Easter in Combray | Marcel Proust, 1913

Illiers Combray, Aerial view

’‘Combray at a distance, from a twenty-mile radius, as we used to see it from the railway when we arrived there 
every year in Holy Week, was no more than a church epitomising the town, representing it, speaking of it and for it 
to the horizon, and as one drew near, gathering close about its long, dark cloak, sheltering from the wind, on the open 
plain, as a shepherd gathers his sheep, the woolly grey backs of its flocking houses, which a fragment of its mediaeval 
ramparts enclosed, here and there, in an outline as scrupulously circular as that of a little town in a primitive painting. 
To live in, Combray was a trifle depressing, like its streets, whose houses, built of the blackened stone of the country,
 fronted with outside steps, capped with gables which projected long shadows downwards, were so dark that one had,
 as soon as the sun began to go down, to draw back the curtains in the sitting-room windows; streets with the solemn
 names of Saints, not a few of whom figured in the history of the early lords of Combray, such as the Rue Saint-Hilaire, 
the Rue Saint-Jacques, in which my aunt’s house stood, the Rue Sainte-Hildegarde, which ran past her railings, and 
the Rue du Saint-Esprit, on to which the little garden gate opened; and these Combray streets exist in so remote a quarter 
of my memory, painted in colours so different from those in which the world is decked for me to-day, that in fact one
 and all of them, and the church which towered above them in the Square, seem to me now more unsubstantial than
 the projections of my magic-lantern; while at times I feel that to be able to cross the Rue Saint-Hilaire again, 
to engage a room in the Rue de l’Oiseau, in the old hostelry of the Oiseau Flesché, from whose windows in the
 pavement used to rise a smell of cooking which rises still in my mind, now and then, in the same warm gusts 
of comfort, would be to secure a contact with the unseen world more marvellously supernatural than it would be
 to make Golo’s acquaintance and to chat with Geneviève de Brabant.“

Illiers Combray, Rue Saint-Hilaire

’‘They were rooms of that country order which (just as in certain climes whole tracts of air or ocean are illuminated
or scented by myriads of protozoa which we cannot see) fascinate our sense of smell with the countless odours
springing from their own special virtues, wisdom, habits, a whole secret system of life, invisible, superabundant and
profoundly moral, which their atmosphere holds in solution; smells natural enough indeed, and coloured by circumstances
 as are those of the neighbouring countryside, but already humanised, domesticated, confined, an exquisite, skilful,
limpid jelly, blending all the fruits of the season which have left the orchard for the store-room, smells changing
with the year, but plenishing, domestic smells, which compensate for the sharpness of hoar frost with the sweet savour
of warm bread, smells lazy and punctual as a village clock, roving smells, pious smells; rejoicing in a peace which brings
only an increase of anxiety, and in a prosiness which serves as a deep source of poetry to the stranger who passes through
their midst without having lived amongst them.The air of those rooms was saturated with the fine bouquet of a silence
so nourishing, so succulent, that I never went into them without a sort of greedy anticipation, particularly on those first
mornings, chilly still, of the Easter holidays, when I could taste it more fully because I had only just arrived in Combray”

