[..] fleeing at full speed whenever I catch sight of bodies that have any sort of faith in any sort of institution or being; fleeing the feebleminded and atrocious conviviality of our time; building a lesser dependency within a small network of polite expressions,
of harmonies between grammatical tenses and musical instruments,
of small softer regions of the skin,
of certain berries, of certain flowers,
of rooms, of books and of friends,
this is to what my head and body devote the essential part of their reciprocal, always unadjusted, finally almost rhythmic times.
Pascal Quignard, The Hatred of Music, translated by Matthew Amos and Fredrik Rönnbäck
We no doubt became the humans we are from having learned – will we ever know how? – that we were going to die. . . But, by ending up destroying our lives, death constructs them: without the stiff cadaver it leaves behind, without the sex it was long believed to imply or the irreversible time it brings about, would we ever have painted the walls of caves, lit fires, sung within the lacework of language, danced for the gods, observed the stars, demonstrated geometrical theorems, loved our companions, educated children, lastly lived in society?
Michel Serres, Hominescence, translated by Randolph Burks
Thus, my favourite time of the year is those last, lazy days of summer which immediately precede autumn, and my favourite time of the day for walks is when the sun perches for a moment on the horizon before setting, casting yellow copper rays on the gray walls and red copper rays on the window panes. Similarly, the literature my spirit turns to for pleasure is the dying poetry of Rome’s last moments, so long as the verse gives no whiff of the revivifying Barbarian invasion to come, and there’s no hint of the first Christian prose pieces.
Stéphane Mallarmé, Divagations, translated by Barbara Johnson
It seems that literature consists of trying to speak at the moment when speaking becomes most difficult, turning toward those moments when confusion excludes all language and consequently necessities a recourse to a language that is the most precise, the most aware, the furthest removed from vagueness and confusion—to literary language.
—Maurice Blanchot, Kafka and Literature, translated by Charlotte Mandell
“But what is the point of writing if not to unearth things, or even just one thing that cannot be reduced to any kind of psychological or sociological explanation and is not the result of a preconceived idea or demonstration but a narrative: something that emerges from the creases when a story is unfolded and can help us understand — endure — events that occur and the things that we do?”
Annie Ernaux, A Girl’s Story, translated by Alison L. Strayer
This is, so far, the Ernaux that makes the most intense impression, though I will reread The Years again soon. Right before, I read A Man’s Place, affecting, but to a lesser degree perhaps.