"On April 20, 1970, the poet Paul Celan left his home in Paris, walked to a bridge over the River Seine, and jumped to his death. He left a biography of Hölderlin open on his desk, with the following words underlined: Sometimes this genius goes dark and sinks down into the bitter well of his heart.
The sentence does not end there. Celan chose not to underline the rest: but mostly his apocalyptic star glitters wondrously."
Maggie Nelson, The Red Parts: a Memoir
I've never really met anyone else who oscillates so frequently and fervently between an intense desire for anonymity, to disappear even, and to crack oneself open entirely for the whole world to see. To be the maximum version of oneself in public, consequences be damned.
A friend of mine compared what has happened over recent years to a café. We enter it and search for a space in which we can sit with our friends and chat. But as time progresses, the café’s walls get smaller and smaller and the chat of others louder and louder. You begin to hear all manner of conversations that you otherwise wouldn’t care about: things which, frankly, you shouldn’t be listening to. This leads to frustration. It becomes increasingly difficult to escape the noise and re-center yourself on what actually matters to you.
Italo Calvino’s description of life as an inferno in Invisible Cities comes to mind;
The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.
26 blocks • 4 months ago