Obsession or Two Men at Sea (an excerpt from a text of Paul Valéry translated by Vadim Bystritski) — Before and After Francis Ponge

All day long, I wandered around the city and its port. This simple and plain walking can excite the dreamer. No matter if he accelerates or slows down, it changes nothing for him. Madness, no matter whether good or evil is hiding behind it, will bend to its will the law of equal steps. Only yesterday, I knew the happiness of being divinely transported by what sings and creatively delivers. Now I had to flee my thoughts. I had been bearing it until I was ready to die of frustration, anger, affection, and impotence. My hands were dreaming. Unnoticed, they took, folded and contorted shapes and acts — so crisp and deadly. And at every moment I was everywhere where I was not, and I saw everything replaced by something that made me moan.

Nothing is more creative than an incarnated venomous idea whose sting will push life against life before pushing it out of life. This venomous idea continuously elaborates, retouches and reanimates innumerable stories of hope and despair. These stories by far surpass reality. I’d been walking for some time now, knowing well that being carried by my exasperated soul doesn’t bother the atrocious insect that had inflicted upon my soul a burning wound. The ardent tip had abolished the value of all visible things. That’s why I remained unfazed by the sun and radiant ground I was walking upon. Objects could only contradict or irritate my preoccupations. I noticed the passerby less than their shadows. I could only stare at what was above my head or under my feet. The route led to the sea. A light beam from a lighthouse zoomed over the trees’ voluminous foliage. To my eyes this immense and pure panel of most tender color appeared naked and tense. And while the trees were rocking the breeze and the searchlight was sweeping over their subtle and gilded mass, I heard a voice coming from the bottom of my heart and calling me a fool and lunatic.

L’idée fixe ou deux hommes à la mer.

Je me mis à errer presque tout le jour, à battre la ville et le port. Mais la marche simple et plane ne fait qu’exciter ce qui songe : il la presse, il la ralentit: il n’en est point gêné. La loi des pas égaux se plie à tous les délires, et porte également nos démons et nos dieux. Jadis, j’avais connu le mouvement de l’invention heureuse et le transport d’un corps vivement mené par ce qui chante et s’enfante divinement. Je fuyais à présent devant mes pensées. Je portais ça et là de quoi mourir de dépit, de fureur, de tendresse et d’impuissance. Mes mains rêvaient; prenaient, tordaient; créaient à mon insu des formes et des actes; et je les retrouvait crispées et meurtrières. Et j’étais à chaque instant où je n’étais point; et je voyais, à la place de toute chose, tout ce qu’il fallait pour gémir.

Quoi de plus inventif qu’une idée incarnée et envenimée dont l’aiguillon pousse la vie contre la vie hors de la vie? Elle retouche et ranime sans cesse toutes les scènes et les fables inépuisables de l’espoir et du désespoir, avec une précision toujours croissante, et qui passe de loin la précision finie de toute réalité. Je marchais, je marchais; et je sentais bien que cet emportement par l’âme exaspérée n’inquiétait pas l’atroce insecte qui entretenait dans la chair de mon esprit une brûlure indivisible de mon existence. L’ardente pointe abolissait toute valeur de chose visible. Le soleil ni le sol éclatant ne m’éblouissaient. Les objets contrariaient, irritaient mes soucis; et je percevais les passants un peu moins que leurs ombres sur la route. Je ne pouvais fixer que la terre ou le ciel. Cette route allait à la mer. La lanterne d’un phare étincelait au-dessus des feuillages. Une immense et pure paroi, de la plus tendre couleur, m’apparut nue et tendue à la hauteur de mes yeux, au delà des masses souples et dorées de beaux arbres que berçait la brise de terre; et quelqu’un dans mon coeur me traita de fou et de sot.

Examine the figure of the female flâneuse in Virginia Woolf’s work, with particular focus on Mrs Dalloway. — rachelisinthewrongera

Introduction The term ‘flâneuse’ can be attributed to females who engage in flânerie: the act of observing the city whilst walking.[1] They know themselves to be one of the public, yet they are the binary opposite to the engaged pedestrian – they are a passive spectator.[2] Until the latter half of the nineteenth century, flânerie […]

via Examine the figure of the female flâneuse in Virginia Woolf’s work, with particular focus on Mrs Dalloway. — rachelisinthewrongera

Succubations & Incubations Selected Letters of Antonin Artaud (1945-1947)


This selection of letters (1945-1947) from Artaud’s consummate work, Suppôts et Suppliciations [Henchmen and Torturings] translated into English for the first time, provides readers with a vivid, uniquely intimate view of Artaud’s final years. They show Artaud at his most exposed, and they are perhaps his most explosive, tragic, sad, even humorous. Each of the correspondents that came into contact with Artaud during this time were in their own way deeply affected since his project was essentially an “attack / on the mind of the public.”

Commenting on and elaborating key themes from his earlier writing, while venturing into new territory, Artaud recounts his torture and violation in asylums, his crucifixion two thousand years ago in Golgotha, his deception by occult initiates and doubles, and his intended journey to Tibet, where, aided by his “daughters of the heart,” he will finally put an end to these “maneuvers of obscene bewitchment.” Artaud also speaks of his plan to create a “body without organs” and extends this idea to the visual arts, where he argues that painting and drawing must wage a ceaseless battle against the limits of representation.

The apocalyptic vision for mankind that led Artaud on a journey, beginning in Mexico in 1936 and ending, tragically, in Ireland in 1937, with a mental breakdown, silence, and long internment in asylums, concluded with the extremely prolific late period from which these letters were drawn. There is an unmistakable unity of vision that permeates the letters: the vision of an unceasing, ubiquitous, and malignant plot “to close the mouth of lucidity” by any means, and which must be resisted at all costs.


Translated by Peter Valente & Cole Heinowitz

With an introduction by Jay Murphy

Illustrated by Martin Bladh and Karolina Urbaniak


Airport — Liminal Narratives

In an endlessly fascinating essay – Non-places: an introduction to super modernity – Marc Augé contrasts anthropological place (any space bearing the inscriptions of the social bond or collective history, such as churches, market places and town halls) with non-places. Described as spaces of circulation, consumption and communication, they are the places we inhabit when […]

via Airport — Liminal Narratives