“Chancel: We may wonder what sort of reader you are? Do you read a lot?
Barthes: No, I don’t read a lot. It’s rather paradoxical. I could say, superficially, that it’s because I don’t have the time, as everyone says.
Being precise, I shall say—still speaking from this level of sensitivity and pleasure—that I don’t read much, either because the book bores me and at that point I put it down, or because it excites me, pleases me, at at that point I’m constantly wanting to lift my eyes from the page to carry on thinking and reflecting for myself. All those things make me quite a poor reader in quantitative terms.”
Roland Barthes, ‘Simply a Particular Contemporary’, (trans. Chris Turner)
‘Celebration . . . is self-restraint, is attentiveness, is questioning, is meditating, is awaiting, is the step over into the more wakeful glimpse of the wonder – the wonder that a world is worlding around us at all, that there are beings rather than nothing, that things are and we ourselves are in their midst, that we ourselves are and yet barely know who we are, and barely know that we do not know all this.’
Martin Heidegger, quoted as the epigraph to the first chapter of Richard Polt’s Heidegger: an introduction.
I’m preparing for another attempt to read Being and Time, encouraged by Danyl McLauchlan’s Tranquility and Ruin. I read the latter out of curiosity, thinking I was reading against the grain, but instead found his writing on metaphysics, meditation, Heidegger and effective altruism thought provoking. It’s another rabbit hole, but not so different from the Andrei Bely-Nietzsche train of thought I was chasing before reading McLauchlan’s book.
“Genre no longer interests me. What interests me is mystery. Is there some ritual attached to mystery? I believe there is. In order to adhere to the certainty of things. Meanwhile, I somehow already adhere to the earth. I am a daughter of nature: I want to hold things, feel them, touch them, I want to exist. And this is all part of a totality, of a mystery. I am but one being. But there was a difference between the writer and me (or am I wrong? I cannot be certain). But no longer. I am but one being. And I leave you to be yourself. Does that frighten you? I believe it does. But it is worthwhile. Even if it hurts. For the pain soon passes.”
“The march toward old age, and let’s say it plainly, toward death, continues to provide unimaginable surprises, as if everything were an invention, a spectacle in which I am both actor and audience, and in which the scenes are characterised quite often by their parodic quality, like a laughable but also harsh theatrical illusion.”
“As I crouched on the pavement now, looking down at the stagnant green water, I could picture as in a dream or a film that spot as it had appeared back then, some fifteen years earlier: a spot clad in flowers and fruit trees, where the sunshine seemed to have congealed. It was bright and tranquil, disquietingly so. That was the sight that presented itself just beyond the historic old gate, as one stepped under it out of the avenue’s din of tramways and traffic. I used to think that I must never tell anybody about this discovery of mine. No one else must know about this place that made me yearn to dissolve until I became a particle of light myself. The way that light cohered in one place was unearthly. I gazed at its stillness without every going in through the gate.”