Dialogue on the Threshold

Диалог на пороге

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

a beam of light

As we have seen, purely intentional correlates of connected sentences can enter into manifold relationships and interrelations. And since among the sentence correlates there are also states of affairs which occur in the ontic range of one and the same object, as well as states in which events and interconnections between individual objects are represented, the represented objects also do not lie isolated and alien alongside one antother but, thanks to the manifold ontic connections, unite into a uniform ontic sphere. In doing so they always constitute--quite remarkably--a segment of a still largely undetermined world, which is, however, established in accord with its ontic type and the type of its essence, that is, a segment whose boundaries are never sharply drawn. It is always as if a beam of light were illuminating a part of a region, the remainder of which disappears in an indeterminate cloud but is still there in its indeterminacy. 

Roman Ingarden, The Literary Work of Art: 
An Investigation  on the Borderlines of Ontology, Logic, and Theory of Literature
trans. George G. Grabowicz, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, 1973, p. 218

Sunday, 28 July 2019

de statu post mortem

'Hell?' breathed Miss Lacey.

'"The state after death",' called Mr Sully, still peering into the gloom--and stepped back rather hurriedly in the intense pale lilac illumination of a sudden flickering blaze of lightning.

Thunder now clanged directly overhead, and still Mr Eaves gazed softly yet earnestly into nothingness, as if in deep thought.

'Whatever you like to call it,' he began again steadily pushing his way, 'that's how I take it. I sit with my wife, all just the same; cap and "front" and all, just the same; gas burning, decanter on the table, books in the case, marble clock on the mantelpiece, just the same. Or perhaps I'm walking in the street, just the same; carts and shops and dogs, all just the same. Or perhaps I'm here, same as I might be now; with Sully there, and you there, and him there,' he nodded towards the commissionaire. 'All just the same. For ever, and ever, and ever.' He raised his empty glass to his lips, and glanced almost apologetically towards his old friend. 'For ever, and ever,' he repeated, and put it down again.

'He simply means,' said Mr Sully, 'no change. Like one of those blessed things on the movies; over and over again, click, click, click, click, click; you know. I tell him it's his sentence, my dear.'

'But if it's the same,' Miss Lacey interposed, with a little docile frown of confusion, 'then what's different?' (...)

'Why,' said Mr Eaves, 'it seems as if there I can't change either; can't. If you were to ask me how I know--why, I couldn't say. It's a dream. But that's what's the difference. There's nothing to come. Now: why! I might change in a score of ways; just take them as they come. I might fall ill; or Mrs Eaves might. I might come into some money; marry again. God bless me, I might die! But there, that's all over; endless; no escape; nothing. I can't even die. I'm just meself, Miss Lacey; Sully, old friend. Just meself, for ever, and ever. Nothing but me looking on at it all, if you take me--just what I've made of it. It's my'--his large pale eyes roved aimlessly--'it's just what Mr Sully says, I suppose; it's my sentence. Eh, Sully? wasn't that it? My sentence?' He smiled courageously.

'Sentence, oh no! Sentence? You!' cried Miss Lacey incredulously. 'How could you, Mr Sully? Sentence! Whatever for, sir?'

Mr Eaves again glanced vaguely at the sleeper, and then at his friend's round substantial shoulders, rigidly turned on him. He fixed his eyes on the clock.

'You've never done no harm, Mr Eaves!' cried Miss Lacey, almost as if in entreaty.

'You see,' said the old gentleman, glancing over his shoulder, 'it isn't what you do: so I seem to take it.' Mr Sully half turned from the door, as if to listen. 'It's what you are,' said Mr Eaves, as if to himself.

'Why, according to that,' said Miss Lacey, in generous indignation, 'who's safe?'