Illiers Combray, Rue du Saint-Esprit
Illiers Combray

“While my aunt gossiped on in this way with Françoise I would have accompanied my parents to mass. How I loved it: 
how clearly I can see it still, our church at Combray! The old porch by which we went in, black, and full of holes as a cullender, 
was worn out of shape and deeply furrowed at the sides (as also was the holy water stoup to which it led us) just as if the gentle
 grazing touch of the cloaks of peasant-women going into the church, and of their fingers dipping into the water, had managed by
 agelong repetition to acquire a destructive force, to impress itself on the stone, to carve ruts in it like those made by cart-wheels 
upon stone gate-posts against which they are driven every day. Its memorial stones, beneath which the noble dust of the Abbots
 of Combray, who were buried there, furnished the choir with a sort of spiritual pavement, were themselves no longer hard
 and lifeless matter, for time had softened and sweetened them, and had made them melt like honey and flow beyond their 
proper margins, either surging out in a milky, frothing wave, washing from its place a florid gothic capital, drowning the
 white violets of the marble floor; or else reabsorbed into their limits, contracting still further a crabbed Latin inscription,
 bringing a fresh touch of fantasy into the arrangement of its curtailed characters, closing together two letters of some word
 of which the rest were disproportionately scattered. Its windows were never so brilliant as on days when the sun scarcely
 shone, so that if it was dull outside you might be certain of fine weather in church. One of them was filled from top to bottom
 by a solitary figure, like the king on a playing-card, who lived up there beneath his canopy of stone, between earth and heaven; 
and in the blue light of its slanting shadow, on weekdays sometimes, at noon, when there was no service (at one of those 
rare moments when the airy, empty church, more human somehow and more luxurious with the sun shewing off all its rich
 furnishings, seemed to have almost a habitable air, like the hall–all sculptured stone and painted glass–of some mediaeval
 mansion), you might see Mme. Sazerat kneel for an instant, laying down on the chair beside her own a neatly corded parcel
 of little cakes which she had just bought at the baker’s and was taking home for her luncheon. In another, a mountain of 
rosy snow, at whose foot a battle was being fought, seemed to have frozen the window also, which it swelled and distorted 
with its cloudy sleet, like a pane to which snowflakes have drifted and clung, but flakes illumined by a sunrise–the same, 
doubtless, which purpled the reredos of the altar with tints so fresh that they seemed rather to be thrown on it for a 
moment by a light shining from outside and shortly to be extinguished than painted and permanently fastened on the stone.”

Illiers-Combray, Place du Marché

“Well met, my friends!” he would say as he came towards us. “You are lucky to spend 
so much time here; to-morrow I have to go back to Paris, to squeeze back into my niche.“ 

 “Oh, I admit,” he went on, with his own peculiar smile, gently ironical, disillusioned and 
vague, “I have every useless thing in the world in my house there. The only thing wanting 
is the necessary thing, a great patch of open sky like this. Always try to keep a patch of sky
 above your life, little boy,” he added, turning to me. “You have a soul in you of rare quality,
 an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.” 

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way, 1913

 Illiers Combray, église Saint-Jacques

Combray is a commune in the Calvados department in Normandy in north-western France.

Combray is also an imagined village in Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu 
(In Search of Lost Time), a book which was strongly inspired by the village of his childhood,
 Illiers, which has now been renamed Illiers-Combray in his honor. Combray is the title of the 
first part of the first volume of À la recherche du temps perdu, titled Du côté de chez Swann
 (Swann’s Way).

Book//mark - Moravagine | Blaise Cendrars (1926)

Moravagine. Roman. Paris Grasset, 1926                                                                 Blaise Cendrars, c. 1907

Brain / War 

“ Is there a more monstrous thought, a more convincing spectacle, a more patent affirmation of the impotence and madness of the brain? War. All our philosophies, religions, arts, techniques and trades lead to nothing but this. The finest flowers of civilization. 
The purest constructions of thought. The most generous and altruistic passions of the heart. The most heroic gestures of man. War. Now and thousand years ago. Tomorrow and a hundred thousand years ago. No, it's not a ...more "...Is there a more monstrous thought, a more convincing spectacle, a more patent affirmation of the impotence and madness of the brain? War. All our philosophies, religions, arts, techniques and trades lead to nothing but this. The finest flowers of civilization. The purest constructions of thought. The most generous and altruistic passions of the heart. The most heroic gestures of man. War. Now and thousand years ago. Tomorrow and a hundred thousand years ago. No, it's not a question of your country, my German or French friend, or yours, whether you're black or white or Papuan or a Borneo monkey. It's a question of your life. If you want to live, kill. 
Kill so that you can be free, or eat, or shit. The shameful thing is to kill in masses, at a predetermined hour on a predetermined day, in honour of certain principles, under cover of a flag, with old men nodding approval, to kill in a disinterested or passive way. Stand alone against them all, young man, kill, kill, you are unique, you're the only man alive, kill until the others cut you short with the guillotine or the cord or the rope, with or without ceremony, in the name of the Community or King. What a laugh.” 

“Haven't you got it through your head that human thought is a thing of the past & that philosophy is worse than Bertillon's guide to harassed cops? You make me laugh with your metaphysical anguish, it's just that you're scared silly, frightened of life, of men of action, of action itself, of lack of order. But everything is disorder, dear boy. Vegetable, mineral & animal, all disorder, & so is the multitude of human races, the life of man, thought, history, wars, inventions, business & the arts, & all theories, passions & systems. It's always been that way. Why are you trying to make something out of it? And what will you make? What are you looking for? There is no Truth. There's only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust,stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. what can you do about it, my poor friend?” 

