Paris Readings

A fair amount (more than usual) of jetlag, plus the nigthclub that spews out 200+ singing and screaming drunks between 4 and 5 a.m. a bit further up on my street, have allowed (or forced) a fair amount of 3 to 6 a.m. reading these last ten days. Here’s a bit of it:

Carnet de Nuit by Philippe Sollers, an aptly named (see above) small compilation of PS’s night jottings. My favorite is the follwing one:

Il n’y a ni crise, ni défaite de la pensée, ni apocalypse des valeurs, il n’y a que la paresse: oubli de se lever tôt, de noter sa mort.

There is neither crisis, nor defeat of thought, nor apocalypse of values, there is only lazyness: forgetting to get up early, to note one’s death. (page 69)

Forbidden Territory and Realms of Strife, by Juan Goytisolo, translated by Peter Bush. A compilation of two distinct but linked autobiographical narratives by the greatest of contemporary Spanish writers, who in his early thirties quit a very successful career as public intellectual in Paris (writing engaged novels and political commentary for the major French left-wing magazines) to move to Morocco and write those major pieces of fiction that start with Count Julian :

From a certain age, one learns to strip oneself of all that is secondary or incidental in order to bind oneself to the areas of experience which apportion greater pleasure and emotion: writing, sex, and love will henceforth be the deepest and most authentic configurations of your territory: all else is a pure substitute that an elemental principle of purely selfish economy advises you to do without and which you will do without entirely: as you will see from your own example, whoever aspires to become a public figure sacrifices his most intimate truth to an image, an external profile: literary favor is a chance and subtle matter and it usually takes vengeance on those who rush in search of recognition by distancing itself and then abandoning them: from your publishing watchtower you will witness over the years numerous examples of literary and moral erosion: that process of self-advertisement by the writer who, because of unfaithfulness to the most genuine sources of being, finally loses, unawares, his pristine state of grace.

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1 Response

  1. daniel says:

    his pristine state of grace…orhan palmuk describes seclusion and privacy as the qualities which define writership…is this a classical conception now displaced by the conversational….

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