Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Conquered City

Only yesterday countless lights were burning along these banks inside rooms where the power, the wealth, and the pleasure of others reigned. We put out those lights, brought back primordial night. That night is our work. That night is us. We have entered it in order to destroy it. Each of us has entered it, perhaps never to leave it So many harsh, terrible tasks must be done; tasks which demand the disappearance of their performers. Let those who come after us forget us. Let them be different from us. Thus what is best in us will be reborn in them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Novels are like cities: some are organised and laid out with the colour-coded clarity of public transport maps, with each chapter marking a progress from one station to the next, until all the characters have been successfully carried to their thematic terminus. Others, the subtler, wiser ones, offer no such immediately readable route maps. Instead of a journey through the city, they throw you into the city itself, and life itself: you are expected to find your own way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

All sorts of things in the world behave like mirrors.

The Book of Disquiet

We never know self-realization. We are two abysses - a well staring at the sky.

Diaries 1912-14

When I say something, this thing immediately and definitively loses its importance. When I write it down, it also loses it, but sometimes gains another importance.
If I had even the slightest grasp upon my own faculties, I would not make essays, I would make decisions.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Melville in a letter to Hawthorne, June 1851

I am like one of those seeds taken out of the Egyptian Pyramids, which, after being three thousand years a seed and nothing but a seed, being planted in English soil, it developed itself, grew to greenness, and then fell to mould. So I. Until I was twenty-five, I had no development at all. From my twenty-fifth year I date my life. Three weeks have scarcely passed, at any time between then and now, that I have not unfolded within myself. But I feel that I am now come to the inmost leaf of the bulb, and that shortly the flower must fall to the mould.

On being 20

I remember myself at that age, and I think I was a really horrible person— and all my friends were horrible too. It’s a really bad age for men.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Art of Fiction

In the old days I knew I had to dredge my subconscious, and the nouns did this. I learned this early on. Three things are in your head: First, everything you have experienced from the day of your birth until right now. Every single second, every single hour, every single day. Then, how you reacted to those events in the minute of their happening, whether they were disastrous or joyful. Those are two things you have in your mind to give you material. Then, separate from the living experiences are all the art experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve learned from other writers, artists, poets, film directors, and composers. So all of this is in your mind as a fabulous mulch and you have to bring it out. How do you do that? I did it by making lists of nouns and then asking, What does each noun mean? You can go and make up your own list right now and it would be different than mine. The night. The crickets. The train whistle. The basement. The attic. The tennis shoes. The fireworks. All these things are very personal. Then, when you get the list down, you begin to word-associate around it. You ask, Why did I put this word down? What does it mean to me? Why did I put this noun down and not some other word? Do this and you’re on your way to being a good writer. You can’t write for other people. You can’t write for the left or the right, this religion or that religion, or this belief or that belief. You have to write the way you see things. I tell people, Make a list of ten things you hate and tear them down in a short story or poem. Make a list of ten things you love and celebrate them. When I wrote Fahrenheit 451 I hated book burners and I loved libraries. So there you are.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

On dealing drugs.

1. Never give anything away for nothing.
2. Never give more than you have to (always catch the buyer hungry and always make him wait).
3. Always take back everything if you possibly can.

Journal du voleur

I was veiled in a great sadness which was pierced at times by the lightning of my rage. Loneliness, torn apart for a moment by hope, closed over me again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


In those days Ansky thought it wouldn't be long before the revolution spread all over the world, because only an idiot or a nihilist could fail to see or sense the potential it held for progress and happiness. Ultimately, thought Ansky, the revolution would abolish death.

When Ivanov told him that this was impossible, that death had been with man from time immemorial, Ansky said that was precisely it, the whole point, maybe the only thing that mattered, abolishing death, abolishing it forever, immersing ourselves in the unknown until we found something else. Abolishment, abolishment, abolishment.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

What Is To Be Done?

We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are “free” to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!
The secret of good old-age is none other than an honest pact with solitude.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The University of Santa Teresa was like a cemetery that suddenly begins to think, in vain. It was also like an empty dance club.

Michel Foucault

I don't write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Idiot

Why is it that when you awake to the world of realities you nearly always feel, sometimes very vividly, that the vanished dream has carried with it some enigma which you have failed to solve?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Italo Calvino

The word connects the visible trace with the invisible thing... Like a frail emergency bridge flung over an abyss.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On Joyce and writing

I realized that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more, [being] in control of one’s material. He was always adding to it; you only have to look at his proofs to see that. I realized that my own way was in impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away, in subtracting rather than in adding.

Sugar Street

It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The writer writes his book to try to explain to himself what’s beyond his comprehension.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yukio Mishima

True beauty is something that attacks, overpowers, robs, and finally destroys.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Learn to love solitude – to be more alone with yourselves. The problem with young people is their carrying out noisy and aggressive actions not to feel lonely – and this is a sad thing – the individual must learn to be on his own as a child – for this doesn’t mean to be alone: it means not get bored with oneself which is a very dangerous symptom, almost a disease.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


"I’ll kill myself!” he notified me when his misery seemed too great to bear. And yet he managed to bear his misery a little longer, like a weight that was much too heavy and infinitely useless, misery on a road where he met no one to whom he could speak of it, it was just too big and complicated. He couldn’t have explained this misery of his, it exceeded his education

Monday, February 13, 2012

Roberto Bolaño

Exile is courage. True exile is the true measure of each writer.

Last Evenings on Earth

That's what art is, he said, the story of a life in all its particularity. It's the only thing that really is particular and personal. It's the expression and, at the same time, the fabric of the particular. And what do you mean by the fabric of the particular? I asked, supposing he would answer: Art. I was also thinking, indulgently, that we were pretty drunk already and that it was time to go home. But my friend said: What I mean is the secret story.... The secret story is the one we'll never know, although we're living it from day to day, thinking we're alive, thinking we've got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn't matter. But every damn thing matters! It's just that we don't realize. We tell ourselves that art runs on one track and life, our lives, on another, we don't even realize that's a lie.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

South of the Border, West of the Sun

But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Canto 1

God grant that the reader, emboldened and having become at present as fierce as what he is reading, find, without loss of bearings, his way, his wild and treacherous passage through the desolate swamps of these sombre, poison-soaked pages; for, unless he should bring to his reading a rigorous logic and a sustained mental effort at least as strong as his distrust, the lethal fumes of this book shall dissolve his soul as water does sugar.

"Preface and Postscript to Rural Surveys"

Everyone engaged in practical work must investigate conditions at the lower levels. Such investigation is especially necessary for those who know theory but do not know the actual conditions, for otherwise they will not be able to link theory with practice. Although my assertion, "No investigation no right to speak", has been ridiculed as "narrow empiricism", to this day I do not regret having made it; far from regretting it, I still insist that without investigation there cannot possibly be any right to speak. There are many people who "the moment they alight from the official carriage" make a hullabaloo, spout opinions, criticize this and condemn that; but, in fact, ten out of ten of them will meet with failure. For such views or criticisms, which are not based on thorough investigation, are nothing but ignorant twaddle. Countless times our Party suffered at the hands of these "imperial envoys", who rushed here, there and everywhere. Stalin rightly says "theory becomes purposeless if it is not connected with revolutionary practice". And he rightly adds that "practice gropes in the dark if its path is not illumined by revolutionary theory". Nobody should be labeled a "narrow empiricist" except the "practical man" who gropes in the dark and lacks perspective and foresight.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dead Souls

However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This tremendous world I have inside of me. How to free myself, and this world, without tearing myself to pieces. And rather tear myself to a thousand pieces than be buried with this world within me.