“One's life, from being an exterior thing, grows inwards. Its intensity stays the same; and, d'you know, it's most mysterious, the corners in which the joy of living can sometimes hide away.”

Anton Giulio Bragaglia


''Love is masochistic. These cries & complaints, these sweet alarms. this anguished state of lovers, this suspense, this latent pain that is just below the surface, almost unexpressed, these thousand & one anxieties over the loved one's absence, this feeling of time rushing by, this touchiness, these fits of temper, these long daydreams, this childish fickleness of behavior, this moral torture where vanity & self-esteem, or perhaps honor, upbringing & modesty are at stake, these highs & lows in the nervous tone, these leaps of imagination, this fetishism, this cruel precision of senses, whipping & probing, the collapse, the prostration, the abdication, the self-abasement, the perpetual loss & recovery of one's personality, these stammered words & phrases, these pet-names, this intimacy, these hesitations in physical contact, these epileptic tremors, these successive & even more frequent relapses, this more & more turbulent & stormy passion with its ravages progressing to the point of complete inhibition & annihilation of the soul, the debility of the senses, the exhaustion of the marrow, the erasure of the brain & even the desiccation of the heart, this yearning for ruin, for destruction, for mutilation, this need of effusiveness, of adoration, of mysticism, this insatiability which expresses itself in hyper-irritability of the of mucus membranes, in errant taste, in vasomotor or peripheral disorders, & which conjures up jealousy & vengeance, crimes, prevarications & treacheries, this idolatry, this incurable melancholy, this apathy, this profound moral misery, this definitive & harrowing doubt, this despair--are not all these stigmata the very symptoms of love in which we can first diagnose, then trace with a sure hand, the clinical curve of masochism?” 

“and only much later, when Mascha wanted a child, did I realize that love is a deadly poison, a vice, a vice that one wants to see shared, & that if one of the two involved is smitten, the other is often no more than a passive participant, or vixxtim, or possessed. And Moravagine was possessed.''

Anton Giulio Bragaglia

Health / Science 

“As a special branch of general philosophy, pathogenesis had never been explored. In my opinion it had never been approached in a strictly scientific fashion--that is to say, objectively, amorally, intellectually.'' 

'' Diseases are. We do not make or unmake them at will. We are not their masters. They make us, they form us. They may even have created us. They belong to this state of activity which we call life. They may be its main activity. They are one of the many manifestations of universal matter. They may be the principal manifestation of that matter which we will never be able to study except through the phenomena of relationships and analogies. Diseases are a transitory, intermediary, future state of health. It may be that they are health itself. 

Coming to a diagnosis is, in a way, casting a physiological horoscope.'' 

''So it is that health, recognized as a public Good, is only the sad mimic of some illness which has grown unfashionable, ridiculous and static, a solemnly doddering phenomenon which manages somehow to stand on its feet between the helping hands of its admirers, smiling at them with its false teeth. A commonplace, a physiological cliche, it is a dead thing. And it may be that health is death itself.'' 

''Epidemics, and even more diseases of the will or collective neuroses, mark off the different epochs of human evolution, just as tellurian cataclysms mark the history of our planet.” 

“Science is history arranged according to the superstition and taste of the moment. The vocabulary of scholars has no wit, no salt. These heavy tomes have no soul, they are filled with distress.” 

“Modern man has a need for simplification that tends to find its expression one way or another. And this artificial monotony which he takes pains to create, this monotony which is slowly taking over the world, this monotony is the sign of our greatness. It bears the mark of a certain will-power, the will to utility; it is the expression of utility, a law that governs all our modern activity: the Law of Utility.”

“Do not forget that when the heart petrifies there is no progress. All science must be like a fruit, so ordered that it may hang from a tree of the flesh & ripen in the sunlight of passion. Histology, photography, electric bells, telescopes, birds, amperes, smoothing irons, etc. -this is only good for bouncing off the arse of humanity.” 

''Intelligence consists of eating stars and turning them into dung. And the universe, at the most optimistic estimate, is nothing but God’s digestive system.''

