Valéry’s Cahiers/Notebooks cannot be hurried. His meticulously worded thoughts are often original and unsettling. Every few pages I go to my shelves (or the internet) to track down a reference or to follow an astonishing reflection that cannot be simply read in passing. I read with Pelikan M200 in hand and Moleskine on the desk beside me, scribbling furiously. Though I often annotate my books, these editions resist such behaviour.
This morning’s reading of the Cahiers is over. This following fragment is enough for hours of post-breakfast rumination. (I don’t know if I have characteristic thoughts or if I am anybody all the time.)
Certain ways of looking at things seem to be my hallmark. Sometimes I recognise my own mind. Not all thoughts seem to me to be characteristic or fundamental, but certain ones which, if they were lacking, I’d be different. But there aren’t many of them. So I’m particularly myself at certain times; and anybody the rest of the time. Alongside these characteristic thoughts, we should put the sorrows and intense feelings. Everything else is rustling leaves, vague ‘noises off’, superficiality