Quotes By Winter Journal

“You think it will never happen to you, that it cannot happen to you, that you are the only person in the world to whom none of these things will ever happen, and then, one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.”


“صحيح أن باطن قدميك مثبّت على الأرض، لكن كل ما تبقى منك معرّض للهواء”


“Writing begins in the body, it is the music of the body, and even if the words have meaning, can sometimes have meaning, the music of the words is where the meanings begin....Writing as a lesser form of dance.”


“عندما اكتب لا تهمني الغرفة التي أشغلها. المساحة الحقيقية للكتابة هي الصفحة أمام انفي، عندما اكتب كل الغرف تصبح خفيّة”


“Speak now before it is too late, and then hope to go on speaking until there is nothing more to be said.”


“But it would be wrong to say you were unhappy there, for you had no trouble adjusting to your reduced circumstances, you found it invigorating to learn that you could get by on almost nothing, and as long as you were able to write, it made no difference where or how you lived.”


“... as long as you continue to travel, the nowhere that lies between the here of home and the there of somewhere else will continue to be one of the places where you live.”


“People pushed by force of habit, pushed for the pure pleasure of pushing, and they would go on pushing until you showed them you were willing to push back, at which point you would earn their respect.”


“You realize now that she turned to you as a form of consolation, to give her life a meaning and a purpose it was otherwise lacking. You were the beneficiary of her unhappiness, and you were well loved, especially well loved, without question deeply loved. That first of all, that above and beyond everything else there might be to say: she was an ardent and dedicated mother to you during your infancy and early childhood, and whatever is good in you now, whatever strengths you might possess, come from that time before you can remember who you were.”


“بعد وفاة والدتك وتحت تأثير الويسكي وساعات طويلة من السهر.
بين الصحو والنوم تدرك بأنك لم تشعر بمثل هذا السوء من قبل، جسدك لم يعد الجسم الذي تملكه، هذا الشعور الغرائبي، بأنك ضُربت بمائة مطرقة خشبية. وسحبتك الخيول لمئات الأميال على طريق مليء بالاحجار والصبار، ثم تضاءلت إلى غبار بعد ضغطك بماكينة ضخمة.
دمك غارق في الكحول حتى أنك تشمّه من مساماتك. رائحة المكان حولك، انفاسك القذرة.
تودّ لو أمكنك التنازل عن عشرة أعوام من عمرك. كي تذهب في غفوة طويلة.”


“Always lost, always striking out in the wrong direction, always going around in circles. You have suffered from a life-long inability to orient yourself in space, and even in New York, the easiest of cities to negotiate, the city where you have spent the better part of your adulthood, you often run into trouble. Whenever you take the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan (assuming you have boarded the correct train and are not traveling deeper into Brooklyn), you make a special point to stop for a moment to get your bearings once you have climbed the stairs to the street, and still you will head north instead of south, go east instead of west, and even when you try to outsmart yourself, knowing that your handicap will set you going the wrong way and therefore, to rectify the error, you do the opposite of what you were intending to do, go left instead of right, go right instead of left, and still you find yourself moving in the wrong direction, no matter how many adjustments you have made. Forget tramping alone in the woods. You are hopelessly lost within minutes, and even indoors, whenever you find yourself in an unfamiliar building, you will walk down the wrong corridor or take the wrong elevator, not to speak of smaller enclosed spaces such as restaurants, for whenever you go to the men’s room in a restaurant that has more than one dining area, you will inevitably make a wrong turn on your way back and wind up spending several minutes searching for your table. Most other people, your wife included, with her unerring inner compass, seem to be able to get around without difficulty. They know where they are, where they have been, and where they are going, but you know nothing, you are forever lost in the moment, in the void of each successive moment that engulfs you, with no idea where true north is, since the four cardinal points do not exist for you, have never existed for you. A minor infirmity until now, with no dramatic consequences to speak of, but that doesn’t mean a day won’t come when you accidentally walk off the edge of a cliff.”


“Little by little, as you came to know her better in the weeks that followed, you discovered that eye to eye on nearly everything of any importance. Your politics were the same, most of the books you cared about were the same books, and you had familiar attitudes about what you wanted out of life: love, work, and children- with money and possessions far down on the list. Much to your relief, your personalities were nothing alike. She laughed more than you did, she was freer and more outgoing than you were, she was wormer than you were, and yet, all the way down at the bottom, at the nethermost point where you were joined together, you felt that you had met another version of yourself- but one that was more fully evolved than you were, better able to express what you kept bottled up inside you, a saner being. You adored her, and for the first time in your life, the person you adored adored you back. You came from entirely different worlds, a young Lutheran girl from Minnesota and a not so young Jew from New York, but just two and a half months after your chance encounter on February twenty-third thirty years ago, you decided to move in together. Until then, every decision you had made about women had been a wrong decision- but not this one.”


“Most other people, your wife included, with her unerring inner compass, seem to be able to get around without difficulty. They know where they are, where they have been, and where they are going, but you know nothing, you are forever lost in the moment, in the void of each successive moment that engulfs you, with no idea where true north is, since the four cardinal points do not exist for you, have never existed for you. A minor infirmity until now, with no dramatic consequences to speak of, but that doesn’t mean a day won’t come when you accidentally walk off the edge of a cliff.”


“At fifty-seven, I felt old. Now, at seventy-four, I feel much younger than I did then.”


“She seemed perfect to you, and even during her first attack of vertigo, which you happened to witness when you were six (the two of you climbing up the inner staircase of the Statue of Liberty), you were not alarmed, because she was a good and conscientious mother, and she managed to hide her fear from you by turning the descent into a game: sitting on the stairs together and going down one step at a time, asses on the rungs, laughing all the way to the bottom.”


