you want poetry that’s me if you want if I want l am your muse if it keeps me amused alright I say let’s continue but before all not a word about it they are so jealous they’ll believe that I’m faking it you make me shiver quiver hugo no darling not hugo please and why not hugo says laurie it so happens they’re just now celebrating the centenary of his beard it all seems suspect to me I want to go straight to the source of creation to the critique of sources I’m fed up with conventions celebrations little demon I say it’s a crime most certainly says she take note that my hand does not tremble that in spite of all I continue set-square and compass that these were lines don’t jump don’t get fuzzy and as to punctuation if if you are so punctiliously worried to the dot truly to the dot put .it m yourselves death is a category of being and not of nothingness and as being itself is but a fugitive dimension of the infinite which identifies itself at each moment with nothingness one has to say that it is nothingness which rejoices in each being while death is that which happens naturally to being outside of its point of infinite rejoicing you understand I say to laurie if I get there while deeply looking into your eyes and while knowing that you feel nothing that you are truly on the other side into which however I enter if despite all I manage to come while seeing your indifference your coldness while I am in you despite of you if I manage to throw that smack in your face just as you throw it back at me well then we’ll have seen everything known everything you really are weird she says you don’t believe that love is a matter of fusion of communion and I love yes maybe but not the actual act in itself to contrary it sanctions the disunion the separation the non-communication strange idea says laurie truly inhuman come I say come my angel come don’t be afraid here enter my paradise done as soon as said the posture undoes itself we pass into the bathroom the sun still shines through the curtains yellow streaks on the floorboards heat of the wood underfoot to look out to sea to see if the tide is coming in if the blue bar is visible on the horizon deep down no no not yet laurie wants to sleep a little I leave her go outside it is summer now blue and white summer with butterflies everywhere on the grass under the trees and the roses are there and the daisies are there too and everything is there and right there busy passing from noon to shadow and again from night to the tremble of morning keeping its velvet taste of evenings spent in wine it is summer it is high summer in the present perfect and there is nothing else to be asked but that verification of the body by summer each time in depth under the skin the muscles the dreams one more time on the sand right in the sand-glass laurie goes to buy the newspapers in the village and the newspapers will end up in the sand as if they had never existed and one of them will perhaps tell in ten lines of the publication of paradise II you know that thing without punctuation thousands of dense black grains unreadable absolutely unreadable one has never seen anything like it on a bestseller list isn’t that so no and I’d rather tell you that given that it’s not on it it doesn’t have any weight all the more so that the true amateurs those who are versed in hermeticism poetry esotericism and other limited high quality editions absolutely loathe it and therefore right it’s nothing truly nothing the television stays lit in a corner you can go over to it tell it it’s nothing just listen to this the sun goes down and the shadow comes we stretch out along the moorings then when in the morning rosy-fingered dawn appears we take to sea the preserver sends a favorable breeze so we set the mast unfurl the white sail the wind fills the cloth and while around the moving stem-post the billows boil and whistle noisily the ship is on its way skimming along the water you see anything goes it’s all filler rosy-fingered dawn the ship the billows noisily whistling we’ve gone out to sea laurie’s throat aches we come back she is sad here’s the storm and the rain with lightning flashes tearing exploding all over the night and everything changes once more perfect calm sphere brilliance transparency high up the stars two in morning I make the sign of the cross while crossing the rosebushes in the garden naked sole of the feet before all no noise slight breath held back in oneself the sign of the cross yes like that in the black air crowning it all as 1t disappears it 1s sign that remains there suspended now here petals no doubt mouth open open signature sun heart point heart no point skulled under the cross and there everything turns over all of a sudden again day breaks at last at its point ocean lungs key oboe the blue returns it returns the blue unbelievable it is there mist in the red m grey yellow in low vox tubae vox suavi vox brilliant small mutant words in the ladder and she is there once again upright my ladder so light and sad and so firm and very joyous and alive and so firm veni sancte spiritus tempus perfectum tactus heaven and earth full of the energy and joy of yesteryear …