Sunday, 26 September 2010

In praise of nothing ...

Well tomorrow the holiday begins in earnest. Pictured here are just some of the books we thought we ought to bring with us ... shame to leave them at home when they might like to visit the Languedoc too I suppose! Some of these have been read by one but not by both of us. Really though they took up an obscene amount of space in the car and will mean that we won't be able to fit enough wine in the boot on the way back!
So tomorrow I may have to decide - do I begin with Pain, Evil or the Alexandrian Quartet? hmm ...
Meanwhile this evening I have both begun and finished my first book of the holiday. Now in some ways this is cheating becaue the book is by Christian Bobin and called Eloge du rien. I don't think Bobin has written a single book of much more than100 pages and many of his books are around about the length of a longish written sermon. They are beautifully produced and printed, so feel like reading books. It's right for them to be produced like this because the density and poetry of his prose means it would be hard to cope with too many words on a page. You need to have pages to turn to have time to think. Not quite sure how this would work if you were reading him on a kindle. I think miniatures of literature might not work so well in that format.
Reading Bobin this evening I gave thanks with a wry smile for the fact that I would not have to find an entirely inadequate translation for this glorious half sentence:
"seul l'amour donne un sens à ma vie, en la rendant à elle-même insensée."
The thoughts in his "excurse" are triggered by a letter asking him to write about what gives meaning to his life. He passes through his dislike of such exam-like questions, remembers how the only way he got through school was by learning everything by heart and so ruining his memory and somehow in the middle he chances upon love.
Towards the end he says that love could never fit within the narrowness of meaning (ne saurait se tenir dans l'étroitesse du sens) and then he continues:

"L'amour est liberté. La liberté ne va pas avec le bonheur. Elle va avec la joie. La joie est comme une échelle de lumière dans notre coeur. Elle mène à bien plus haut qu'elle: là où plus rien n'est à saisir, sinon l'insaissisable. Bien sûr, je ne réponds plus vraiment: je chante. Mais v-t-on demander à l'oiseau la raison de son chant?"