January 2010


So I have no peroration or clarion note on which to close. Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the “transcendent” and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.

Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens

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Sydney – the dodgy end of Newtown – King Street – near the start-up designer shops with no merchandise – next door to the antique store that sells second-hand pre-loved dolls – above the crummy convenience store on the corner – you’ll find the home of PENGUIN plays ROUGH.

Photo by Lucy Parakhina

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I break open my sealed-off flesh. I want to live in my veins, in the marrow of my bones, in the labyrinth of my skull. I withdraw into my intestines. I take refuge in my shit, my blood. Somewhere bodies are being broken, so that I can live in my shit. Somewhere bodies are being carved open, so that I can be alone with my blood. My thoughts are wounds in my brain. My brain is a wound. I want to be a machine. Arms to grasp legs to walk no pain no thoughts.

Hamletmachine, Heiner Müller

The chattering of the monkeys has died away. What a relief. What silence. What peace. A peace that summons the memory of other blue skies, other diminutive clouds scudding eastwards before the wind, and how they filled my spirit with boredom. Yellow streets and blue skies. As one approached the centre of the city, the streets gradually lost that awful yellow colour and turned into neat, grey steely streets, although I knew that the slightest scratch would reveal yellow under the grey. And that filled my soul not only with lassitude but also with boredom, or maybe the lassitude began to turn into boredom, heaven knows, in any case there came a time of yellow streets and luminous blue skies and deep boredom, during which my poetic activity ceased, or rather my poetic activity underwent a dangerous mutation, since I did not actually stop putting pen to paper, but the poems were full of insults and blasphemy and worse, and I had the good sense to destroy them as soon as the sun came up the next day, without showing them to anyone, although at the time many would have considered it an honour to see them, poems whose deep meaning, or at least the meaning I thought I glimpsed in their depths, left me in a state of perplexity and anguish all day long. And this state of perplexity and anguish was accompanied by a state of boredom and exhaustion. Monumental boredom and exhaustion. The perplexity and anguish were small by comparison, and lived encrusted in some cranny of the general state of boredom and exhaustion. Like a wound within a wound.

By Night in Chile, Roberto Bolaño

Still the vague certitude remained, as my trolley was wheeled down the corridor, a forest-green corridor with stretches of camouflage and bottle green, toward an operating room dilating in time, as History announced its birth with raucous cries and the doctors diagnosed my anemia in whispers, but how are they going to operate for anemia, I wondered. I barely managed to whisper, Am I going to have a baby, doctor? The doctors looked down at me, wearing their green bank-robber’s masks, and said. No, as the trolley accelerated on its way down the corridor that was writhing like a loose vein. I’m not going to have a baby, really? I’m not pregnant? I asked. No, Ma’am, we’re just taking you to attend the birth of History. But what’s the hurry, Doctor? I feel dizzy! And the doctors replied with the patter they use on the dying: The birth of History can’t wait, and if we arrive late you won’t see anything, only ruins and smoke, an empty landscape, and you’ll be alone again forever even if you go out and get drunk with your poet friends every night. Well, let’s get a move on then, I said. The anesthesia was going to my head, overwhelming me as homesickness sometimes does, and I stopped asking questions (for a while).

Amulet, Roberto Bolaño

…I found myself thinking about happiness, just like that, the happiness possibly hidden under the crusts of filth in that apartment, and when you’re happy or sense that happiness may be imminent you’re not afraid to look at yourself in mirrors, indeed, when you’re happy or feel predestined for happiness, you tend to lower your guard and face up to mirrors, out of curiosity, I guess, or because you’re feeling good in your skin, as the Frenchified citizens of Montevideo used to say (may God grant them some remnant of health).

Amulet, Roberto Bolaño

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