‘When he opened his eyes in the night, the stars were near like spiritual bodies. Fires, of course; gases — minerals, heat, atoms, but eloquent at five in the morning to a man lying in a hammock, wrapped in his overcoat.’
That’s on the first page of Bellow’s Herzog, a book I still haven’t finished. I don’t know why; I like Bellow, so there’s no reason. I’m somewhere in the middle of it, I realized the other day when I picked it up after a very long time (years). The beginning is genial: ‘If I’m out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.’
This is not going to be about Bellow though. Autumn is approaching, and the stars are visible again, the clearest sign. The light nights are gone; soon much of the days will be dark too.
Summer oppresses me, and I’m strangely glad it will soon be over; I try to elevate myself, to raise myself above the dreadfulness of it, I try to breathe in an absence of air, but it’s not truly working, though clearly I am surviving, even when summer suffocates me. Summer is a season that — so it seems — deprives me of escapes. In the clear, thin, chilly air of autumn, I can breathe. It could be another month before that state sets in.
I’ve been sauntering around the city in the evenings, walking through streets I haven’t seen in years, touching pavements I haven’t touched since in my unquiet teens. Desiring nature instead of concrete, but being stuck with the latter. I get silly ideas: like the desire for a solitary life in the countryside, growing my own food, living a lonely utopia. But then — that desire is nothing, I fear, but the desire to isolate myself from the impressions of the lives of others. On the other hand, it might be genuine, at least in the sense that the desire for silence and peacefulness is genuine, the need to see nature instead of streets, hear nature instead of people, all those random strangers I watch but can’t reach. I’d like it, for a while, but it could as well be a dead-end, a self-destructive idea.
The royal institute of art, Stockholm
I punish myself with thoughts about my inadequacies. I hope that the darkness of winter will make it easier to lull myself into unconsciousness of them, or at least into some pleasant partial forgiveness. But it is as though I desire, most of all, to reach oblivion and to build, to create, a new self in front of that old one — the one that has then, were things to go as I desire them, been allowed to slip away –, a more presentable self to cover the worn one, to hide the solitary self that takes me nowhere except repeatedly back into myself. Even though I need to do this, I do not know where to find even the simplest materials to build from; what I am really looking for is a scrapyard of old discarded selves, a place for collecting the right pieces, the missing pieces, the better pieces. I’d choose the best I could find — parts of excarnated and suitably decadent others. But for now, I must endure august.