Anton Giulio Bragaglia

Evil dream 

“A mud-stained sunlight began to splatter the sodden fields, and the hateful, nasal world of birds began to come to life. It seemed to me that I was coming out of a suffocating nightmare and that the low clouds flying before the wind were the shreds of an evil dream.” 

“Everything about them is blighted, dead. Feelings flake off & fall in dust. The senses, vitrified, can no longer experience pleasure; they crack at the least provocation. Each of us, within, was as if devoured by conflagration, & our hearts were no more than a pinch of ashes. Our souls were laid waste. For a long time now we had believed in nothing, not even nothingness. The nihilists of 1880 were a sect of mystics, dreamers, the routineers of universal happiness. We, of course, were poles apart from these credulous fools & their vaporous theories. We were men of action, technicians, specialists, the pioneers of a modern generation dedicated to death, the preachers of world revolution, the precursors of universal destruction, realists, realists. And there is no reality. What then? Destroy to rebuild or destroy to destroy? Neither the one nor the other. Angels or devils? No. You must excuse my smile: we were automats, pure & simple. We ran on like an idling machine until we were exhausted, pointlessly pointlessly, like life, like death, like a dream. Not even adversity had any charm for us.” 

“Each of us attempted to stem & hold fast the unending flood of his thoughts which tended to trickle off into that inner void. Our personalities were in an evanescent state, with sudden fits of remembering, faint intimations from the senses, irradiations from the subconscious, degenerate appetites & a most insidious lassitude. Everyone knows these little manikins of elder-pith that have a pellet of lead at the base so that they always stand up on their feet, no matter how one puts them down. Imagine that the leaden pellets are a little off center. One figure will lean to the right, another to the rear, another will bow its head or almost lie down. So it was with us. We had lost our balance, our sense of individuality, the perpendicular of our lives; our conscience was adrift, was sinking to the bottom, & we have no ballast to drop. We were out of kilter.” 

"All is palpitating. My prison disappears. The walls are struck down, there is a beating of wings. Life lifts me into the air like a gigantic vulture. At this height the earth is rounded like a breast. One can see through it's transparent crust the veins of the core with their scudding, red pulsations. On another side the rivers run, blue like arterial blood, and in the billions upon billions of creatures are hatching. Above, like dusky lungs, the oceans swell and fall in turn. The two glaciers eyes are close together and roll slowly in their sockets. Now see the double sphere of a forehead, the sudden crest of a nose, its flinty ledges, its steep walls. I fly across Mont Dore, hoarier than the head of Charlemagne, and land on the rim of the ear which yawns like a lunar crater. This is my eyrie. My hunting ground."

Anton Giulio Bragaglia

Earth / Mars 

''You are lovely as a stovepipe, smooth and rounded into yourself, elbowed. Your body is like an egg on the seashore. You are concentrated as rock salt and transparent as rock crystal. You are a prodigous blossoming, a motionless whirlpool. The abyss of light. You are like a sounding line that sinks to incalculable depths. You are like a blade of grass magnified a thousand times.'' 

"My eyes caught glimpses of vast expanses of sky, but the wheels rushed furiously in and destroyed any trace of it. Thy were turning in the depths of the sky, marking it with long, oily streaks! These grease marks spread, grew and took on colors and I could see a million eyes blinking in broad daylight. Enormous eyeballs were rolling from horizon to horizon, passing through each other. They all grew tiny, stationary and hard. A kind of translucent ectoplasm formed all around them, a kind of face: the face was my own. My face printed in hundreds of thousands of copies."

“There it was, in the utter darkness of the cavern, that I captured the loveliest forms of silence. I held them, they slid between my fingers, I recognized them by their feel. First, the five vowels, wild, apprehensive, watchful as vicuna; then, following down the spiral of the corridor, even narrower and lower, the edentate consonants, rolled into a ball in a scaly carapace, sleeping, wintering through the long months; farther still, the fricative consonants, smooth as eels, nibbling at my fingertips; then the weak ones, flabby, blind, often slobbering like white worms, and these I pinched with my nails, scratching their fibrils of prehistoric turf; then the hollow consonants, cold, cutting, corticate, which I gathered on the sand and collected like shells; and, at the very bottom, flat on my belly, leaning over a fissure, there among the roots, I felt god knows what poisoned sir come whipping at me, dtinging my face, while tiny animalcules skittered over my skin in the most ticklish places; they were spiral shaped and shaggy like a butterfly’s proboscis and let off sudden, raucous, husky sounds. It is noon. The sun pours boiling oil in the ear of the sleeping demiurge. The earth opens like an egg. Out of it surges a tongue, undulating and bloodshot. No, it is midnight. The tiny night-lamp is exhausting as an arc light. My ears are buzzing. My tongue is peeling. I make futile efforts to speak. I spit out a tooth, the dragon’s tooth.” 

