Dalmatia, Hrastska - July 2003

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita ...

Yes, Clarissa thinks, it's time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep - it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident, and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.
- The Hours, Michael Cunningham

The boredom against which you mount a hopeless struggle by means of an ordered life. The sudden moments of revolt. Solitude is as full of secrets as the jungle. A man who has signed away his soul and his fate to solitude is incapable of faith. He can only wait. For the day or the hour when he can talk about everything that forced him into solitude. It's the moment when something happens not just deep among the trees but also in the dark interior of the human heart, for the heart, too, has its nights and its wild surges, as strong an instinct for the hunt as a wolf or a stag. The human night is filled with the crouching forms of dreams, desires, vanities, self-interest, mad love, envy, and the thirst for revenge, as the desert conceals the puma, the hawk and the jackal.
- Ambers, Sandar Marai

Nessum maggior dolore che ricordarsi del temp felice nella miseria

Jungfrau, Schweiz - September 2002

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita ...

Until now, in spite of everything, I had welcomed each new day as though it were a new life, where all past failures and problems were erased, and all future possibilities and joys open and available, to be achieved probably before night fell again. Now, in this winter of snow and crutches with Phineas, I began to know that each morning reasserted the problems of the night before, that sleep suspended all but changed nothing between dawn and dusk. - A Separate Peace, John Knowles

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle

Aquamarines grew with emeralds. But emeralds were fragile and always broke into smaller pieces, while aquamarines were stronger, grew huge crystals without any trouble, so they weren't worth as much. It was the emerald that didn't break that was really valuable thing. - White Oleander, Janet Fitch

Voss, Norge February 2002

Nessum maggior dolore che ricordarsi del temp felice nella miseria

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita ...

She remained for many hours silent and without tears, squeezing the envelope in her pocket and starring into the dark at the misfortune she did not understand. She did not know the history, nor what history was. She knew a little of her own history, barely knew the history of those she loved, and those she loved had suffer as she did. She looked at him with an odd air of indecision as if she were divided between her faith in her son's intelligence and her conviction that life in its entirety was a misfortune you could not struggle against but could only endure. Like all her people, she had grown up with anger, and danger might wring her heart but she would endure it as she did everything else.

And he who had wanted to escape from the country without a name, from the crowd and from a family without a name, but in whom something had done on craving darkness and anonymity also seeing the dealdly look of his mother's face, wandering through the night of the years in the land of oblivion where each one is the first man. Where he had to bring himself up, without a father after waiting for him to reach the age of listening, to tell him the family's secret, or a sorrow of long ago, or the experience of his life, those moments when even the ridiculous and hateful Polonius all of a sudden becomes great when he is speaking of Laertes. No one had spoken to him, and he had to learn by himself, to grow alone, in fortitude, in strength, find his own morality and truth, at last to be born as a man and then to be born in a harder childbirth, which consists of being born in relation to others, to women, try to learn to live without roots and without faith and today all of them are threatened with eternal anonymity and the loss of the only consecrated traces of their passage on this earth, the illegible slabs in the cemetery that the night has now covered over; they had to learn how to live in relation to others, to the immense host of the conquerors, now dispossessed, who preceded them on this land and in whom they now had to recognize the brotherhood of race and destiny. - The First Man,Albert Camus

Ein seliger sprung in die ewigkieit

Voss, Norge February 2002

Nullum exstitit magnum ingenium sine aliqua.

Oh, how transitory is man, that even in the peace where finds real confirmation of his existence, where he makes the one true impress of his personality in the memories, in the souls of those he loves, that even there he must fade and vanish, and how soon!

I often lie down to sleep whishing -yes, sometimes hoping not to wake up again; and the next morning I open my eyes, again see the sun and feel wretched. What is man, that celebrated demigod! Does he not lack powers just where he needs them most? And when he soars with joy, or sinks into suffering, is he not in both cases held back and restored to dull, cold consciousness at the very moment where he longs to lose himself in the fullness of the Infinite?
- The Sorrow of Young Werther,Johann Wolfgan Van Goethe

No one ever comes back from the dead, no one ever enters the world without weeping; no none is asked when he wishes to enter life, no one is asked when he wishes to leave.

The essence of pleasure does not lie in the thing enjoyed but in the accompanying consciousness. A life that is lived wholly in memory, is the most perfect conceivable, the satisfaction of memory are richer than any reality and have a security that no reality possesses. Grief is secretive, silent, solitary and seeks to retire into itself.
- Either/Or - Søren Kierkegaard

He has comprehended the deep secret that also in loving another person one must be sufficient unto oneself.
- Fear and Trembling - Søren Kierkegaard

Nessum maggior dolore che ricordarsi del temp felice nella miseria

Voss, Norge July 2001

Verbum caro factum est.