Walter de la Mare, "The Three Friends"
First published in Saturday Westminster Gazette, 19 April 1913;
The Picnic and Other Stories, 1941;
Short Stories 1895-1926, ed. Giles de la Mare, London, 1996, p. 97-98

Saturday, 20 July 2019

tenebrae exteriores interioresque

'I see a huge city of granite,' he grunted; 'I see lean spires of metal and hazardous towers, frowning upon the blackness of their shadows. White lights stare out of narrow window-slits: a black cloud breathes smoke in the streets. There is no wind, yet a wind sits still upon the city. The air smells like copper. Every sound rings as it were upon metal. There is a glow--a glow of outer darkness--a glow imagined by straining eyes. The city is a bubble with clamour and tumult rising thin and yellow in the lean streets like dust in a loampit. The city is walled as with a finger-ring. The sky is dumb with listeners. Far down, as the crow sees the ears of wheat, I see that mote of a man in his black clothes, now lit by flaming jets, now hid in thick darkness. Every street breeds creatures. They swarm gabbling, and walk like ants in the sun. Their faces are fierce and wary, with malevolent lips. Each mouths to each, and points and stares. On I walk, imperturbable and stark. But I know, oh, my boy, I know the alphabet of their vile whispering and gapings and gesticulations. The air quivers with the flight of black winged shapes. Each foot-tap of that sure figure upon the granite is ticking his hour away.' My uncle turned and took my hand. 'And this, Edmond, this is the man of business who purchased his game in the city, and vied with all in the excellence of his claret. The man who courted your aunt, begot hale and whole children, who sits in his pew and is respected. That beneath my skull should lurk such monstrous things! You are my godchild, Edmond. Actions are mere sediment, and words--froth, froth. Let the thoughts be clean, my boy; the thoughts must be clean; thoughts make the man. You may never at any time be of ill repute, and yet be a blackguard. Every thought, black or white, lives for ever, and to life there is no end.'

'Look here, Uncle,' said I, 'it's serious, you know, you must come to town and see Jenkinson, the brain man. A change of air, sir.'

'Do you smell sulphur?' said my uncle.

Walter de la Mare, "A Mote"
First published in Cornhill Magazine, August 1896, 'by Walter Ramal';
Short Stories 1895-1926, ed. Giles de la Mare, London, 1996, p. 419

Sunday, 16 June 2019

la réalité la plus inférieure

[L]a « solidification » du monde, si loin qu'elle soit poussée effectivement, ne peut jamais être complète, et il y a des limites au delà desquelles elle ne saurait aller, puisque, comme nous l'avons dit, son extrême aboutissement serait incompatible avec toute existence réelle, fût-elle du degré le plus bas ; et même, à mesure que cette « solidification » avance, elle n'en devient toujours que plus précaire, car la réalité la plus inférieure est aussi la plus instable ; la rapidité sans cesse croissante des changements du monde actuel n'en témoigne d'ailleurs que d'une façon trop éloquente.

René Guénon, Le Règne de la quantité et les signes des temps, 1945

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Stupidity and vulgarity

To discriminate schools, of art, of literature, is, of course, part of the obvious business of literary criticism: but, in the work of literary production, it is easy to be overmuch occupied concerning them. For, in truth, the legitimate contention is, not of one age or school of literary art against another, but of all successive schools alike, against the stupidity which is dead to the substance, and the vulgarity which is dead to the form.

Walter Pater, "Romanticism", Macmillan's Magazine, November 1876

Tuesday, 30 April 2019


Where then will that soul hide itself, which to the eyes of so many spectators will have been suddenly exposed in all its shame? With what kind of body will it endure those endless and unbearable torments, where is the fire unquenched, and the endlessly punishing worm, and the dark and fearful nethermost reach (*) of hell, and bitter moans, and violent yelling, and weeping and gnashing of teeth, and horrors without end? From these there is no release after death, there is no device or means to escape these bitter punishments.

