Unreal Nature

April 22, 2016

It Drinks Itself

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:30 am

… Night puts an end to it, and only measure remains. (I am alive, I lend my ear.)

This first from the essay ‘The Lamp and the Bell’ found in Knowing the East by Paul Claudel; translated by James Lawler (1900; 2004):

… Night takes away our proof, we no longer know where we are. Lines and colors, our passionate arrangement of the world about us (whose center we carry with us wherever we go according to the angles from which at any moment our gaze makes its report), are no longer there to confirm our position. We are reduced to ourselves alone.

[line break added] Our vision no longer has the visible for limit, but the invisible for place of solitary confinement — homogeneous, immediate, indifferent, compact. In the heart of this darkness the lamp is somewhere, some thing. It appears wholly alive! It contains its oil; by virtue of its flame, it drinks itself.

… But if night shuts our eyes, it is that we may listen all the more, not only with our ears, but with all the audition of our souls breathing in the manner of fish. Something in the vast void gathers, ripens a number that is fired like a gun. I hear the bell like the need to speak, like the resolution of our visceral silence, the very word within the word.

[line break added] During the day, with stubborn force or in short bursts, we keep hearing the sentence woven on a continuous stave by all beings bonded by the duty of the chorus. Night puts an end to it, and only measure remains. (I am alive, I lend my ear.) Of what whole is it a part? [To] What movement does it beat? What time?

This next is from ‘Rice’:

By the iron blade we sink our teeth into the earth, and already our bread eats there in the way we shall eat it.

Finally, from ‘The Yellow Hour’:

… I go up to the hills and survey the sea of grain. Between the banks of grass and the huge dry flame of the day-colored plain, where is the old dark earth? The water is changed to wine; oranges glow in the silent branches. All is ripe — grain and straw, and the fruit with the leaf. It is indeed golden; all has come to an end and I see that all is true.

My most recent previous post from Claudel’s book is here.

-Julie

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