Marguerite Duras, “The Lover”

“Straightway after the meal she’d apologize for having to leave so soon, but she had things to do, she said. She never said what. When there were enough of us we’d stay on for an hour or two after she left. She used to say, Stay as long as you like. No one spoke about her when she wasn’t there. I don’t think anyone could have, because no one knew her. You always went home with the feeling of having experienced a sort of empty nightmare, of having spent a few hours as the guest of strangers who were strangers too, of having lived through a space of time without any consequences and without any cause, human or other. It was like having crossed a third frontier, having been on a train, having waited in doctors’ waiting rooms, hotels, airports. In summer we had lunch on a big terrace looking over the river, and coffee was served in the garden covering the whole roof. There was a swimming pool. But no one went in. We just sat and looked at Paris. The empty avenues, the river, the streets. In the empty streets, catalpas in flower. Marie-Claude Carpenter. I looked at he a log, practically all the time, it embarrassed her but I couldn’t help it. I looked at her to try to find out, find out who she was, Marie-Claude Carpenter. Why she was there rather than somewhere else, why she was from so far away too, from Boston, why she was rich, why no one knew anything about her, not anything, no one, why these seemingly compulsory parties. And why, why, in her eyes, deep down in the depths of sight, that particle of death? Marie-Claude Carpenter. Why did all her dresses have something indefinable in common that made them look as if they didn’t quite belong to her, as if they might as well have been on some other body? Dresses like that were neutral, plain, very light in color, white, like summer in the middle of winter.”


Georges Bataille, “Theory of Religion”

“To sacrifice is not to kill but to relinquish and to give. Killing is only the exhibition of a deep meaning. What is important is to pass from a lasting order, in which all consumption of resources in subordinated to the need for duration, to the violence of an unconditional consumption; what is important is to leave a world of real things, whose reality derives from a long-term operation and never resides in the moment— a world that creates and preserves (that creates for the benefit of a lasting reality). Sacrifice is the antithesis of production, which is accomplished with a view to the future; it is consumption that is concerned only with the moment.”

William S. Burroughs, “Naked Lunch”

“At all levels criss-cross of bridges, cat walks, cable cars. Catatonic youths dressed as women in gowns of burlap and rotten rags, faces heavily and crudely painted in bright colors over a strata of beatings, arabesques of broken, suppurating scars to the pearly bone, push against the passer-by in silent clinging insistence.

Traffickers in the Black Meat, flesh of the giant aquatic black centipede— sometimes attaining a length of six feet— found in a lane of black rocks and iridescent, brown lagoons, exhibit paralyzed crustaceans in camouflage pockets of the Plaza visible only to the Meat Eaters.

Followers of obsolete unthinkable trades, doodling in Etruscan, addicts of drugs not yet synthesized, black marketeers of World War III, excisers of telepathic sensitivity, osteopaths of the spirit, investigators of infractions denounced by bland paranoid chess players, servers of fragmentary warrants taken down in hebephrenic shorthand charging unspeakable mutilations of the spirit, officials of unconstituted police states, brokers of exquisite dreams and nostalgias tested on the sensitized cells of junk sickness and bartered for raw materials of the will, drinkers of the Heavy Fluid sealed in the translucent amber of dreams…”

Roberto Bolano, “Amulet”

“And Remedios Varo, who is standing with her back to a picture, a picture covered up with an old skirt (but that old skirt, it occurs to me, must have belonged to a giant), says that she has given up smoking, that her lungs are delicate now, and although she doesn’t look like she has bad lungs, or has even seen anything bad in her life, I know she has seen many bad things, the ascension of the devil, the unstoppable procession of termites climbing the Tree of Life, the conflict between the enlightenment and the Shadow of the Empire or the Kingdom of Order, which are all proper names for the irrational stain that is bent on turning us into beasts or robots, and which has been fighting against the Enlightenment since the beginning of time (a conjecture of mine, which the official representatives of the Enlightenment would no doubt reject), I know that she has seen things that very few women know they have seen, and now she is seeing her own death, which is set to occur in less than twelve months’ time, and I know there is someone else in her house who smokes and does not want to be discovered by me, which makes me think that whoever it is, it must be someone I know.”

Roberto Bolano, “Amulet”

“Guerrero, at that time of night, is more like a cemetery than an avenue, not a cemetery in 1974 of in 1968, or 1975, but a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.”

From “The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila”

“The Lord wanted me while in this state to see sometimes the following vision: I saw close to me toward my left side an angel in bodily form…the angel was not large but small; he was very beautiful. and his face was so aflame that he seemed to be one of those very sublime angels that appear to be all afire…I saw in his hands a large golden dart and at the end of the iron tip there appeared to be a little fire. It seemed to me that this angel plunged the dart several times into my heart and that it reached deep within me. When he drew it out, I thought he was carrying off with him the deepest part of me; and he left me all on fire with the great love of God. The pain was so great that it made me moan, and the sweetness this greatest pain caused me was so superabundant that there is no desire capable of taking it away; nor is the soul content with less than God. The pain is no bodily but spiritual, although the body doesn’t fail to share in some of it, and even a great deal…But when this pain I’m now speaking of begins, it seems the Lord carries the soul away and places it in ecstasy; thus there is no room for pain or suffering, because joy soon enters in.”