(*) πυθμὴν - base, foundation, root (of a tree), bottom (of a jar or cup), bottom (of the sea), socket, fundus of a univalve, the hollow beneath the foot of a goblet, stock of a family, base of an arithmetical series

ποῦ ἄρα ἡ ψυχὴ ἐκείνη καταδύσεται, ἡ ἐν ὄψεσι τοσούτων θεατῶν ἐξαίφνης ὀφθεῖσα αἰσχύνης ἀνάπλεως; ποίῳ δὲ σώματι τὰς ἀπεράντους ἐκείνας καὶ ἀνυποίστους ὑποστήσεται μάστιγας, ὅπου πῦρ ἄσβεστον, καὶ σκώληξ ἀθάνατα κολάζων, καὶ πυθμὴν ᾅδου σκοτεινὸς καὶ φρικώδης, καὶ οἰμωγαὶ πικραί, καὶ ὀλολυγμὸς ἐξαίσιος, καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ βρυγμὸς ὀδόντων, καὶ πέρας οὐκ ἔχει τὰ δεινά; τούτων οὐκ ἔστιν ἀπαλλαγὴ μετὰ θάνατον, οὐδέ τις ἐπίνοια, οὐδὲ μηχανὴ τοῦ διεκδῦναι τὰ πικρὰ κολαστήρια.

Epistola XLVI. Ad Virginem lapsam. Sancti Nostri Basilii Caesareae Cappadociae Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia Quae Exstant, Opera et Studio Monachorum Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, e Congregatione Sancti Mauri. Editio Parisina Altera, Emendata et Aucta. Tomus Tertius. Parisiis, apud Gaume Fratres, Bibliopolas, M. DCCC. XXXIX. [pag. 497]

Ubi itaque anima illa abscondetur, quae in oculis tot spectatorum subito visa fuerit dedecoris plena? Quali vero corpore infinita illa et intolerabilia perferet supplicia, ubi ignis inexstinctus, et vermis indesinenter puniens, et imum inferi tenebricosum et horrendum et ululatus amari, et ejulatus ingens, et ploratus, et stridor dentium, et ubi mala finem non habent? Ab his post mortem liberari non datus, neque est industria ulla, neque ars effugiendi amara supplicia.

Saturday, 27 April 2019


But self-love, or the love which reigns in Hell, and is the opposite of that in heaven, consists in a man’s loving himself supremely, and willing well to himself alone, and not to others except for the sake of himself. Such a man has no genuine love of the church, his country, society, or a fellow-citizen. He is not willing to serve them, but loves to have them serve him. And if he performs any uses, or confers any benefits upon others, it is for the sake of his own reputation, honor, or emolument that he does it;— thus for the sake of himself, and not from any regard to the good of his neighbor.
    Such is Hell as to its quality or essence—the complete opposite of Heaven. “The evils proper to those,” says Swedenborg, “who are in the love of self are in general contempt of others, envy, enmity against all who do not favor them, hostility thence derived, various kinds of hatred, of revenge, of cunning, of deceit, together with unmercifulness and cruelty.”

George Bush, From the Memorabilia of Swedenborg; 
Illustrative of His Doctrines and Disclosures
New York, 1848, p. 197

Friday, 19 April 2019


Discrimen inter Ens reale et apparens, qualitatemque realem et apparentem examinatu dignum est. Et quidem quae in somniis apparent, dicimus falsa sive apparentia, non tam quia eorum causa intra nos est neque aliquid externi iis respondet (id enim ut alias dicam nihil obesset), quam potius quia neque cum aliis phaenomenis inter se congruentibus, neque inter se congruunt quae somniamus.

Leibniz, 1685 (?)

The difference between a Being that is real and a Being in appearance, between a quality that is real and a quality in appearance, is worthy of examination. The fact is that we call the things that appear in dreams false or appearances not because their cause is within us or because they are not in accord with anything external (which would be no hindrance, as I shall say elsewhere), so much as because the things that we dream are neither congruent among themselves nor congruent with other phenomena congruent among themselves.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Somnia testificantur de futura vita

Somnia hoc distant a vita, quod phaenomena vitae sunt ordinata, et quod hinc sequitur universalia: neque enim mea satis ordinata essent, nisi alienis conspirarent. Quia tamen est aliquid in speciem inordinatum in hac vita, no physice quidem, sed moraliter, consentaneum est superesse aliam vitam, cui collata haec habet somnii instar, et morte nos evigilantes ad phaenomena demum pervenire, in quibus huic quoque perturbationi remedium afferatur, ubi praemia poenaeque corriget, quae in hac vita distorta videntur. 