“but such is the price you pay for leaving home, and as long as you continue to travel, the nowhere that lies between the here of home and the there of somewhere else will continue to be one of the places where you live.”


“Sami sebe sme vÅ¡etci cudzincami, a ak vôbec máme poňatie o tom, kto sme, je to iba preto, že žijeme v očiach druhých.”


“Such was life in France. People pushed by force of habit, pushed for the pure pleasure of pushing, and they would go on pushing until you showed them you were willing to push back, at which point you would earn their respect.”


“Spartan surroundings, yes, but surroundings have never been of any importance as far as your work is concerned, since the only space you occupy when you write your books is the page in front of your nose,”


“Your wife tolerates your weaknesses and does not rant or scold, and if she worries, it is only because she wants you to live forever. You count the reasons why you have held her close to you for so many years, and surely this is one of them, one of the bright stars in the vast constellation of enduring love.”


“The countless tight squeezes you have been in during the course of your life, the desperate moments when you have felt an urgent, overpowering need to empty your bladder and no toilet is at hand, the times when you have found yourself stuck in traffic, for example, or sitting on a subway stalled between stations, and the pure agony of forcing yourself to hold it in. This is the universal dilemma that no one ever talks about, but everyone has been there at one time or another, everyone has lived through it, and while there is no example of human suffering more comical that that of the bursting bladder, you tend not to laugh about these incidents until after you have managed to relieve yourself—for what person over the age of three would want to wet his pants in public? That is why you will never forget these words, which were the last words spoken to one of your friends by his dying father: “Just remember, Charlie,” he said, “never pass up an opportunity to piss.” And so the wisdom of the ages is handed down from one generation to the next.”


“One must die lovable (if one can). You are moved by this sentence, especially by the words in parentheses, which demonstrate a rare sensitivity of spirit, you feel, a hard-won understanding of how difficult it is to be lovable, especially for someone who is old, who is sinking into decrepitude and must be cared for by others. If one can. There is probably no greater human achievement than to be lovable at the end,”


“Επειδή δεν έχεις ιδέα από πού κατάγεσαι, εδώ και χρόνια υποθέτεις ότι είσαι μια σύνθεση όλων των φυλών του ανατολικού ημισφαιρίου, εν μέρει Αφρικανός, εν μέρει Άραβας, εν μέρει Κινέζος, εν μέρει Ινδός, εν μέρει Καυκάσιος, η χοάνη πολλών αντιμαχόμενων πολιτισμών σε ένα και μοναδικό σώμα. Αυτό, όσο τίποτα άλλο, είναι μια ηθική θέση, ένας τρόπος να αποφεύγεις το ερώτημα περί φυλής, ένα ερώτημα πλαστό κατά την άποψή σου, ένα ερώτημα που το μόνο που μπορεί να προκαλέσει είναι ο εξευτελισμός αυτού που το θέτει, κι έτσι αποφάσισες συνειδητά να είσαι ο καθένας, να αγκαλιάζεις εντός σου τους πάντες ώστε να είσαι ο εαυτός σου με μεγαλύτερη πληρότητα και ελευθερία, εφόσον το ποιος είσαι αποτελεί ένα μυστήριο και εσύ δεν έχεις καμιά ελπίδα ότι θα λυθεί ποτέ.”


“You think it will never happen to you, that it cannot happen to you, that you are the only person in the world to whom none of these things will ever happen, and then, one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.

Your bare feet on the cold floor as you climb out of bed and walk to the window. You are six years old. Outside, snow is falling, and the branches of the trees in the backyard are turning white.

Speak now before it is too late, and then hope to go on speaking until there is nothing more to be said. Time is running out, after all. Perhaps it is just as well to put aside your stories for now and try to examine what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one. A catalogue of sensory data. What one might call a phenomenology of breathing.”


“...murió de neumonía, o lo que es lo mismo, murió de viejo: una muerte envidiable, a tu juicio, una vida vivida hasta bien entrada la novena década y luego, en lugar de la electrocución por un rayo, la oportunidad de asimilar el hecho de que te vas de este mundo, la ocasión de reflexionar durante un tiempo, para luego quedarse dormido y entrar flotando en el reino de la nada.”


“...parecías tener un talento especial para perseguir a la persona que menos te convenía, para querer lo que no podías tener, para rendir tu corazón a chicas que no podían o no querían corresponderte.”


“Chicas medio locas, ambas deslumbrantes y autodestructivas, profundamente excitantes para ti, pero apenas llegabas a entenderlas. Las inventabas. Las utilizabas como ficticias encarnaciones de tus propios deseos, dejando de lado sus problemas e historias personales, sin comprender quiénes eran al margen de tu propia imaginación, y sin embargo, cuanto más te eludían, más apasionadamente las deseabas.”


“...te encontraste cayendo por la fisura entre el mundo y la palabra, el abismo que separa la existencia humana de nuestra capacidad de entender o expresar la verdad de la vida, y por motivos que te siguen desconcertando, aquella súbita caída por el aire vacío y sin límites te inundó de una sensación de libertad y felicidad.”


“Tus pies descalzos en el suelo frío cuando te levantas de la cama y vas a la ventana. Tienes sesenta y cuatro años. Afuera, la atmósfera es gris, casi blanca, no se ve el sol. Te preguntas: ¿Cuántas mañanas quedan? Se ha cerrado una puerta. Otra se ha abierto. Has entrado en el invierno de tu vida.”