''We were abandoned by everyone and each one of us lived all alone, in a rarified atmosphere, hunched over himself as if over a void.'' 

''Each of us sought rather to collect his most secret strengths, whose extreme dispersion was hollowing out a void in our depths, and to stabilize his thoughts whose inexhaustible flow was swallowed up in this abyss.''

'' We lived in little rooms built into the pediment of the building whose stone figures were hollow and could easily hide us. One of the large columns of the peristyle had been hollowed out. '' 

"the whole world was doing a Moravagine." 

“The only word in the Martian language is written phonetically: 


It means whatever you want it to mean.” 

''Seven . . . eight . . . nine . . . ten. I tied the two wires together. What surgical dexterity in the use of the pliers! What a disappointment! Nothing happens. I was expecting a terrible explosion. I listen, breathless. Nothing. And I thought I was going to blow up the world! Nothing.'' 

Blaise Cendrars, Moravagine, 1917 - 26

Blaise Cendrars, Self-Portrait man dislocated, 1907-1910 
Proof test pseudonym                                                           Blaise Cendrars hand


Beauty & Strangeness | Francis Bacon

Robert Doisneau, Le Bal des Débutantes in Paris,1950 
[Brigitte Bardot standing on the left]

"There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion." 

Francis Bacon. (1561–1626). Essays, Civil and Moral. 
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14

Memory laboratory | Marcel Proust

"We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory 
in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison."

 Marcel Proust


Γαλάτεια & Νίκος Καζαντζάκης | Ridi, pagliaccio (Γέλα, παλιάτσο) / Άνθρωποι και υπεράνθρωποι & μια κριτική

Η Γαλάτεια Καζαντζάκη το καλοκαίρι του 1912 στο Κράσι Ηρακλείου.

Μια απελπισμένη γυναίκα που ρίχνει τον εραστή της στην αγκαλιά άλλων γυναικών προκειμένου να «γελάσει με την αγωνία της». 

''4 Αυγούστου

 Την είχα γνωρίσει τώρα και δυο χρόνια σ’ ένα εκδοτικό κατάστημα όπου κατά τύχη είχαμε πάει κι οι δυο την ίδια ώρα ν’ αγοράσουμε βιβλία. Από τότε γενήκαμε φιλενάδες και για κάμποσο καιρό βλεπόμασταν συχνότατα. Εκείνη δεν είχε λόγια να με θαμάζει όπου πήγαινε κι εγώ δεν έβρισκα λόγια να τη χαραχτηρίσω. Ήταν ένας τύπος ρομαντικής γυναίκας δοσμένης όλης στα βιβλία που διάβαζε. Είχε αποχτήσει έτσι με τον καιρό ένα χαραχτήρα πολυσύνθετο κι αξεδιάλυτο, που δεν ταίριαζε σε κανένα χαραχτηρισμό ορισμένο. Τα ρομάντσα του 1830 και τα ρομάντσα του 1907 ήτανε κοπαδιασμένα στη φαντασία της και τη γέμιζαν από χίλιω λογιώ πεποίθησες κι ιδέες. Την πραγματική ζωή, τη ζωή του σπιτιού της, αυτή δεν την καταλάβαινε καθόλου. Ο άντρας της και τα παιδιά της ήτανε πρόσωπα από κάποια βιβλία που διάβασε, κι η ίδια ζούσε σ’ έναν κόσμο πολύ διαφορετικό του αληθινού. Ένας τύπος επιπόλαιος κι αιστηματικός, που δεν αγαπούσε και δε θάμαζε τίποτ’ άλλο από ό,τι της διηγιότανε ο ένας κι ο άλλος συγγραφέας και ποιητής. 

