Monday, August 30, 2010

Maurice Blanchot: The Madness of the Day

From The Madness of the Day, by Maurice Blanchot, trans. Lydia Davis

I am not learned; I am not ignorant. I have known joys. That is saying too little: I am alive, and this life gives me the greatest pleasure. And what about death? When I die (perhaps any minute now), I will feel immense pleasure. I am not talking about the foretaste of death, which is stale and often disagreeable. Suffering dulls the senses. But this is the remarkable truth, and I am sure of it: I experience boundless pleasure in living, and I will take boundless satisfaction in dying.

I have wandered: I have gone from place to place. I have stayed in one place, lived in a single room. I have been poor, then richer, then poorer than many people. As a child I had great passions, and everything I wanted was given to me. My childhood has disappeared, my youth his behind me. It doesn't matter. I am happy about what has been. I am pleased by what is, and what is to come suits me well enough.

Is my life better than other peoples lives? Perhaps. I have a roof over my head and many do not. I do not have leprosy, I am not blind, I see the world—what extraordinary happiness! I see this day, and outside it there is nothing. Who could take that away from me? And when this day fades, I will fade along with it—a thought, a certainty, that enraptures me.

I have loved people. I have lost them. I went mad when that blow struck me, because it is hell. But there was no witness to my madness, my frenzy was not evident: only my innermost being was mad. Sometimes I became enraged. People would say to me, Why are you so calm? But I was scorched from head to foot; at night I would run through the streets and howl; during the day I would work calmly.

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