Monthly Archives: September 2010

split (why rilke is so important)

In a letter to Arthur Fischer-Colbrie (December 18, 1925) Rilke wrote:
That a person who through the horrible obstructions of those years had felt himself split to the very depths of his soul, into a Once and an irreconcilable, dying Now: that such a person should experience the grace of perceiving how in yet more mysterious depths, beneath this torn-open split,the continuity of his work and of his spirit was being re-established—this seems to me more than just a private event. For with it, a measure is given for the inexhaustible stratification of our nature; and many people who, for one reason or another, believe that they have been torn apart, might draw special comfort from this example of continuability. (The thought occurs to
me that this comfort too may somehow have entered into the achievement of the great Elegies, so that they express themselves more completely than they could have done without endangerment and rescue.)

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death as yeasayer

Prejudiced as we are against death, we do not manage to release it from all its distorted images, it is a friend, our deepest friend, perhaps the only one who can never be misled by our attitudes and vacillations–and this, you must understand, not in the sentimental-romantic sense of life’s opposite, a denial of life: but our friend precisely when we most passionately, most vehemently, assent to being here, to living and working on earth, to Nature, to love. Life simultaneously says Yes and No. Death (I implore you to believe this!) is the true Yes-sayer. It says only Yes. In the presence of eternity.

Rilke to Countess Margot

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the search for an imagined center

Once, by suddenly becoming a beast which might be cast into the fire with impunity, I used to penetrate secrets of the first order. By the flash of light which divided me, by the stroke of my claw, I knew lies and crimes before they were committed.

Maurice Blanchot, Thomas the Obscure

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the angel and the puppet

‘We see that in the world of Nature, the dimmer and weaker intellect grows, the more radiantly and imperiously grace emerges. But just as a section drawn through two lines, considered from one given point, after passing through infinity, suddenly arrives on the other side of that point; or as the image in a concave mirror, after vanishing into infinity, suddenly reappears right in front of us; so grace too returns when knowledge has, as it were, gone through an infinity. Grace appears most purely in that human form in which consciousness is either nonexistent or infinite, i.e., in the marionette or in the god.’

‘Does that mean,’ I said, a bit bewildered, ‘that we must eat again of the Tree of Knowledge in order to fall back into the state of innocence?’

‘Certainly,’ he answered. ‘That is the last chapter in the history of the world.’

from Heinrich von Kleist’s essay ‘On the Marionette Theater’

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she who strives for purity

Sonnet 190

A doe of purest white upon green grass
wearing two horns of gold appeared to me
between two streams beneath a laurel’s shade
at sunrise in that season not yet ripe.

The sight of her was so sweetly austere
that I left all my work to follow her,
just like a miser who in search of treasure
with pleasure makes his effort bitterless.

‘No one touch me,’ around her lovely neck
was written out in diamonds and in topaz,
‘It pleased my Caesar to create me free.’

The sun by now had climbed the sky midway
my eyes were tired but not full from looking
when I fell into water, and she vanished.

Petrarch

 http://nessunmitochi.blogspot.com/

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subrisio saltat : acrobat’s smile

During the printing of the Elegies, Rilke explained this in a note on the proof sheets:

As if it were the label on a druggist’s urn; abbreviation of Subrisio Saltat(orum). The labels on these receptacles almost always appear in abbreviated form.

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others are entrusted

For the angel of the Elegies, all the towers and palaces of the past are existent because they have long been invisible, and the still-standing towers and bridges of our reality are already invisible, although still (for us) physically lasting….All the worlds in the universe are plunging into the invisible as into their next-deeper reality; a few stars intensify immediately and pass away into the infinite consciousness of the angels-, others are entrusted to beings who slowly and laboriously transform them, in whose terrors and delights they attain their next invisible realization. We, let it be emphasized once more, we, in the sense of the Elegies, are these transformers of the earth; our entire existence, the flights and plunges of our love, everything, qualifies us for this task (beside which there is, essentially, no other.)
Rilke to Witold Hulewicz, November 1925

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Trachyo Tygr

He says everybody at Bellvue is somebody who lost love somewhere along the line. The ones that love means the most to get sick, a lot of them die. It doesn’t take very long, either. (Saroyan, p. 152)

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