Το Λώρη τον γνώριζε από παλιά –πώς και πού δε φρόντισα να μάθω ποτέ– πριν να τη γνωρίσω εγώ. Έτσι ήξερε όλη την ιστορία της αγάπης μας από τον ίδιο, χωρίς γι’ αυτό να βρεθώ στην ανάγκη να της κάμω εγώ τέτοιου είδους εμπιστευτικές κουβέντες. Ποτέ όμως δε μου μιλούσε γι’ αυτόν κι απόφευγε μάλιστα καθετί που θα μας ανάγκαζε να τον αναφέρουμε. Κι εγώ είχα μάθει από το Λώρη, σαν του είπα πώς τη γνώρισα, πως άλλοτε, που ήταν γειτόνοι, είχανε αλληλογραφία κι ότι τα δικά της γράμματα μιλούσανε πάντα για κάποιο μέλλον που θα τους έφερνε κοντά. 

Γελούσαμε πολλές φορές με το Λώρη για τις αιστηματικές της αυτές εκδήλωσες… Μα ήταν τόσο δυστυχισμένη μες στο στενό κύκλο του σπιτιού της! Την αγαπούσε τόσο λίγο ο άντρας της, κι αυτή είχε μια τόσο μεγάλη ανάγκη από αγάπη! '' 

Γαλάτεια Καζαντζάκη, Ridi, pagliaccio (Γέλα, παλιάτσο), Ο Νουμάς, 1909

 Από αριστερά: Κώστας Βάρναλης, Χαρίλαος Στεφανίδης, Νίκος Καζαντζάκης, Γαλάτεια Καζαντζάκη, Κράσι Κρήτης, 1912

Κυριακή 14 Ιουνίου 1909 

Η Γαλάτεια Αλεξίου. Ενα από τα ωραιότερα και σπαραχτικότερα θεάματα που είδα στη ζωή μου. 

Την κοιτάζω πολλές φορές να γοργοπερνά την αγορά και τα στενά σοκάκια μας και να στηλώνει αυθάδικα στους διαβάτες τα μάτια της τα μεγάλα, τα πολύξερα, τα γεμάτα. Και βλέπω τους διαβάτες να χαμηλώνουνε τα μάτια τους ταραγμένοι κι ανήσυχοι-λες και κάποιον είδανε να σκύφτει απάνω στην ψυχή τους και να κοιτάζει περιφρονητικά τη φριχτήν ασκήμια της. 

Εμείς οι άντρες, δεν μπορούμε να νοιώσομε­ πόσο μια ψυχή ντελικάτη πικραίνεται κι αηδιάζει, θωρώντας έτσι τους άντρες να εξευτελίζονται και να πέφτουν. 

Οι μεγάλες λέξες που απατούν και υπνωτίζουν την κάθε γυναίκα, δεν την απατούν και δεν την υπνωτίζουν-απεναντίας, την εξεγείρουν και την αναταράζουν και της δίνουν μιαν επαναστατική και βλοσυρή ανάταση θυμού και καταφρόνιας. Πρέπει κανείς πολύ ν αγαπήσει και πολύ νʼ απατηθεί για να φτάσει στην απαρηγόρητη αυτή και βαθιοστόχαστη αντίληψη της κουφότητας κι αδειοσύνης κάποιων μεγάλων φανφαρόνικων λέξεων. 

Χωρίς ρομαντικότητες και λιγοθυμητά παιδίστικα μπροστά στα ηλιογέρματα κι αναστενάγματα υστερικά κάτω από το φεγγάρι, χωρίς αιστηματικότητες ερωτικές, ως θάταν φυσικό στα εικοσιπέντε της τα χρόνια και στην ομορφιά του κορμιού της-κοιτάζει μια διαπεραστική βαθύτητα και τις πιο ασήμαντες λεπτομέρειες της ζωής και βρίσκει σε μια βίζιτα, σε μια φλυαρία φιλενάδας της, σε μια συζήτηση, σ έναν περίπατο, σ ένα χορό, σε χίλια δυό καθεμερνά και πολυσυνηθισμένα, τα κρυφά μικρούτσικα ελατήρια που κινούνε κ εξηγούν όλη μας τη ζωή. 

