Thursday, June 28, 2007

so long, farewell, our feet are saying good night

we're going away for a while (some of us - everybody but me actually - are already gone), so here's the last posting for the next week and a half or so . . .

excerpts from Liquidation by Imre Kertesz (a.k.a. the last book I ever read):

"What he wanted to say was: He floated like a phantom albatross of unspotted whiteness on the ice gray ocean. But he conceded that he had no way of justifying the simile. He had been reading Moby Dick the previous evening, before falling asleep."

" . . . a person becomes a literary editor, and later a publisher's reader, out of error in the first place. In any event, literature is the trap that captures him. To be more precise, reading: reading as a narcotic which pleasantly blurs the merciless outlines of the life that holds sway over us. It started, perhaps, somewhere in university - with university friendships, in the course of those mammoth, deep, and meaningless conversations that stretch far into the night. A friend suddenly publishes a poem. Prior to that he had happened to hand it over for you to read, and you had dropped some great profundity regarding one of the couplets. In times, people get into the habit of regularly asking your opinion. You bustle self-importantly along corriders, a sheaf of other people's manuscripts pinned under your arm. A fastidiousness of some kind evolves within you, some kind of mental hygiene that is deemed infallible taste. The word gets around that you 'have a bent for literature,' as they say, and in the end you believe it yourself. You become editor of the university magazine."

"While I was listening to my wife - I recall it precisely - my attention was increasingly focused on her upper lip, that harmoniously arched, slightly short upper lip with which I had originally fallen in love, and I mused on what an absurd thing love is after all, that a person's entire frail life is founded on such absurdities. One fine day, we wake up with a stranger in the bedroom, I thought to myself, and never again do we find our way back to ourselves: Our impossible life is determined by chance, lust, and the whim of a moment, I thought to myself.
Our son in the meantime has grown up; his ambitious mother steered him toward the computerized future, and during our increasingly sporadic encounters I regretfully conclude that I have little to discuss with a computer expert, even though he may be on the brink of an extraordinary future; and if I'm not mistaken, my son likewise shows a certain reserve toward a father who is living the life of those now redundant intellectuals, as a literary editor in a city where, bit by bit, there is no longer any call for literature, let alone editors . . . "

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