There was nothing lonely about an empty plain or an ocean bottom or an unclimbed mountaintop.
No place on earth was lonely until man came to it, bringing his loneliness with him.
- The White Tower, James Ramsey Ullman

And who has never felt this sorrow, let him make sorrow; for he hath never yet felt perfect sorrow. This sorrow, when it is had, cleanseth the soul not only of sin, but also of pain in hath deserved for sin; and also it maketh a soul able to receive that joy, the which reaveth from man all knowing and feeling of his being. If we experience an urge to self-transcendence, it is because, in some obscure way and in spite of our conscious ignorance, we know who we really are."
- The Devils of Loudon, Aldous Huxley

Cupertino, October 2000

Omne adeo genus in terris hominunque frerarum
et genus aequoreum, pecudes, pictaeque volucres
in furias, ignesque ruunt; amor monibus idem.

When you are miserable, you envy other people's happiness. To me comfort is like the wrong memory at the wrong place or time if one is lonely one prefers discomfort.
Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence. It was unhappiness that broke down the habits of work. -The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

Are we fallen angels who didnt want to believe that nothing is nothing and so were born to lose our love ones and dear friends one by one and finally our own life, to see it proved?
O gnashing teeth of earth, where would it all lead to but some sweet golden eternity to prove that we're all been wrong, to prove that the proving itself was nil ...
- Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac

...But in human love there's never such a thing as victory; only a few minor tactical successes before the final defeat of death or indifference.
-The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene

How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think, than in all the other time. I'd like to be an old man and to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew about so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.
-For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernst Hemingway

Unknown date

I discovered that even the mediocre can have adventures and even the fearful can achieve. I envied those who in success clung to a measure of peace and tranquility. I was always too restless and life was a constant battle against boredom.

- Nothing Venture, Nothing Win - Sir Edmund Hillary

I am the man who fasts until I see what I want.
The jackal with one eye that looks back and one that regards the path you consider taking. In his jaws are pieces of the past he delivers to you, and when all of that time is fully discovered it will prove to have been already known.
We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. - The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

There are times when it's best to be quiet, to endure, to wait, continue, slowly and wait for luck to change. - The Gambler, the Nun & the Radio - Ernest Hemmingway

And where are the windows? Where does the light come in? Maybe the light is going to have to come in as best it can, through whatever chinks and cracks have been left in the builder's faulty craftmanship, and if that's the case you can be sure that nobody feels worse about it than I do. God knows, Bernie, God knows there certainly ought to be a window around here somewhere for all of us.

- Buiders, Richard Yates

Cupertino June 18th, 1998

Pondus Meum Amor Meus

Lonely and miserable...as the solitude of a mountain is to the solitude of a cave.

Two characters, one fictional, one real, both Hippo can relate to...

..artists and poets who as well as having a reputation for producing great or fine art have something garishly Wrong with them as persons; a spectacular flaw in character or citizenship, a construably romantic affliction or addiction - extreme self-centeredness, marital infidelity, stone-deafness, stone-blindness, a terrible thirst, a mortally bad cough, a partiality for grand-scale adultery, a certified or uncertified weakness for opium, and so on, God have mercy on the lonely bastards. If suicide isnt at the top of the list of compelling infirmities for creative men, the suicide poet or artist, one cant help noticing, has always been given a very considerable amount of avid attention, not seldom on sentimental grounds almost exclusively...
-Seymour, an Introduction - J.D. Salinger

Perhaps the most overrated virtue in our list of shoddy virtues is that of giving. Giving builds up the ego of the giver, makes him superior and higher and larger than the receiver. Nearly always, giving is a selfish pleasure, and in many cases it is a downright destructive and evil thing.

For giving can bring the same sense of superiority as getting does, and philanthropy may be another kind of spiritual avarice.

It is so easy to give, so exquisitely rewarding. Receiving, on the other hand, if it be well done, requires a fine balance of self-knowledge and kindness. It requires humility and tact and great understanding of relationships. In receiving you cannot appear, even to yourself, better or stronger or wiser than the giver, although you must be wiser to do it well.

It requires a self-esteem to receive - not self-love but just a pleasant acquaintance and liking of oneself.

Once Ed said to me, "For a very long time I didnt like myself." It was not said in self-pity but simply as an unfortunate fact. "It was a very difficult time, " he said, "and very painful. I did not like myself for a number of reasons, some of them valid and some of them pure fancy. I would hate to have to go back to that. Then gradually", he said, "I discovered with surprise and pleasure that a number of people did like me. And I thought, if they can like me, why cannot I like myself? Just thinking it did not do it, but slowly I learned to like myself and then it was all right."

