1 April. Nida is a perfect place to imagine a meeting of now dead prominent writers or thinkers, especially the one that never took place. It can be seen as nobody’s land, a parallel universe, a liminal space. It can play a role of Mann’s Byblical desert, a Lido beach in Venice, a remote sanatorium, or Sartre’s afterworld hotel. However, my imagined meeting will take place between three writers, not two, as I believe Simone de Beauvoir can not be taken out of this equation.
2 April. My starting point is a play by Sartre called Huis clos / No Exit. Three people meet in the afterworld.
4 April. Most of my text is going to be made of quotations.
6 April. I wrote the beginning and the end of my play. Now I have to write the middle.
7 April. After yesterday’s conversation about meanings of names, I came to the following conclusion: Beauvoir = beaver = castor = castor oil = ricinos aliejus = Rizinusöl = huile de ricin = Ricin. I think my Simone in Nida may be asked to act as Ricine.
8 April. The question for today: do fish blink?
9 April. Chance – for me – is the best way of research for writing. But I’m looking for it in the realm of Culture, rather than Nature – even in Nida. Various unconnected elements of it fall into place and connect so remarkably that it’s hard to believe it.
10 April. Appropriation is the best invention in the 20th century art.
13 April. YODA: If no mistake you have made, losing you are. A different game you should play.
14 April. Correction. Photo by Sutkus as well.
15 April. “And without a doubt it is more comfortable to endure blind bondage than to work for one’s liberation; the dead, too, are better suited to the earth than the living.”
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
16 April. On the Internet I saw a “poster” with the face of Steve Jobs, his name and “his quote” in Russian, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It poses a question abuot celebrity and quotes. In the long run, will it matter, what your views have been? After you’re dead, or maybe even before, anyone can quote, misquote, misuse and invent anything you have (n)ever said.
18 April. I’m throwing Alec Guinness in – one of my favourite actors.
19 April. The universal question is: “Didn’t I say so?”
20 April. Another universal question is: “Did I really say that?”
21 April. Knut Hamsun, a favourite writer of Thomas Mann wrote an euology for Hitler.
23 April. Sartre: “Manipulators manipulated by their own manipulations”.
24 April. Slavoj Žižek: “This is also why, in order to get the truth to speak, it is not enough to suspend the subject’s active intervention and let language itself speak — as Elfriede Jelinek put it with extraordinary clarity: “Language should be tortured to tell the truth.” It should be twisted, denaturalized, extended, condensed, cut, and reunited, made to work against itself. Language as the “big Other” is not an agent of wisdom to whose message we should attune ourselves, but a place of cruel indifference and stupidity. The most elementary form of torturing one’s language is called poetry.”
26 April. Bringing a new character in: Joseph Beuys. From an hour long performance of “Ja ja ja ja ja. Nee nee nee nee nee.”
Wikipedia: “Beuys had adopted shamanism not only as his presentation mode of his art but also in his own life. Although the artist as a shaman has been a trend in modern art (Picasso, Gauguin), Beuys is unusual in that respect as he integrated “his art and his life into the shaman role.” Beuys believed that humanity, with its turn on rationality, was trying to eliminate “emotions” and thus eliminate a major source of energy and creativity in every individual. In his first lecture tour in America he was telling the audience that humanity was in an evolving state and that as “spiritual” beings we ought to draw on both our emotions and our thinking as they represent the total energy and creativity for every individual. Beuys described how we must seek out and energize our spirituality and link it to our thinking powers so that “our vision of the world must be extended to encompass all the invisible energies with which we have lost contact.”
28 April. Is it possible for ideas not to become stale with time?
29 April. Russian minister of culture calls Putin “the last European”.
30 April. The randomness of quotation.
1 May. Authenticity in the age of Internet.
2 May. What does this mean? “The whole town was like a woman in heat.” Sartre. The Flies.
4 May. Lingamas???
5 May. Wikipedia: Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (芥川 龍之介 Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, 1 March 1892 – 24 July 1927) was a Japanese writer active in the Taishō period in Japan. He is regarded as the “Father of the Japanese short story” and Japan’s premier literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, is named after him. He committed suicide at the age of 35 through an overdose of barbital.
Akutagawa had a highly publicized dispute with Jun’ichirō Tanizaki over the importance of structure versus lyricism in story. Akutagawa argued that structure, how the story was told, was more important than the content or plot of the story, whereas Tanizaki argued the opposite.
I am on Akutagawa’s side.
6 May. The famous Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon is in fact based on two stories by Akutagawa. The main plot is from In The Grove, and the title and framing from Rashomon. I used to think – hm, it all depends on perception. But in fact only one of the characters is telling the truth, the others are lying.
7 May. Digression.
9 May. Simone de Beauvoir: “If you live long enough you will see that every victory turns into defeat.”
10 May. Farce.
11 May. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, an essay by Karl Marx “is the source of one of Marx’s most quoted statements, that history repeats itself, “the first as tragedy, then as farce”, referring respectively to Napoleon I and to his nephew Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III):
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Caussidière for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre,the Montagne of 1848 to 1851 for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the nephew for the uncle. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances of the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire.”
12 May. The quote about history repeating first appeared in Marx’s unpublished comical novel Scorpion and Felix, which he wrote in 1837 when he was 19.
“The surviving fragments of the book’s manuscript have not been well regarded. Francis Wheen in his biography of Marx characterizes the work as a “nonsensical torrent of whimsy and persiflage” which was “dashed off in a fit of intoxicated whimsy”.
It is believed Scorpion and Felix was influenced by The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1767) by Laurence Sterne.
“His text is filled with allusions and references to the leading thinkers and writers of the 17th and 18th centuries.”
“Sterne incorporated into Tristram Shandy many passages taken almost word for word from Robert Burton‘s The Anatomy of Melancholy, Francis Bacon‘s Of Death, Rabelais and many more, and rearranged them to serve the new meaning intended in Tristram Shandy. Tristram Shandy was highly praised for its originality, and nobody noticed until years after Sterne’s death.”
13 May. “Sterne was no friend of gravitas, a quality which excited his disgust; Tristram Shandy gave a ludicrous turn to solemn passages from respected authors that it incorporated, as well as to the Consolatio literary genre.”
“One of the subjects of such ridicule were some of the opinions contained in Robert Burton‘s The Anatomy of Melancholy, a book that mentioned sermons as the most respectable type of writing, and that was favoured by the learned; Burton’s attitude was to try to prove indisputable facts by weighty quotations; his book consisted mostly of a collection of the opinions of a multitude of writers, to which Burton often modestly refrained to add his own, divided into quaint and old-fashioned categories; it discussed and determined everything from the doctrines of religion to military discipline, from inland navigation to the morality of dancing schools.”
14 May. It’s all in the name. Tristram was apparently the worst and most unfortunate name for a man. It was given by accident, due to inability to pronounce a proper and auspicious name.
“According to his father’s theory, his name, being a portmanteau-like conflation of “Trismegistus” (after the esoteric mystic Hermes Trismegistus) and “Tristan” (whose connotation bore the influence through folk etymology of Latin tristis, “sorrowful”), both doomed him to a life of woe and cursed him with the inability to comprehend the causes of his misfortune.”
Tristan is also a story by Thomas Mann. Here, it seems, the circle is completed. But then there is a reference to Wagner, and another spiral could start here. And so it goes on and on and on. Everything is connected in the strangest, unbelievable, wonderful way. Everything is a game.