the curtain of obscurity

A vast bitterness seemed to inspire these images, images I understood very well as referring to what had begun to play out before my eyes, the curtain of obscurity now lifted--the spectacle that for many nights now he could not observe without sorrow. The studio windows that opened onto the wall perpendicular to his and the rear windows of the building that faced onto the street all lit up almost simultaneously once the sun had passed, although the shred of sky visible from the well was still light. Many of the windows had no curtains, at least, no one bothered to close any. The astonishing variety of life was displayed there. 'An unacceptable waste of gestures, of words, an incoherent mix of differences and similarities, endless complication, a boiler bursting with screams . . .' I don't know which I found more painful: seeing these vague silhouettes behind windows, some furtive, others immobile for long stretches of time (the studios were so small that empty windows were rare), each making its own gestures, imperfect, fragmentary, discordant, mysterious; or hearing that voice, barely audible and once in a while suddenly hard and almost shrill, commenting on the spectacle which, in truth, was no spectacle since these shadows were in all likelihood alive.

Philippe Jaccottet, Obscurity, pg. 25
tr. Tess Lewis