Dickinson’s ‘Enigmatic Presence’ (Maria Gabriela Llansol)

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‘I can only sense that Emily Dickinson has just arrived, without being an intruder (. . .). I turned to Emily Dickinson, then — to speak is not inevitable; she worked without talking, and, by the end of the day, they had almost forgotten she existed; there could only be seen, rootless, the result of her work.’

Maria Gabriela Llansol, from Um Falcão no Punho, (1985)

‘Llansol also links Emily Dickinson to the Brontë sisters: the American poet appears in her room after Anne, Emily and Charlotte have sent her an invitation letter to confirm their common interest in menageries.’

From The International Reception of Emily Dickinson, (2009)

‘It is no wonder that you are there, half-naked, leaning over what I write. You make a triangle with your legs, you stand on your foot, but not as a ballerina. (. . .) But if you lay down a foot on my breast and raise your arms, letting your hair fall down, I think it is a writing foot split into fingers, searching for my emotion. Provoking me. In the end, I bit it. This is my retribution as a living writer.’

Maria Gabriela Llansol, from Onde Vais, Drama-Poesia, (2000)

Eternity Has No Moments

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‘(Surely a person is able to sample the experience of eternity without having to read fiction? I found just now a passage that I copied more than thirty years ago from the translated writings of Alfred Jarry: “It is fine to live two different moments of time as one: that alone allows one authentically to live a single moment of eternity, indeed all eternity since it has no moments.”)

From Gerald Murnane’s A Million Windows, p. 17

Not to Write

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‘Not to write. That’s the formula. Stand up right now, wash my hands of it and flee. Why do I say flee? Simply go away. I have to be simple. I should go away; then I won’t have to explain anything. I should put down a period and end here.’

‘I don’t want to write for myself. You say that, but deep down you’ve got a need to be read, to go beyond yourself; there is a desire for grandeur, for conquest.’

‘All that’s left is the tormented need to write something, and I don’t know what it is.’

‘Sometimes, the “self” who does what I don’t want to do is, in reality, the one whom I love because he releases me from that stubborn, hermitic no that I am bound to.’

From The Empty Book by Josefina Vicens (translated by David Lauer)

[What begins as an exercise of meta-fiction about a writer struggling to write anything worthwhile develops—this is provisional as I’ve yet to finish a first reading of the novel—into an enquiry into the nature of writing, fiction and why we read fiction (or why we read at all).]

Art Invented Humanity

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‘In the end, art may not have been our invention at all. It may well have appeared in history as it does in the life of many individual artists: as an outside call, a sudden flash of inspiration, an inner wanderlust exerting such a powerful pull that ultimately we would have to say that Picasso got it wrong: the early humans did not invent art. Art invented humanity.’

From J.F. Martel’s Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice

The Embrace of a Poet

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“Four months earlier to the day, on August 14, I had had the unforeseen good luck to meet Pascoaes in Oporto, for the first time and also the last. The impression of his emaciated, at times twitching, but always kind old face is fading away. The lively eyes and the humorous corners of the wide, thin-lipped mouth were strikingly framed, though, by the severe dark hat and suit which plain people wear in Southern countries. I may forget the fireworks of his conversation, with which he easily kept the younger men hanging at his lips. (In those days a Pascoaes cult existed in Portugal; perhaps it still does.) But his embrace I am still able to feel, the most Portuguese of all Portuguese embraces I have been accorded. When we took leave from him, my friend and I, to return to the city, he singled me, the stranger, out and hugged me with a particular warmth and fondness. Did he want to enthral me forever, by putting into that farewell gesture all the human solidarity of a Portuguese? It was the gesture of one who was clinging to life with his last strength. Perhaps it was magic “America,” from whence I came and to which I was soon to return, that he wishes to draw into his immaterial universe of living trees and mountains, in my person, one of the few, perhaps the last who had come to him from the young continent of hope? It meant no love or friendship or goodwill—we had hardly met!—but it sent out a stream of sympathy that will not cease.”

From Gerald M. Moser’s The Embrace of a Poet, Books Abroad, Vol.28, No. 4