‘Whereas Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in human life is precisely what, in his view, we must be silent about.’ – Paul Engelmann, Letters from Ludwig with a Memoir
‘Closed place. All needed to be known for say is known. There is nothing but what is said. Beyond what is said there is nothing.’ Beckett, Watt
‘I wanted to take a snapshot from the book but it feels that it demands such a private form of reading.’ Daniela Cascella, (my italics) ‘I feel like that with most books, this is why I hardly ever blog anymore’ flowerville_ii
‘Making yourself understood is impossible, there’s no such thing as doing that.’ Thomas Bernhard, Three Days (Douglas Robertson’s translation)
‘I cannot help these words as he can: / mute radiance, the empty shining valley. / I cannot keep them clean, they suffocate, / fall stillborn from my mouth. / Prod them for signs of life like poisoned mice.’ Jan Zwicky, Wittgenstein Elegies
For me, in the books that deeply affect me, there is typically a division between what interests me critically and what moves me personally, although the two may overlap. When I started writing critical reviews off my blog, I was taught to limit “I” statements, something I try to employ on and off my own site (though I allow myself more latitude with the latter). I typically read with an eye to what I might explore critically, and keep a separate notebook (or more) for the silent flood. This year I have read more than I have written about—a few things I had nothing to write about, far more I had too much to write about in any general, impersonal way.
As part of the conversation you allude to above with Daniela Cascella and flowerville, which arose around the reading of Ingeborg Bachmann, I was left wondering what I would do with my experience of Malina which I just finished. I started the book earlier this month specifically to coincide with German Literature Month, inspired by Bachmann’s presence in the short stories of her friend Fleur Jaeggy more than anything. However, other writing/editing activities slowed my progress and I spent more than two weeks in its pages. I thought I might just write a few paragraphs and leave it at that, but when I started to work on something I discovered that not only is there something I want to say—the process of returning to the beginning of the book has left me more in awe of its intricate internal structure than ever. So, I suppose that is the value of attempting to channel off even a trickle of that silent flood and give it voice… I don’t know.
The exchange between Daniela and flowerville chimed with my own recent experience of reading; perhaps its ageing or maybe an effect of constantly refining my reading material, but increasingly I find so much of my reading feels private.