Leibniz, c. 1698

Dreams are separate from life in that the phenomena of life possess an order and hence it follows that they are universal: for the phenomena of my life would not possess sufficient order unless they were in concord with the phenomena of others’ lives. Since in this life there nonetheless exists something lacking in order, not only physically, but also morally, it stands to reason that there is yet another life, compared with which this life has the appearance of a dream, and that awakening from death we at last arrive at phenomena wherein a remedy to this confusion is also brought about, where rewards and punishments will rectify those things that appear distorted in this life.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Mitbürger des Himmels

. . . ich nicht von den bin so auff ihr Vaterland, oder sonst auff eine gewisse Nation, erpricht seyn; sondern ich gehe auf den Nutzen des gantzen menschlichen Geschlechts; denn ich halte den Himmel für das Vaterland und alle wohlgesinnte Menschen für dessen Mitbürger . . .

Concept eines Briefes von Leibniz an Peter den Grossen, 16. Jan. 1712.

Leibniz in seinen Beziehungen zu Russland und Peter dem Grossen: 
Eine geschischtliche Darstellung dieses Verhältnisses 
nebst den darauf bezüglichen Briefen und Denkschriften
Hrsg. W. Guerrier, Ord. Professor an der Universität Moscau.
St. Petersburg und Leipzig, 1873. 
N. 143. S. 208 

I am not one of those devoted solely to his native land or to one particular nation; rather, I pursue the interests of the whole human race, since I deem heaven my native land and all well-meaning men its fellow citizens.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

tête de mouche

Les plus petits moucherons sont aussi parfaits que les animaux les plus énormes. Les proportions de leurs membres sont aussi justes que celles des autres; et il semble même que Dieu ait voulu leur donner plus d'ornements pour récompenser la petitesse de leur corps. Ils ont des couronnes, des aigrettes, et d'autres ajustements sur leur tête, qui effacent tout ce que le luxe des hommes peut inventer; et je puis dire hardiment que tous ceux qui ne se sont jamais servis que de leurs yeux, n'ont jamais rien vu de si beau, de si juste, ni même de si magnifique dans les maisons des plus grands princes, que ce qu'on voit avec des lunettes sur la tête d'une simple mouche.

Malebranche, De la recherche de la vérité (1674-75)

Saturday, 30 March 2019

écrivain et traducteur

Quand on écrit, il faut penser au martyre du lecteur et du traducteur. C'est en songeant à ce dernier surtout que l'écrivain devrait faire n'importe quel sacrifice pour être net et compréhensible. 

Emil Cioran, Cahiers 1957-1972, Éditions Gallimard, 1997, p. 644.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

In somnio

[S]upposons qu'un homme songe fort longtemps; par exemple quelques années de suite, que pourroit il faire en ce temps; il ne pourroit pas lire dans les livres, ny chercher les plantes dans les champs, ny examiner les corps avec un microscope. Il ne pourroit même faire des experiences sur son corps; il ne luy resteroient que celles qui se peuvent faire sur l'espirt, or les experiences qui se peuvent faire sur l'esprit, ce sont elles, qui se font en examinant nos idées, et qui nous donnent des demonstrations en Geometrie, Arithmetique, Metaphysique.

Ainsi on m'avouera que celuy qui songe n'est capable d'autres verités que de celles qui se tirent de l'esprit même. Donc l'art d'inventer, et de perfectionner l'esprit en luy même, servant à tous les estats de l'ame, doit estre sur tout estimée. 

Leibniz, 1676