Dialogue on the Threshold

Диалог на пороге

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Mais bientôt les bizarreries s’accusèrent davantage, et il devenait parfois difficile de les excuser, car elles sortaient du domaine de la pensée pour entrer dans le domaine de l’action. Des soins éclairés devinrent nécessaires, à la grande indignation de Gérard [de Nerval], car il ne concevait pas que des médecins s’occupassent de lui parce qu’il s’était promené dans le Palais-Royal, traînant un homard en vie au bout d’une faveur bleue. « En quoi, disait-il, un homard est-il plus ridicule qu’un chien, qu’un chat, qu’une gazelle, qu’un lion ou toute autre bête dont on se fait suivre? J’ai le goût des homards, qui sont tranquilles, sérieux, savent les secrets de la mer, n’aboient pas et n’avalent pas la monade des gens comme les chiens, si antipathiques à Goethe lequel pourtant n’était pas fou. » Et mille autre raisons plus ingénieuses les unes que les autres.

Théophile Gautier, Portraits et souvenirs littéraires, G. Charpentier, Paris, 1881, p. 40

Then, suddenly aware of her hideous equipment: "What are you going to do?" he cried.

"Boil the beast," she said, "what else?"

"But it's not dead" protested Belacqua "you can't boil it like that."

She looked at him in astonishment. Had he taken leave of his senses?

"Have sense" she said sharply, "lobsters are always boiled alive. They must be." She caught up the lobster and laid it on its back. It trembled. "They feel nothing" she said.

In the depths of the sea it had crept into the cruel pot. For hours, in the midst of its enemies, it had breathed secretly. It had survived the Frenchwoman's cat and his witless clutch. Now it was going alive into scalding water. It had to. Take into the air my quiet breath.

Belacqua looked at the old parchment of her face, grey in the dim kitchen.

"You make a fuss" she said angrily "and upset me and then lash into it for your dinner."

She lifted the lobster clear of the table. It had about thirty seconds to live.

Well, thought Belacqua, it's a quick death, God help us all.

It is not.

Samuel Becket, "Dante and the Lobster", More Pricks Than Kicks (1934), The Grove Centenary Edition, Vol. 4, Poems, Short Fiction, Criticism, ed. Paul Auster, Grove Press, New York, 2006, pp. 87-88.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Uri potest in gehenna, non exuri

God sealed us, in imprinting his Image in our soules, and in the powers thereof, at our creation; and so, every man hath this seale, and he hath it, as soone as he hath a soule: The wax, the matter, is in his conception; the seale, the forme, is in his quickning, in his inanimation; as, in Adam, the waxe was that red earth, which he was made of, the seale was that soule, that breath of life, which God breathed into him. Where the Organs of the body are so indisposed, as that this soule cannot exercise her faculties, in that man, (as in naturall Idiots, or otherwise) there, there is a curtaine drawn over this Image, but yet there this Image is, the Image of God, is in the most naturall Idiot, as well as in the wisest of men: worldly men draw other pictures over this picture, other images over this image: The wanton man may paint beauty, the ambitious may paint honour, the covetous wealth, and so deface this image, but yet there this image is, and even in hell it selfe it will be, in him that goes down into hell: uri potest in gehenna, non exuri, sayes St. Bernard, The Image of God may burne in hell, but as long as the soule remaines, that image remaines there too; And then, thou who wouldest not burne their picture, that loved thee, wilt thou betray the picture of thy Maker, thy Saviour, thy Sanctifier, to the torments of hell? Amongst the manifold and perpetuall interpretations of that article, He descended into hell, this is a new one, that thou sentest him to hell in thy soule

John Donne, Sermon Preached to the Earl of Exeter, and his company, in his Chappell at Saint Johns; 13 June 1624. Apoc. 7.9 After this, I beheld, and loe, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the lambe, clothed with white robes, and palmes in their hands.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Immanent justice

"Be virtuous, don't be greedy, Divine justice will not spare you."

Dîmbovița valley, Argeș