who are you, little i

who are you, little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window; at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling: that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

e.e. cummings



a man sits and watches the world

From the window a man watches the world. That's how it always begins. Through this interminable waiting. A man sitting, and watching. For years, maybe centuries. Before even the window and the unmoving body. He is like a pure regard that is embodied each time in the singularity of every new gaze. But, at the same time, what he sees does not reach him. It is as if the dawns and dusks, the seasons slow or fast, nature, things and people glide across the glass, abandoning him to his motionless solitude. Then, leaving the fascinating spectacle, his eye returns to the page where his hands occasionally trace a few more uncertain lines. At that moment he seems to perceive a sudden accord: the one between his fragile human span and the absolute instant of the world. Upon raising his eyes anew, rediscovering the lost vision, the feeling of an irreparable distance — of a tiny wound. A feeling of being there and of not being there. Could that be beauty? he asks himself. And writing, this desire to repair, each time, the imperceptible tear? To regather into a loose weave of words these scattered figures of fate and make of them a single tangible moment. Such that covered, erased by the flow of words, the world would end up being reborn, emerging from this very movement that first annulled it and that, now, offers it this vivacity of which it had just appeared to be deprived. Yes, writing would first be that: sitting to see the world rise within the light of language. And, in an almost mute voice — a breath caused by the words and which bears them  never ceasing to celebrate this beauty, repeating like a silent prayer this simple phrase of Beckett's: "I watch time pass and it is so beautiful."

De la fenêtre un homme regarde le monde. C’est toujours comme ça que cela commence. Par cette attente interminable. Un homme assis, et qui regarde. Depuis des années, des siècles peut-être. Avant même la fenêtre et le corps immobile. Il est comme un pur regarder qui chaque fois s’incarnerait dans la singularité de chaque nouveau regard. Mais, en même temps, ce qu’il voit ne l’atteint pas. C’est comme si les aubes et les crépuscules, les saisons lentes ou rapides, la nature les choses et les hommes glissaient sur la vitre, l’abandonnaient à son immobile solitude. Alors, quittant le fascinant spectacle, ses yeux reviennent à la page où ses mains tracent de temps à autre quelques lignes incertaines. A ce moment il lui semble percevoir comme un accord soudain: celui de sa fragile durée humaine et de l’instant absolu du monde. Avec, dès que ses yeux se lèvent à nouveau, retrouvant la vision perdue, le sentiment d’un irrémédiable écart — d’une infime blessure. Un sentiment d’y être et de n’y être pas. Serait-ce cela la beauté? se demande-t-il. Et écrire, ce désir à chaque fois de réparer l’imperceptible accroc? De recueillir dans un léger tissage des paroles ces figures éparses du devenir et les rendre un instant solidaires. De telle sorte que recouvert, effacé par l’afflux de mots, le monde finirait par venir y renaître, surgissant de ce mouvement même qui d’abord l’a annulé et qui, maintenant, lui offre cette vivacité dont jusque là il paraissait privé. Oui, écrire ce serait d’abord cela: s’asseoir pour voir se lever le monde dans le jour du langage. Et, d’une voix presque muette — d’un souffle engendré par les mots et qui les porte —, ne cesser de célébrer cette beauté, répétant comme une prière muette cette phrase si simple de Beckett : “Je regarde passer le temps et c’est si beau.” 

Jacques Ancet
(English translation by Michael Tweed)


at a window

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Carl Sandburg, 1914



the distant window witness

The gentlemen sat K. down on the ground, leant him against the stone and settled his head down on the top of it. Despite all the effort they went to, and despite all the co-operation shown by K., his demeanour seemed very forced and hard to believe. So one of the gentlemen asked the other to grant him a short time while he put K. in position by himself, but even that did nothing to make it better. In the end they left K. in a position that was far from the best of the ones they had tried so far. Then one of the gentlemen opened his frock coat and from a sheath hanging on a belt stretched across his waistcoat he withdrew a long, thin, double-edged butcher's knife which he held up in the light to test its sharpness. The repulsive courtesies began once again, one of them passed the knife over K. to the other, who then passed it back over K. to the first. K. now knew it would be his duty to take the knife as it passed from hand to hand above him and thrust it into himself. But he did not do it, instead he twisted his neck, which was still free, and looked around. He was not able to show his full worth, was not able to take all the work from the official bodies, he lacked the rest of the strength he needed and this final shortcoming was the fault of whoever had denied it to him. As he looked round, he saw the top floor of the building next to the quarry. He saw how a light flickered on and the two halves of a window opened out, somebody, made weak and thin by the height and the distance, leant suddenly far out from it and stretched his arms out even further. Who was that? A friend? A good person? Somebody who was taking part? Somebody who wanted to help? Was he alone? Was it everyone? Would anyone help? Were there objections that had been forgotten? There must have been some. The logic cannot be refuted, but someone who wants to live will not resist it. Where was the judge he'd never seen? Where was the high court he had never reached? He raised both hands and spread out all his fingers.

But the hands of one of the gentleman were laid on K.'s throat, while the other pushed the knife deep into his heart and twisted it there, twice. As his eyesight failed, K. saw the two gentlemen cheek by cheek, close in front of his face, watching the result. "Like a dog!" he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him.

Kafka, The Trial


the afternoon

Bodu Yang
acrylic on canvas, 11"x11"