Sunday, September 12, 2010

A hand, a mourning


Barthes' Hand from the New Yorker.

As readers will know the Hound has been thinking of elegy and of mourning for some time now. Have encountered Anne Carson's Nox--lots to say about that text, but little of it to do with either of those notions. Better to encounter Nathalie Stephens, or Roland Barthes. I came across the following excerpts from Barthes in this week's New Yorker, translated by Richard Howard. They come closest for me, to what this year has been. Which is something like this: there is a tooth missing. My tongue goes there, to where the gap should be, tender, expecting the sharpness associated with broken teeth, but there is no gap. The tooth is there. It is solid. Still the pain resonates, and the tongue insists.

Here's Barthes:
October 29th  
In the sentence, "She's no longer suffering," to what, to whom does "she" refer? What does that present tense mean? 
November 5th 
Sad afternoon. Shopping. Purchase (frivolity) of a tea cake at the bakery. Taking care of the customer ahead of me, the girl behind the counter says Voilà. The expression I used when I brought maman something, when I was taking care of her.  Once, toward the end, half-conscious, she repeated, faintly, Voilà“I’m here,” a word we used with each other all our lives). The word spoken by the girl at the bakery brought tears to my eyes. I kept on crying quite a while back in the silent apartment. November 9th —Less and less to write, to say, except this (which I can tell no one). November 11th Solitude = having no one at home to whom you can say, I’ll be back at a specific time, or whom you can call to say (or to whom you can just say), Voilà, I’m home now. 
April 3rd 
Despair: the word is too theatrical, a part of the language. A stone. 
June 15th 
Everything began all over again immediately: arrival of manuscripts, requests, people’s stories, each person mercilessly pushing ahead his own little demand (for love, for gratitude): no sooner has she departed than the world deafens me with its continuance.

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