Sunday, July 16, 2006

from The Adventures of Telemachus, Louis Aragon, 1922:

"I still wonder how I could have lost myself in time. I had accepted with pleasure an invitation to go to Normandy where one of my friends, the recently married Celeste P... has a villa. With Paris practically deserted, the prospect of spending a few days at the seashore in the bracing atmosphere of brine and fresh air delighted me. But I did not suspect the parlous states awaiting me in this land of peace and tranquility. The day had been splendid. Dust had invaded the compartment, but as son as we approached the sea a delicious coolness established its reign in our hearts. Upon arrival, I looked around and saw that the sky was sky blue. Celeste came toward me, his hand extended, when lo and behold, my mind wandered, and I thought of something else. Once you have thought of something else, it's all over. In no way could I return to my point of departure and, from one thing to the next, I found myself in a desert region at an undetermined period of the universe. At first I did not understand what was happening to me. I said to myself: "It won't last." Now I no longer know if it is still lasting.

I have ascertained that in the temporal blind alley where I have lost my way there is not a living soul. Only a companion in misfortune could enable me to come back to life. Together we would reconstitute time. Purely a question of comparison. But alone, I elude myself by dint of believing that I remain identical: if I stay the same from one minute to the next, how can I experience the quality acquired at this movement of the hand? Finally I no longer feel the continuity of my thought; strictly speaking, at certain moments. For the most part, everything seems logical to me in my solitude, and if I write for problematical rescuers, eyeless savages or the irresponsive waves that will carry off my bottle, I can no longer rest assured that the language I use will ever be intelligible to anyone but myself. I find reading impossible: I understand myself only within the moment. The words that come to mind wear at times odd faces, bare and perhaps different from themselves. Pricked balloons. Pastimes, pleasures, leisures strike me as strange customs: fire is what I consider the most mysterious.

(Translated by Renee Riese Hubert and Judd D. Hubert. Exact Change Press, 1997)


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