“The desert is full to bursting. The sand talks to you but its words don’t rhyme, the stones shed and, I promise you, the commonest glass turns to amethyst. So tell me, what is the past? I’ll tell you. It’s a tide of ice that came and went, and little toads that still live buried in deathless breathing. They wait, yes, and their memories keep roaring of light and liquid air. […] You can smile, go on, smile! But men forget their names in the crevices of the desert wind; they crumple like burning paper with frozen throats and eyes that roll in the sun. Their bones turn to chalk, but they still come to lie down and feel the hot breath on their faces and stars fall on their mouths. […] Stub your toe on a stumbling stone and cry. There’s no harm done. Shake the sand from your hair and pick the cactus spine from your shirt. Laugh and say it isn’t true. But in the red rock chasm, you’ll not have time to cry out. Your words will be heard only in the world you are coming to, wrapped in the dust of this one.”—
Eerie, prophetic dinner conversation from Dorothea Tanning’s strangely overlooked 2004 gothic novel Chasm, which may be a reworking of her first novel, Abyss, originally written in 1947 though unpublished til 1977. My copy of Chasm bears the handwritten inscription: “for dear Mary Power with a million memories + hugs. Dorothea”
“Perhaps life needs to be deciphered like a cryptogram. Secret staircases, frames from which the paintings quickly slip aside and vanish (giving way to an archangel bearing a sword or to those who forever advance), buttons which must be indirectly pressed to make an entire room move sideways or vertically, or immediately change all its furnishings; we may imagine the mind’s greatest adventure as journey of this sort to the paradise of pitfalls.”—Andre Breton, Nadja, 1928.