Fiction, literature, prose, Uncategorized, writing

The Mexican

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Rumor was he came from Mexico. A big Mexican — the biggest I’d ever seen. But he didn’t look Mexican. He was a gringo with red hair and green eyes. A giant Mexican flag.

Hammer, he said.

I hefted the sledgehammer with both arms and handed it over to him. Wind ripped and tugged at us violently. The big man took the sledgehammer with one hand and set himself to strike the coffin. Bare branches crashed and screamed above our heads. It seemed the wrong time to ask where he was from.

The big man smashed the wood with one blow. Darkness surrounded us everywhere. We always worked by moonlight, but tonight the skies had shifted unexpectedly, veiling the moon and leading the storm’s charge. The big man tore at the coffin with his bare hands, his massive back to me. I heard a noise like a pig squeal and swung my rifle in that direction. Wind perforated my clothes, cut into my skin.

I’ve got something, he said.

I leaned over his crowded frame but could not see in the darkness.

What is it? I said.

He stood, unfolding his shoulders to stand erect. His body extended vertically so that it seemed he was being born, his head rising upward to the skeletal tree branches whipping with the gales, to the moon shrouded in the distant black. He turned and I noticed the eyes first, golden light embedded deep in the eyes of the skull, the Mexican’s hands enveloping the artifact to respect its delicacy and power.

What is it? I said again, mesmerized.

Then weightlessness, light fading to black.

I woke on my back with the Mexican standing far above me, trees surrounding him in the moonlit background. The wind had calmed. I could not move or speak, but fully sensate and aware, felt the granules of earth on my skin, felt the coolness of the dirt on my face rolling down my cheek, as the Mexican worked silently, just the rhythmic scrape of steel shovel into broken earth.

 

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Bolaño, Excerpt, literature, nonfiction, notes, prose, quote, Uncategorized, writing

Bolaño’s literary kitchen

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“In my ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior, whom some voices (disembodied voices, voices that cast no shadow) call a writer. This warrior is always fighting. He knows that in the end, no matter what he does, he’ll be defeated. But he still roams the literary kitchen, which is built of cement, and faces his opponent without begging for mercy or granting it.”

— Roberto Bolaño

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Excerpt, Fiction, literature, notes, prose, Uncategorized, writing

Echoes of silence

 

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I imagined him leaning over the page by candlelight while the rest of the hospital slept, night after night, his true voice pouring from the pen in measured strokes, filling the void of sound in his throat and in that quiet building with the voices of multitudes. The cold winter months abated, new growth sprouted in the crystalline valley below Clyvesell, and Wade was there looking out the window and writing. Sun scorched the mountain relentlessly in the summers and Wade was there with his notepad, cloaked in the solitude of night, stealing sleep during the day when he could. He worked his jobs, he attended therapy sessions, events, activities when required, which was often. But he lived for the night, when the echoes of silence throughout Clyvesell could not hush his mind, his pen.

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Excerpt, Fiction, literature, Pessoa, prose, quote, Uncategorized, writing

Others

MadTree

Last week I drafted a short piece in my notebook about other people, namely my aversion to them. Today I read a passage in Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet that puts my piece to shame. This from Pessoa:

Isolation made me in its own image. The presence of another person — one person is all it takes — immediately slows down my thinking … When I am alone, I can come up with endless bon mots, acerbic ripostes to remarks no one has made, sociable flashes of wit exchanged with no one; but all this disappears when I’m confronted by another human being. I lose all my intelligence, I lose the power of speech, and after a while all I feel like doing is sleeping. Yes, talking to people makes me feel like sleeping. Only my spectral and imagined friends, only the conversations I have in dreams, have reality and substance, and in them the spirit is present like an image in a mirror.

The whole idea of being forced into contact with someone oppresses me. A simple invitation to supper from a friend produces in me an anguish difficult to put into words. The idea of any social obligation — going to a funeral, discussing something with someone at the office, going to meet someone (whether known or unknown) at the station — the mere idea blocks that whole day’s thoughts and sometimes I even worry about it the night before and sleep badly because of it. Yet the reality, when it comes, is utterly insignificant, and certainly doesn’t justify so much fuss, yet it happens again and again and I never learn.

‘My habits are those of solitude, not men.’ I don’t know if it was Rousseau or Senancour who said that, but it was some spirit belonging to the same species as me.

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Excerpt, literature, montaigne, notes, philosophy, prose, Uncategorized, writing

Montaigne on introspection

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If no one reads me,

have I wasted my time, entertaining myself for so many idle hours with such useful and agreeable thoughts? … I have no more made my book than my book has made me — a book consubstantial with its author …

Have I wasted my time by taking stock of myself so continually, so carefully? For those who go over themselves only in their minds and occasionally in speech do not penetrate to essentials in their examination as does a man who makes that his study, his work, and his trade, who binds himself to keep an enduring account, with all his faith, with all his strength.

Indeed, the most delightful pleasures are digested inwardly, avoid leaving any traces, and avoid the sight not only of the public but of any other person.

— Michel de Montaigne

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