Apr 30, 2011

We the Living (an excerpt)

   "There is no such thing as duty. If you know that a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don't want to do it - it isn't right. If it's right and you don't want to do it - you don't know what right is and you're not a man."
   "Haven't you ever wanted a thing for no reason save one: that you wanted it?"
   "Certainly. That's always been my only reason. I've never wanted things unless they could help my cause. For, you see, it is my cause."
   "And your cause is to deny yourself for the sake of millions?"
   "No. To bring millions up to where I want them - for my sake."
   "And when you think you're right, you do it at any price?"
   "I know what you're going to say. You're going to say, as so many of our enemies do, that you admire our ideals, but loathe our methods."
   "I loathe your ideals."
   "For one reason, mainly, chiefly and eternally, no matter how much your Party promises to accomplish, no matter what paradise it plans to bring mankind. Whatever your other claims may be, there's one you can't avoid, one that will turn your paradise into the most unspeakable hell: your claim that man must live for the state."
   "What better purpose can he live for?"
   "Don't you know," her voice trembled suddenly in a passionate plea she could not hide, "don't you know that there are things, in the best of us, which no outside hand should dare to touch? Things sacred because, and only because, one can say: 'This is mine'? Don't you know that we live only for ourselves, the best of us do, those who are worthy of it? Don't you know that there is something in us which must not be touched by any state, by any collective, by any number of millions?"
   He answered: "No."
   "Comrade Taganov," she whispered, "how much you have to learn!"
   He looked down at her with his quiet shadow of a smile and patted her hand like a child's. "Don't you know," he asked, "that we can't sacrifice millions for the sake of the few?"
   "Can you sacrifice the few? When those few are the best? Deny the best is right to the top - and you have no best left. What are your masses but millions of dull, shrivelled, stagnant souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, no will of their own, who eat and sleep and chew helplessly the words others put into their brains? And for those you would sacrifice the few who know life, who are life? I loathe your ideals because I know no worse injustice than the giving of the undeserved. Because men are not equal in ability and one can't treat them as if they were. And because I loathe most of them."
   "I'm glad. So do I."
   "But then..."
   "Only I don't enjoy the luxury of loathing. I'd rather try to make them worth looking at, to bring them up to my level. And you'd make a great little fighter - on our side."
   "I think you know I could never be that."
   "I think I do. But why don't you fight against us, then?"
   "Because I have less in common with you than the enemies who fight you, have. I don't want to fight for the people, I don't want to fight against the people, I don't want to hear of the people. I want to be left alone - to live."

- Ayn Rand, We the Living

Apr 28, 2011

Synecdoche, New York

What was once before you - an exciting, mysterious future - is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone's experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone's everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It's yours. It is time for you to understand this.

As the people who adore you stop adoring you; as they die; as they move on; as you shed them; as you shed your beauty; your youth; as the world forgets you; as you recognize your transience; as you begin to lose your characteristics one by one; as you learn there is no-one watching you, and there never was, you think only about driving - not coming from any place; not arriving any place. Just driving, counting off time. Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are...



Hamlet: To be or not t-

Nike: Just do it.

Apr 24, 2011

I have learned to make do with sympathy.

... Have you never had a sudden need for sympathy, for help or for friendship? Of course you have. I have learned to make do with sympathy. It is easier to come by and it carries no commitment. In the internal monologue, 'please accept my sympathy' comes right before 'now let's get on with something else' ... Friendship is not so easy: it's long and hard to win, but when it's there, you can't get rid of it, you have to make do. In any case, don't imagine that your friends will be phoning you up every evening, as they should, to find out if this happens to be the day you've decided to commit suicide or simply need company or don't feel like going out ... If they do phone, it will be the day when you're not alone and life is smiling on you. As for suicide, they're more likely to drive you to it, by reason of what, according to them, you owe yourself. Heaven preserve us, my dear sir, from being put on a pedestal by our friends.

... Actually, in a way, I'm on the subject with this business of friends and relations. You see, I was told about a man whose friend was put in jail and who slept on the floor of his bedroom every night so that he would not be enjoying a luxury that had been denied to the friend whom he loved. Who would sleep on the floor for us, my dear sir? Am I myself capable of it? Let me tell you, I'd like to be and I shall be. Yes, we'll all be capable of it one day and that will be our salvation. But it's not easy, because friendship is absent-minded or at least powerless. It cannot achieve what it wants. Perhaps, after all, it doesn't want strongly enough. Perhaps we do not love life enough. Have you observed that only death awakens our feelings? How we love the friends who have just departed - don't you find? How we admire those of our masters who have been silenced, their mouths full of dirt! Then our tributes come naturally, tributes that they may have waited all their lives to hear. But do you know why we are always fairer and more generous towards the dead? The reason is simple! We have no obligation where they're concerned! They leave us free, we can take our time, fit the tribute into the interval between cocktails and a nice mistress, in other words, lost moments. If they did oblige us to do anything, it would be to remember, and our memories are short. No, what we like in our friends is fresh death, painful death, our own feelings, in short, ourselves!

