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Too Loud a Solitude 2015-07-18



For thirty-five years now I've been compacting waste-paper, and if I had it all to do over I'd do just what I've done for the past thirty-five years. Even so, three or four times a year my job turns from plus to minus: the cellar suddenly goes bad, the nags and niggles and whines of my boss pound in my ears and head and make the room into an inferno; the wastepaper, piled to the ceiling, wet and moldy, ferments in a way that makes manure seem sweet, a swamp decomposing in the depths of my cellar, with bubbles rising to the surface like will-o'-the-wisps from a stump rotting in the mire. And I have to come up for air, get away from the press, but I never go out, I can't stand fresh air anymore, it makes me cough and choke and sputter like a Havana cigar. So while my boss is screaming and wringing his hands and raining threats down on me, I slip away and set off in search of other basements, other cellars.
Most of all I enjoy central-heating control rooms, where men with higher education, chained to their jobs like dogs to their kennels, write the history of their times as a sort of sociological survey and where I learned how the fourth estate was depopulated and the proletariat went from base to superstructure and how the university-trained elite now carries on its work. My best friends are two former member of our Academy of Sciences who have been set to work in the sewers, so they've decided to write a book about them, about their crissings and crossings under Prague, and they are the ones who taught me that the excrement entering the sewage plant at Podbaba on Sundays differs substantially from the excrement entering it on Mondays, and that each day is so clearly differentiated from the rest that the rate of flux may be plotted on a graph, and according to the ebb and flow of prophylactics one may determine the relative frequency with which varying sections of Prague indulge in sexual intercourse.

Too Loud a Solitude, Bohumil Hrabal, 1976, translation Michael Henry Heim


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Aldous Huxley, Accidie 2015-07-14



On the Margin, Notes and Essays, 1923


He would lie in wait for monks grown weary with working in the oppressive heat, seizing a moment of weakness to force an entrance into their hearts.  And once installed there, what havoc he wrought!  For suddenly it would seem to the poor victim that the day was intolerably long and life desolatingly empty.  He would go to the door of his cell and look up at the sun and ask himself if a new Joshua had arrested it midway up the heavens.  Then he would go back into the shade and wonder what good he was doing in that cell or if there was any object in existence.  Then he would look at the sun again and find it indubitably stationary, and the hour of the communal repast of the evening as remote as ever.  And he would go back to his meditations, to sink, sink through disgust and lassitude into the black depths of despair and hopeless unbelief.  When that happened the demon smiled and took his departure, conscious that he had done a good morning’s work.



Tags: cycle / energy / desire / darkness / quote / empty / sun / escape / collapse / religion / death / archetype / dysfunctional / dizzy / determination / dissolve / hard / longing / god / will / Accidie / melancholy /


Peter_Camenzind 2015-02-20

Hermann Hesse, Peter Camenzind, translated by W. j. Strachan

As this personal love of nature began to grow in me and I listened to her voice as to a friend and travelling companion who speaks in a foreign language, my melancholy, though not cured, was ennobled and cleansed. My ear and eye became more acute, I learned to grasp subtleties and fine distinctions, and longed to hear the pulsation of life in all its manifestations more clearly and at close quarters - perhaps even to understand and enjoy the gift of expressing it in poetic form so that others also could get closer to it and seek out the springs of all refreshment, purification and childish innocence with deeper understanding. For the time being it remained a wish, a dream. I did not know whether it could ever be fulfilled, and I did what was nearest by loving everything visible and by no longer treating anything around me with scorn of indifference. p.84
[...]
I wanted to teach the people to be conscious of the pulse of the earth and take part in the life of the universe; not to forget in the bustle of their petty lives that we are not self-created gods but children belonging to the earth and the cosmic whole. I wanted to remind them that, like the songs of the poets and our dreams, the rivers, oceans, drifting clouds and raging storms are symbols and bearers of our hopes which spread their wings between heaven and earth; whose ultimate goal is the confident certainty of the right of citizenship and immortality of all living creatures.
[...]
But I was also eager to teach men to look for springs of joy and rivers of life in a brotherly love of nature. I wanted to preach the art of seeing, walking and enjoying life, of finding happiness in the present; to make it possible for mountains, seas and green islands to convey their message through their mighty and captivating tongues; to open up the view to the infinitely various manifestations of life as they blossomed day by day and overflowed beyond our towns and houses. I wanted to make people feel a sense of shame that we should know more about foreign wars, fashions, gossip, literature and art than about Spring unfolding its vital force outside our towns and the river that flows beneath out bridges and forests, and the lovely meadows traversed by our railways.



Tags: research / text / belief / desire / quote / field / nature / earth / water / creativity / longing / tree / plant / river / melancholy / storm / Rhine / Hermann_Hesse / Peter_Camenzind /


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