'Ad passions: Passion is the exact opposite of action. As
courage is the virtue of action, so endurance is the virtue of
passion. Passion is always connected with love ...Poetry arises
out of passion. Endurance will make itself remembered,
wants duration, for action and thought the writing of it is
like an after-thought'
-H. Arendt, Denktagbuch
Waking up with oneself after a long-standing emigration, it is not so bad really. A week for personal entreaties with friends and others, jocously laughing at one's lack of commitment and passing the days with less overarching presences than the heart would dare confess. Soaked in the love of the Christian woman and rather unable to move within those unturbulent waters, their staleness is enough a motif for sickness and for lack of conversation, but it wouldn't matter, the newspapers still contained precious jokes and there's perhaps some kerygma still to the writing of ill verses in the silent company of another, whereas she might not be able to feel as radically diminished as yourself there's a great deal of compassion in a lack of knowledge. The archaic poetry abounds with examples of it, with small political motifs and less than great and heroic love stories replaced by the jealous cunning of history, the distortion of the facts if not for the sake of clarity then for the sake of amazement, after all the ancient tragedians could not concerned with anything than entertainment, so that the Christian death and martyrdom of Polynices' sister - no matter how much did Sophocles depart from the original legend, had the purpose of entertaining the anonymous public eye much more than it took upon itself the education of the human race, a campaign that Socrates or Jesus would victore in her name and carry through with no more success than they could save themselves from the sakelessness of the whole enterprise.
'L'Eglise de L'ile, dite Eilandskerk' says a drawing on my wall, an old litograph as I sit in no one's company and not quite desiring my own for the time being, entirely frightened about my own sleep and dreams that are only a continuum of the conversation I hold with myself and o behold! in the eternity of the broad daylight and in the company of imaginary characters at night when I write with the mood of an ode but rather producing sketches of portraits. Eilandskerk is not such a good witness for writing, and then that Friday morning the air outside had an unusual freshness that could but befall one in love, I glimpsed into old verses from the 'Hebrew Ballads' and thought about translating outloud a few verses about Ruth to the Christian woman or to the love of the Christian woman offered willy-nilly and washing my face with enough oblivion as to soak me back into the same old thoughts I had withhold from myself during the previous night. Then I gave up, didn't feel like translating German verses in public, because exiles are not so popularly justified these days of bureaucratic despotism and anyhow I had translated them once already for an un-Christian man in whose faltering they would make so much more sense then in the publicity of Christian female love. Somehow I could crave at that moment for anything but being alone, even when I well know how unable I am to. But the kiss of good-bye was fresh as thyme, and the odours of Shabbat did tend to me their bewailing so that on the way back to my seating place before the litograph of the Eilandskerk I could feel not as vanquished by the eternity of the holiest day and less than willing to make compromises with it.
Then comes the grand finale of the entanglements with Europe, as though one had a choice in between being and non-being something that no longer has natural rights and that can be chosen for a price as hefty as learning a foreign language. I didn't have any despair to offer, except for a loyal inability to speak about anything personal, the willingness to laugh romantically and let myself be treated to nectars like those offered in libations to Cypris. I thought about the beauty of those conversations that eventually could only lead to an uninterrupted silence that revealed less desire than ennui, and how truly European was this gentleman! He was not like Sabrina's Tomaz but a rather anynomous T., who could not take any more pleasure in De Yourcenar and confessed to spend long afternoons in front of the screen watching pornography, 'In my opinion one of the best things one can do with his life these days', end of quote. Beauty as the only concern of living, the embodiment of the Catholic spirit that cannot be called 'secularized' because it had landed on earth with sword and blood in love even before than one had a chance to start hesitating whether the Messiah would come at all, I did find myself though, completely intimated and intimidated by such beauty and its elucidation. But perhaps I do want different things from life after all, perhaps I do have some questions. Some things to wait for.
The old Europe is all what self-education was concerned with, replacing Shaw and Doris Lessing with the Greek and the Latin and trying to make oneself feel like having landed home in a way. I could very well cooperate with the purposelessness of the gentleman and even ironically laughter at some of the puns as to make sure to convey the message that I'm lying for the sake of entertainment. That Europe perhaps existed only in the minds of some very wounded German Jews and in the little hearths of some villagers and church-goers, it seems to me as though it had never existed in an earthly form, perhaps not ever since the Austrian peasant paid us a visit. My comfortable feeling was immanent since the days of my friendship with Carolo, the Latin teacher that treated us for coffee and who would clean his modest apartment while reciting aloud full chapters of the Illiad in the ancient tongue, the same I had before the streets corrupted it. He had been a lapsed-out student at a Hebrew school and not unlike me a self-educated scholar, self-educated for life of course - the only education that could never help one learn how to live properly, because of having too much security about its knowledge, and with it too much faith altogether. Being a denizen of 19th century Vienna had always been a distinguishable personal attitude, because that had been perhaps the last world that could be truly loved after all.
