such shocks into words

The mornings are dark now, already. And cold. It has been weeks since I last found myself here, in the cold, quiet dark.

The concluding passage of Anne Carson’s Men in the Off Hours begins:

My mother dies the autumn I was writing this. And Now I have no one, I thought. “Exposed on a high ledge in full light,” says Virginia Woolf on one of her tingling days (March 1, 1937). I was turning over the pages of her diaries, still piled on my desk the day after the funeral, looking for comfort I suppose – why are these pages comforting? They led her, after all, to the River Ouse. Yet strong pleasure rises from every sentence. In reflecting on the death of her own father, she decided that forming such shocks into words and order was “the strongest pleasure known to me” (Moments of Being [London 1985], 81).

And whom do we have to thank for this pleasure but Time?

I meet a friend for dinner, but I am impatient. I have deadlines to meet. Tasks piling up even as I sit at the table across from her. Between us, the space is energized by the doubts and questions familiar perhaps to certain kinds of women at certain times of life. She tells me of the old friend who visits her from far away and how they sit on the back porch of her house and talk about writing, living, love. He tells her of the dream he had. How in it, he tells her that he has loved her all these years.

Later, as he returns to his city, and she to her errands – the grocery store, the school meetings – he tells her “I hope that was not too much.” As if speaking love creates love. As if they had not been carrying it between them through time.

M. tells me: Think of yourself as the rocks in the riverbed and let the water rush over you.

Let it all flow over you in time.

Maggie Nelson on time:

100. It often happens that we count our days, as if the act of measurement made us some kind of promise. But really this is like hoisting a harness onto an invisible horse. “There is simply no way that a year form now you’re going to feel the way you feel today,” a different therapist said to me last year at this time. But though I have learned to act as if I feel differently, the truth is that my feelings haven’t really changed.

On the drive home from school, my son says: “I figured out that 100 hours is not very long.”

“Really?” I ask. “It’s not,” he says. “It’s like a little more than five days,” he says. “And you don’t think this is very long,” I ask. He says: “A little long but not too long.” I say: “Well, maybe it might feel long if you are waiting for something.”

He is quiet for a moment, considers this. He says: “It might feel long if you are waiting for something, but if you are not waiting for something, it’s not very long at all.”

Marguerite Duras, from an interview with Jacques Rivette [November, 1969]:

RIVETTE: What do you mean “let oneself go?”

DURAS: Oh, I let myself drift along. Because I had used a certain emptiness in me as a starting point of the book [Destroy, She Said]. I can’t justify that now. After the fact. There are things that are very obscure. Which aren’t clear to me at all, even now. But which I want to leave like that. It doesn’t interest me to clear them up.