This was not said in self-love in its bad connotations but in self-knowledge. He meant literally that he had learned to accept and like the person "Ed" as he liked other people. It gave him a great advantage. Most people do not like themselves at all. They distrust themselves, put on masks and pomposities. They quarrel and boast and pretend and are jealous because they do not like themselves. But mostly they do not even know themselves well enough to form a true liking, and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.

Once Ed was able to like himself he was released from the secret prison of self-contempt. Then he did not have to prove superiority any more by any of the ordinary methods, including giving. He could receive and understand and be truly glad, not competitively glad.

Although his creativeness lay in receiving, that does not mean that he kept things as property. When you had something from him it was not something that was his that he tore away from himself. When you had a thought from him or a piece of music or twenty dollars or a steak dinner, it was not his - it was yours already, and his was only the head and hand that steadied it in position toward you.

I wish we could all be so. If we could learn even a little to like ourselves, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away. Maybe we would not have to hurt one another just to keep our ego-chins above water.

- About Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

Cupertino, March 16th, 1998

Kouden Touton Hoti Me Hippo

There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and for the damage done. For the dead and for your own lost self. All your grief hasnt changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You've left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on or not. But if you go on, it's knowing you carry your scars with you. No matter how you might yearn for it and pray for it, you would never get it. You could be too far ruined. You could be so lost in bitterness and anger that you could not find your way back. Even my best intentions come to naught, and hope itself is but an obstacle. But there was a redemption of some kind, in such complete fulfillment of a desire so long deferred.

The baby - come wailing to the world in pain and in blood - a type of our miserable earthly lives, so consumed with violence. The crow - its blackness, its outlaw nature, its tendency to feast on carrion - a type of the dark forces that waits to overtake man's soul.

At least now and again, just saying what your heart felt, straight and single and unguarded, could be more useful than four thousand lines of John Keats.

Nature, sometimes calls attention to its special features and recommends them for interpretation.

How did you find someone to hate for a thing that just was? What would be the lost of not having an enemy? Who could you strike for retribution other than yourself?

- Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier

The aurora was the radiance of a beautiful ice maiden. She lived far in the north, and her coldness repelled all suitors. But the king of elves and flowers fell in love with her, and his desire melted her frozen heart. That is how spring came.

In her swift passage through a new world, she moves like a bullet. A small violence. Her writing a record of damage.

For me, every new encounter is a confrontation from which I withdraw into solitude, to examine myself for the marks of deformation. The world is forever pounding on my character, such as it is, shaping it the way water patiently shapes a rock.

Pages of what is he thinking? Can he tell what I'm feeling? Would he care? Immortal loneliness.

- Icefields, Thomas Wharton

Awesome fears that shrink us and the capacity for love that enlarges us beyond measure. Mystery of our living between two worlds, one of space and time, the other of promise and expectation.

Did God finally strike you down? Just as a treasure that is exposed loses its value. So a virtue which is known vanishes, just as wax melts when it is near a fire, so the soul is destroyed by praise.

Trials and hardships through which we travel to God. Wisdom requires patience, discipline and strength in the face of testing. From your youth choose instruction and till your hair is white you will keep finding wisdom.

Stupidity is sufficient into itself - wisdom can never learn enough.
I was building an impressive storehouse of grievances.
Men can heal the lustful. Angels can heal the malicious. Only God can heal the proud. Human maturity - the slow process of the heart's awakening.

- The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris

What can men do to make known to themselves this sense of deliverance? Everything about mankind is paradox. He who strives and conquers grows soft. The magnanimous man grow rich becomes mean. The creative artist for whom everything is made easy nods. Every doctrine swears that it can breed men, but none can tell us in advance what sort of men it will breed. Nothing in the world had forewarned us of its coming - a joy so thrilling that if it was born of misery we remembered even the misery with tenderness. All of us, in seeing old friends again, have remembered with happiness the trials we lived through with those friends. We are fertilized by mysterious circumstances.

To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible. It is to feel shame at sight of what seems to be unmerited misery. It is to take pride in a victory won by one's comrades. It is to feel, when setting one's stone, that one is contributing to the building of the world.

-Wind, Sand and Stars - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

Who can be good, if not made so by loving? - St Augustine

Unkown date

Searching...

Kierkeggard called it 'The sickness of infinitude', wandering from one path to another, with no real recognition that I was embarked upon a search, and scarcely a clue as to what I might be after. I only knew that at the bottom of eath breath was a hollow place that needed to be filled.
-The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen

We stand between 2 infinites, that of the vastest of the universe and that of the minutest nothingness. How ever great our power of comprehension is equally limited in both directions.
Our thoughts always occupied with the past and the future. We almost never think of the present. What foolishness to wander about in times that are not ours and neglect the only time that is ours. Man's blindness and misery, the whole universe silent and man without light, left to himself, and as it were lost in this corner of the univere, not knowing who put him there, what he has come to do there, what will happen to him at death, incapable of any kind of knowledge.

