“Someone should calculate all the things that have not been accomplished for the sole reason that the word that would have inaugurated their “exterior” destiny found neither the means nor the opportunity for descending from brain to tongue, and from tongue to sonorous flight, like the bee from its hive. The number of things lost because of this defectus vocabuli is certainly greater than the number of human beings lost because the semen that contained them was spilled on hempen or silken sheets, or on overstuffed sofas, or simply because it was spilled on the bare ground or carried off by the waters of bidets into the dark heart of the oceans. It is in this sense that we should interpret Rimbaud’s verse: “Oisive jeunesse / À tout asservie, / Par délicatesse / J’ai perdu ma vie.” But what Paterne Berichon’s brother terms délicatesse is in reality that mysterious authority that we carry inside ourselves and that, for reasons unknown, prevents us from accomplishing the majority of the acts that we set out to do, and this very often to the detriment of our health, our reputations, and even our lives. As for the man who with unrelenting stubbornness fights against the arbitrary rules and tyranny that other men would impose on him, never in his blindness does it occur to him to fight against the arbitrary rules and tyranny that he carries inside. The cruelest tyrants and our worst enemies are inside us, and if the number of men who are externally free is very small, there is not even one man who has the right to proclaim himself internally free.”—
Alberto Savinio, “Psyche”.
(Translation of the Rimbaud citation: Idle youth / Enslaved to everything / By being too sensitive / I have wasted my life.)
Savinio, born Andrea Alberto de Chirco, was the younger brother of that other excellent de Chirco, and a fantastic painter and writer in his own right. (In the latter, better, I would argue.)
Below, “Self Portrait in the Form of an Owl”, c. 1930)
“Spreading messages dilutes them. Even understanding them is a compromise. The language kills itself, expires inside its host. Language acts as an acid over its message. If you no longer care about an idea or feeling, then put it into language. That will certainly be the last of it, a fitting end. Language is another name for coffin.”—Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet, 2012.
“He soaked completely in artificially purulent wounds, tried to lose himself in abominable orgies of frenzy that almost always ended with the bloody death of the actors or the birth of a mutant: boredom still ceaselessly imposed itself.”—Joyce Mansour, “Dolman the Malefic”, from Ca, 1970.
“You must have experienced the sensation of stepping forward in the darkness, thinking that it is the last step on the stairs only to find that it isn’t there. You are thrown momentarily into a state of complete disarray. Or when, in your bed, no matter how much care you take before falling asleep, your legs suddenly slacken and you fall you don’t know where. Ah well, in this country it’s always like that. Everything is made of the same material as that absent step.”—Jean Ferry, “Letter to an Unknown Person”. Originally published in Le mechanicien et autres contes, 1951.