It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.
text: Ian McEwan, Atonement
image: William S. Burroughs’s walking stick, Rome, May 1989, photo by Udo Breger.
TILL THE FEELING PASSED
Oh, it was all hard to understand, and all sad, although it was so beautiful. Nobody really knew anything. People lived; they went here and there about the earth and rode through the forests; so much seemed to challenge or to promise….and it was as though something would happen, something never seen and yet sighed for, as though a veil would be pulled off the world; till the feeling passed, and there had been nothing.”
text: Hermann Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmun
photograph: Thomas Zakowski
THE GODS ENVY US
They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.
photograph: Alex Lianopoulos, text: Homer, The Illiad
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Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.
All the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for millions of years. Yet their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soil. Human industry has been in full swing for little over a century, yet it has brought about decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.
Let me point out, if it has escaped your notice, that what an artist does, is fail. Any reading of literature (I mean the theory of artistic creation), however summary, will persuade you instantly that the paradigmatic artistic experience is that of failure. The actualization fails to meet, equal, the intuition. There is something “out there” which cannot be brought “here””. This standard. I don’t mean bad artist. I mean good artists. There is no such thing as a “successful artist” (except of course, in worldly terms).
Voyeurism I take to be an eroticized expression of curiosity whose chief phenomenological characteristic is the distance maintained between the voyeur and the object. The tension between the desire to draw near the object and the necessity to maintain the distance becomes a libidinous energy nondischarge, which is what the voyeur seeks. The tension.
All things Rotate
Whether the years of your lives are 3,000 or ten times 3,000, remember that no one loses a life other than the one he lives now, nor lives life other than the one he loses. The longest and shortest terms are thereafter the same. The present belongs to everyone. To die is to lose the present, which is only the briefest instant. The past and the future cannot be lost because that which belongs to no one cannot be taken. Remember that all things rotate, and rotate again, in the same orbit, and that for the spectator, it is the same to see them for one century, or for two, forever
text: J.L. Borges, El Tiempo Circular in Historia de la Eternidad
image: Chateau de la Rochefoucauld Stairway II by Chris Tarling
There is a strange melancholy in an abandoned home or a demolished apartment house, a melancholy that reveals the traces and scars of intimate lives to the public gaze. The tenderness of the experience results from the fact that we do not imagine the absent house, but instead the home, life, and faith of its inhabitants.
Text: Encounters by Juhani Pallasmaa.
Image: Lost Places by Sven Fennema