Le coeur à ses raisons, que la raison ne connait point.
-Pascal

Cupertino, August 22nd, 1997

who are you?

A man is the history of his breaths and thoughts, acts, atoms, and wounds, love, indifference and dislike; also of his race and nation, the soil that fed him and his forebears, the stones and sands of his familiar places, long-silenced battles and struggles of conscience, of the smiles of girls and the slow utterance of old women, of accidents and the gradual action of inexorable law, of all this and something else too, a single flame which in every way obeys the laws that pertain to Fire itself, and yet is lit and put out from one moment to the next, and can never be relumed in the whole waste of time to come. All History is hard facts - and something else - passion and colour lent by men.

But we all have little pleasures of different kinds. What are yours?

There may be wandering spirits, earth-bubbles, exhalations, creatures of the air, who occasionally cross our usual currents of apprehension, proceeding on their own unseen errands. That agonised reminiscence of some kind in some mental form does inhere in some terrible places there is some evidence. There are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. But these can be found out through long and patient contemplation of the intricate workings of dead minds and live organisms, through wisdom.

Who am I?

My world is haunted by voiceless shapes...and wandering Passions...and little fluttering Fears.

The only life I am sure of is the life of the Imagination. Whatever the absolute Truth -or Untruth- of that old life-in-death, poetry can make that man live for the length of the faith you or any other choose to give him.

I want to take time, to seek out solitude at regular intervals, to take pleasure in beauty, to sit and face my emptiness.

I want to live and love and write. Sorrow's a silent place.
(borrowed from Possession by A.S.Byatt)

Odi et amo: quare id faciam fortasse requiris
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrusior
-Catullus

J'arai dû mourir ci-après. Un temps serait venu pour ce mot.
Tous nos hiers n'ont qu'allumé, pour les sots, une voie vers la Mort poussiéreuse.

What do you want?

There's only so much room in one heart. You can fill it up with love or you can fill it with resentment. But every bit of resentment you hold takes space away from the love. Why you so busy feeling angry that you wouldnt be able to appreciate what it feels like to have him in your arms, sleeping that way.
(borrowed from The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds)

Which do you want?

Cupertino, April 6th, 1997

My solitude is my Treasure, the best thing I have.

You know I'm not one for a life of mourning. I've always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again punished again. But the worse I am, the more I need God. I cant shut myself out from His mercy. That is what it would mean; starting a life with you, without Him. One can only hope to see one step ahead. But I saw today there was one thing unforgivable - ...the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I'm not quite bad enough to do to set up a rival good to God's. Why should I be allowed to understand that, and not you? ...or it may be a private bargain between me and God, that if I give up this one thing I want so much, however bad I am, He wont quite despair of me in the end. Now we shall both be alone, and I shall have no way of making you understand. I dont want to make it easier for you. I hope your heart may break; but I do understand.

Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

While rivers run to sea, while shadows move over the mountains, while the stars burn on, always, your praise, your honor, and your name, whatever land I go to, will endure.

Under a friendly silence of a still moon.
Black night around us with its hollow
shadow. Who could explain that night's
destruction, equal its agony with tears?

But the queen finds no rest. Deep in her
veins the wound is fed; she burns with hidden fire.
His manhood, and the glory of his race,
Are an obsession with her, like his voice,
Gesture and countenance.
And bridal bed, here is the only man
Who has moved my spirit, shaken my weak will.
Why should you fight against a pleasing passion?
I think the gods have willed it so.
Soft fire consumes the marrow-bones,
the silent wound grows, deep in the heart.
Burning in love, infected to her very marrow.
When I was weeping did he so much as
sigh? Did he turn his eyes, ever so little,
toward me? Did he break at all.
There was nothing for her to do but sob
or choke with anguish.
There is nothing to which the hearts of
men and women cannot be driven by
love. Trade paradise for earth?
The seed of life is a spark of fire,
but the body a clod or earth, a clog,
a mortal burden.
Each of us suffers his own peculiar ghost.
Silent, staring; shame and sadness,
Boil up in that great heart, and grief
and love.

The Aeneid - Virgil

Exquisite figure, as of heaven's shaping, waited beside a pillar as he passed...
"Fare well, stranger; in your land remember me who met and saved you. It is worth your thought".
My loneliness for you
Embittered all the pain I bore
Grief instead, heaven sent me,
Years of pain
Deprived by Zeus of all sweets of life,
wasted with longing.
Tasted her salt grief, I will not meet the man again unkind the fate that sent him.

The Odyssey - Homer

It was only when writing that I felt wholly living.

Your absence makes the night prolong...

God did not endow me with very much capacity for being comfortable.

His love is a sad offer of truthfulness.

... but words, words mostly - words have been all my life, all my life...