But I feel differently today, and can't quite come to grips with the best self-education if for the purpose of watching pornography in the afternoons, and am rather willing to embrace the freedom of reason - but without antinomies. I'm not awaiting death, I'm deliberately dying all the time as to set sin free in the world. I prefer the love of the Christian woman, the corrosiveness of Baudelaire's race, the Messianic lack of solipsism.
The next day at the ocean, I feel pretty kind about myself and not willing to confess anything, less spotted and less spotless than ever before, kind of not wanting to swim in the same waters twice as though Heraclitus hadn't proposed a philosophical solution to the problem of the eternal recurrence. The sun could hardly be seen, except on my back... and delicately I felt less asunder than it is regulated, I wasn't embarrassed about myself and even stared to believe that my philosophical laziness protracted me with less youth than one would expect. I could recognize so many faces and had been under the spell of just too much thrill, wrote the lousiest rhymes in those days so that I couldn't help throwing them away, and they're so bad especially because they were written for nobody. Those passions had very little to do with endurance, and rather filled in the empty hours of the day with some kind of mirror for one to believe in beauty and the ephemeral after all. Maybe nowadays the ephemeral is like the nunc stands of the Platonists, that kind of broken eternity that chains one from the back and from the front... the only path available for the ascent of the Psalm, for the climax of ancient philosophy and lastly for the decline of the metrical scheme in poetry since realism and expressionism. It is not something of today but of yesterday and of tomorrow, and because I believe this to be so, cannot quite feel really ephemeral but in the most arduous enterprises and endurances.
I started to lack the pretentiousness that hovers on the air from the shores down to the sky-breakers, and I believe this to be so if at all, only because of my tempative obsession with my own death and the funerals of others. I sketch our speeches back then, organize the people and arrange flowers in advance, think of the proper locations and who the guests might be, as though one couldn't indulge himself in anything but this. This lack of pretentiousness didn't make me so happy, but at the bottom of my desires something older and wiser rested. I had decided to undertake no other concerns but my own so that eventually I slept on the sand while the furtive seekers gathered around our tent and only in forsaking what I had somehow craved so much for, I could experience a little freedom - just enough as to be able to return. I did think of how interesting it could have been then to sit idly and flatter with the gentleman then, or how much pleasure I could have taken in trying to force my past upon myself once again - from the Phoebus to the fratricide, but my energy to live such, just like hope, vanished with the blink of a second and then the nunc stans was broken again! And who would really bother to put it together now? I guess I developed different attitudes toward beauty, and the broken nunc stans is one of them.
Lastly the old friends and the Christian woman, trying to live as though I had never betrayed them in my mind. And endless scotch just for the sake of reminding oneself to be in a party and not congregating. But this is not what made be blissful, but rather the idiotic alternatives. I could sip down the glasses as though one had to choose poison himself and it was no longer entertaining. I seem to be drunk enough from living this way, free of sin and free of destination - other than contingency. I have no pivotal need to escape reality, for I can easily escape my own person and in this irreal world I think all the possible entertainment can be contained and marketed outside the theatres. There's also the issue of not being a teen no more, so that everything can eventually poison you, and there's no need to help God with his job. In practice one can damage himself better than any sadist would - because you know your broken rib even before you knew about it and could spend all the time in the world dissecting it, so that one needs nobody else to help him, no poison to improve the solubility of the problem. The drinking doesn't seem to help no more, because the living has overwritten it already so that I've just quit in the thick mood of boredom. I have enough will and introspection as to hurt myself really badly, not that I want to do it, otherwise I wouldn't be so obssessed with dying. I don't need any helpers here, and for a change I think I'll dedicate myself to write philosophy and trouble myself with people. With what else could I be troubled? With the world and history? Well yes, of course... but this only means one thing: plurality. I keep betraying friends and dreams, intimately devouring my own ficticious characters and unliving them if for the sake of curiosity. I think I'll try to work on my French again this week.