- Albert Camus, The Fall

Apr 22, 2011

What Are Poets For?

"The poet in the time of the world's night must utter the holy."

- Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

Sisyphus's Fate

Two weeks now I have been hiding in my cave, once again, reading books. Two weeks later, today, I find myself on the edge of a new cliff, higher than any which I've climbed onto before. With this depth confronting me, I am once again to bid farewell to the familiar world. Goodbye, world, goodbye! I have nothing to give to you that which you want from me. What I have is nothing that you need; what you have is nothing that I need. Hence I will now jump into the maddening depths of the soul again. Like Sisyphus, who is chained to his eternal task of rolling a rock up a hill only to have it roll back down nearing its finale, so will I climb my cliffs only to throw myself off the edges. I have no more dignity to offer you: what remains of it, please, let me hold on to it if only to offer myself a little pride for my despicable fate.

What is worse than an eternal recurrence is to regain consciousness of your existence.

Apr 14, 2011

坏人情歌 II

你是好人 也是个坏人 对我坦诚 只为了朝他狂奔
不能放任 所以放了 这点痛我还能忍
我是好人 也是个坏人 分得够狠 你才有借口转身
宁愿爱一点不剩 也不忍看恋人爱成路人

- 坏人 也是好人 -

Apr 12, 2011


这样的夜 热闹的街 问你想到了谁紧紧锁眉
我的喜悲 随你而飞 擦了又湿的泪与谁相对

- 我是坏人 -

Apr 6, 2011

to become

There are merely eight more chapters to the end of Homer's Odyssey before I once again take on James Joyce's Ulysses, which bears the same name to the former tale but is a modern interpretation of it, totally different in every way. The classic epic focuses on Odysseus' heroic return to Ithaca after a ten-year exile brought upon by the wrath of the gods for his seige on Troy; Joyce's modern rewrite takes place over the span of a single day and features the lives of ordinary struggling mortals as its protagonists: Stephen Dedalus as Telemachus who - in the original epic goes on a journey to search for his father Odysseus - searches for a father figure; Leopold Bloom as Odysseus who, unlike the godlike hero, is just an ordinary man going about his business; and Molly Bloom as Penelope who, unlike the faithful wife of Odysseus, has affairs with other men. Joyce's Ulysses goes against every understanding of the hero's journey; it is its complete anti-thesis - the anti-hero's journey - which, including his genius of giving every chapter its own literary style, turning it into a novelty more than a novel - makes this the (supposedly) greatest piece of work written in the last century.

So here, here, Jack Kerouac speaks of On The Road. For the sake of a common word, a man sacrifices himself.

Apr 5, 2011


过路人, 你走遍天涯是为了寻找什么? 一个家? 一份真情? 一线光? 那年夏天我们还在守着一些纯真梦想。 那天光线十足, 天空蔚蓝, 微风清晰, 你说我们不得不长大, 必需自己去走遍这条路才能够成长。 我也独自背起背包, 到过不少地方, 看过不少稀景, 遇到不少过客, 这天总算又是回到原点。 天空还是一样蔚蓝, 阳光还是一样温暖, 我们却也老了、 成熟了许多。 你也变得更陌生了, 我们现在也只不过都是过路人。 我来到曾经一起许下心愿的地方, 是一样的梦想, 却是不一样的感触。 流星还是一样遥远, 那是我们一生中能够追寻到的吗?

Apr 3, 2011

remember, remember

One forgets why one drinks. What have I written these days? I've written nothing. The paper white, the pencils sharpened, untouched. Remember! Remember, dear traveler, why you drink. It is not to be found on the path that lies ahead - it is on the one that lies between sky and earth. Remember.

"You will write," [Gertrude Stein] said, "if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting. Yes, before in a thought, but not in careful thinking. It will come if it is there and if you will let it come, and if you have anything you will get a sudden creative recognition. You won't know how it was, even what it is, but it will be creation if it came out of the pen and out of you and not out of an architectural drawing of the thing you are doing. Technique is not so much a thing of form or style as the way that form or style came and how it can come again."

- John Hyde Preston