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PHI

September 11, 2014

I have made my life’s sole purpose and end the crafting of the highest form of futility; I have gathered and distilled the useless with an eye to manifesting the pointlessness of it all.

PHH

September 10, 2014

His hand rested coffee on saucer, and, so, it all came down to this, the last hour’s vapid summary of Hegel distilled to a single bon mot. Humanity’s gift and curse, to make of something other than what it is, reward and scourge.

Translation 18

September 9, 2014

Extrait de Les eaux étroites, Julien Gracq, 1976, pp. 47-49:

 

Une telle rêverie s’éveille surtout à certains moments d’exception, portée, propulsée par le flux d’énergie que libère la réanimation par la mémoire d’objets ou de paysages auxquels s’est attachée pour nous autrefois une tonalité affective violente, comme si cette mémoire en les ressuscitant disposait soudain sur eux d’un pouvoir magique de fission. Le nom de Proust est lié à la résurrection d’un fragment aboli du passé par l’intermédiaire d’une retrouvaille d’objet. Mais ce désenchaînement soudain par le souvenir d’un génie prisonnier de la matière, comme ces esprits qu’une fée méchante met en bouteille, bien plus souvent que du quiétisme de l’illumination proustienne, c’est d’une fugue allègre et enfiévrée qu’il est pour moi le moteur et le principe: à son étincelle ranimée, les images chères et longtemps obscurcies – toutes les images – s’enflamment et vont se rallumant l’une à l’autre; un tracé pyrotechnique zigzague au travers du monde assoupi et le sillonne en éclair en suivant les clivages secrets qui, année après année – d’une expérience, d’une lecture, d’une rencontre essentielle à une autre – l’ont marquée pour toujours à mon chiffre personnel. La vertu du seul contact vrai retrouvé avec ce qui m’a captivé quelque part une fois ranimant, réveillant et joignant par un chemin de foudre tout ce que j’ai aimé jamais.

=

Such a reverie awakens above all at certain exceptional moments, carried and propulsed by the stream of energy freed by the resuscitation by memory of things or landscapes to which, for us, has forever been attached a violent, affective tonality, as if this memory in again breathing life into them suddenly held over them a magical power of fission. Proust’s name is linked to the resurrection of a done away with fragment of the past by the intermediary of a thing’s rediscovery. But this sudden unchaining by memory of a spirit held prisoner within matter, like those spirits trapped in a bottle by a spiteful fairy, is much more often the motor and principle of a lighthearted and feverish fugue than of the quietism of Proustian illumination: at its awakened spark, images dear and long since darkened – all images – burst alight and go along rekindling from one to another; a pyrotechnic trail zigzags across a drowsing world and furrows it in a flash by following secret rifts which, year after year – of some experience, of some reading, of some meeting essential to another – have marked it forevermore with my personal seal. The virtue of the sole true contact, now found again, with that which enthralled me somewhere and at some time, resuscitating, awakening and joining by a lightning path all that I have ever loved.

Translation 17

September 8, 2014

Extrait de Les eaux étroites, Julien Gracq, 1976, pp. 45-47:

Bizarrement, dans cette rêverie associative très libre née de l’eau morte qui reflète les à-pics de la Roche qui Boit, l’élément liquide a peu à peu cédé la place au feu. Non que son courant ait été infidèle à l’élément originel. Mais la rêverie n’est pas toujours et de bout en bout matérielle, liée qu’elle est, comme le pense Gaston Bachelard (elle l’est sans doute le plus souvent) à quelque génie élementaire qui s’éveillerait dans la matière comme son coeur noir. La rêverie fascinée – la plus exclusive, la plus obsédante de toutes – conduit sans doute par un chemin descendant, selon une pesanteur spécifique, vers ces régions frontières où l’esprit se laisse engluer par le monde, et presque intégrer dans un de ses règnes. Mais il existe une autre rêverie, plus rare, à laquelle sont liés d’autres privilèges et que signale presque toujours le sentiment de liberté, et souvent d’ubiquité foudroyante qui s’attache aux plus beaux rêves de vol: rêverie ascensionnelle tendant, non vers l’indistinction finale et vers la sécurité de l’élément, mais plutôt vers la totale liberté d’association qui remet sans trêve dans le jeu les significations et les images: son climat exclusif est la vitesse, et son trajet d’élection le court-circuit. Une légèreté iréelle, un certain sentiment de bonheur aussi dans la légèreté auquel rien ne ressemble, dès qu’on s’y engage s’empare de l’esprit: comme si une perspective sans fond de trapèzes volants aux oscillations miraculeusement conjuguées faisaient danser devant lui tous les chemins de l’air.

=

Strangely, in this highly free, associative reverie born of the dead water reflecting the Drinking Rock’s sheer sides, the liquid element has little by little given way to fire. Not that its current has been unfaithful to the original element. But this reverie is not always and from one end to another material, linked as it is, as Gaston Bachelard would have it (it is most often undoubtedly just that), to some elementary spirit which would awaken as the black heart in matter. Fascinated reverie – the most exclusive, the most haunting of all – leads doubtlessly by a downward path, according to some specific heaviness, towards those border areas where the mind lets itself be swallowed up by the world and practically integrated into one of its kingdoms. But there exists another reverie, rarer, to which are linked still other privileges and which is almost always heralded by the feeling of freedom and, often, of striking ubiquity which fastens upon the most beautiful dreams of flight: an upward reverie tending, not towards the final indistinction and the safety of the element, but rather towards that total freedom of association which forever brings back into play meanings and images: its exclusive atmosphere is speed and its route of choice the short-circuit. An unreal lightness, a certain feeling of happiness in lightness, which nothing resembles, takes hold of the mind as soon as one commits to this reverie: as if a bottomless view onto flying trapezes miraculously swinging in time with one another made all the paths of the air dance before the mind.

Fr. 563

September 5, 2014

To what does the principal difference between Metz and Nancy owe? It is not simply a matter of Nancy’s buildings having seemingly been drained of color over time nor the more pronounced presence of the Baroque in the streets and squares. Rather, the question is one of axis or axes, with which Nancy abounds. In this way, the element of chance has been systematically sought out and stifled from street to street and neighborhood to neighborhood. Where Nancy has a defined center, Metz writhes, for no such center can be fixed. The axes nancéiens open up new avenues of sight and bind one end to another, all of which lends the whole a thoroughly rigid, well-defined cast. In the lines of sight hide unseen lines of mastery or, worse, domination. Metz’s uneven, staggered growth precludes such lines to the point of obscuring them. In obscuring, it frees.

To borrow from Deleuze’s rich terminology, we might conclude that, wedded as Nancy is to arboresence and the model of the tree, so is Metz to the rhizomatic or the free network. Architecture contains within itself a proto-philosophy of sorts.

PHG

September 4, 2014

On even the greatest homes and sweeping villas brought forth by Art Nouveau, one cannot wholly conceal the merely functional, the unaesthetic blemish, as with this handle, a key to stop the flow of gas to the home. Hidden behind the Villa Majorelle though it is, the seeker will come upon it and the plate glass and iron mesh sheltering it. Here can be found an element that the total art was unable to incorporate, a place that its transformative energies were unable to reach and turn to its own ends.

 

PHF

September 3, 2014

Electric kettle in hand, I pivot in place before the window streaming with afternoon sunlight. I marvel. When turned about on itself, the kettle catches the light in its metal surface and scatters it in glints to all sides. In time with my steps and the shifting kettle, bands of reflected light whirl, stripe the tiling and open up a glass sphere around me, from inside of which I watch the afternoon dilate and contract and dilate.

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