Η ειρωνεία της που πονεί και σπαρταρά ανάμεσα στα χτυπητά της γέλια, η ειλικρίνειά της που κάνει κακό έτσι απότομα που λέγεται κ έτσι ωμά που ρήχνεται, η παρατηρητικότητά της η αδιάκριτη, που σε κάνει και χαμηλώνεις το βλέμμα, ζητώντας του κόσμου να κρύψεις τη σκέψη σου, που τη διαβάζει. Εκείνη, αδιάφορη και περιφρονητική, απάνω στο μέτωπό Σου, και τέλος η απογοήτεψή της, που την κάνει να θέτει με κάποιαν αριστοκρατικιά ναυτίαση όλα τα πράματα κι όλα τα πρόσωπα στη θέση που τους ταιριάζει, αποσπώντας με οργή αποπάνω τους τις αποκριάτικες μάσκες της φαινομενικής τους λαμπρότητας. 

Είναι ίσως πρόληψη, ίσως συνήθεια, ίσως ανάγκη ψυχολογική, τη γυναίκα να τη θέλομε τελείως γυναίκα, αδύνατη κ ευκολόσπαστη κ ευκολοσυγκίνητη, που να μισεί την αλήθεια ως κάτι τι ενάντια στον προορισμό της και ν αγαπά “φύσει” την ψευτιά και την υποκρισία και τις χίλιες δυό απόχρωσες του ατλαζιού και τις χίλιες δυo ηδονικές ανατριχίλες της θάλασσας και της γάτας. 

Το να δείχνει κανείς το σώμα του δεν είναι τόσο άσεμνο όσο να δείχνει την ψυχή του και μια Γυναίκα πρέπει να κρύβει τις πληγές της καρδιάς της πολύ πιο προσεχτικά και πολύ πιο σεμνά παρ όσο κρύβει το στήθος της. 

Κ έτσι και μόνο μπορώ να εξηγήσω τ αντιφατικά συναιστήματα-του θαυμασμού και της δυσφορίας-που μου γεννά το Ridi Pagliacio. 

Νίκος Καζαντζάκης / Νουμάς, φύλλο 348 / αποσπάσματα

* Το άρθρο αυτό αποτέλεσε την αφορμή της συνάντησης τους.

Ο Νίκος Καζαντζάκης με τη Γαλάτεια

''Ο Αλέξανδρος, αυτά λέγουνταν στην ανατολική βεράντα, κοίταζε το γιομάτο φεγγάρι μέσα από τα δέντρα κ' ήτανε σα να μην την άκουε. Όχι, δεν ήτανε εκείνη που του ταίριαζε. Στον Αλέξανδρο θα ταίριαζε μια γυναίκα ή απλοϊκή κι αγαθή, ή πονηρή. Η Δανάη δεν ήταν ούτε το ένα ούτε το άλλο. Πολλές φορές ωστόσο κάθιζε στο σκαμνί τον εαυτό της. Γιατί μπέρδευε ολοένα τον άνθρωπο με το συγγραφέα; Ο άνθρωπος της είχε φταίξει, όχι ο συγγραφέας. Κι αυτή είχε αγαπήσει τον συγγραφέα. Μόνο αυτόν. Την ιδιότητα που τον ξεχώριζε απ' όλους τους νέους του τόπου, αυτήν είχε αγαπήσει. Αυτή την ξετρέλλανε. Αν δεν έγραφε, σίγουρα δεν θα τον πρόσεχε. Γιατί λοιπόν δεν της έφτανε η πραγματοποίηση του ονείρου να ζει πλάι του, κάτω από την ίδια στέγη και νάναι οι δυο τους το εξωτικό ζευγάρι που οι νέοι τους φίλοι τόσο αγαπούσαν και το χαίρουνταν; Γιατί; Γιατί όσα της είχε αρνηθεί ο άνθρωπος, της τ' αρνιόταν κι ο δημιουργός. Να γιατί.

 Όμως η Δανάη έκανε όρκο να μην του φερθεί ποτέ έτσι σαν εκείνο το βράδυ… Θα περιμένει… Ποιος ξέρει… Μπορεί νάτανε ακόμα νωρίς. Κι άλλοι μεγάλοι τεχνίτες είχανε τα κουσούρια τους. Ο Βερλαίν ήτανε αρσενοκοίτης και έφτασε να γενεί φονηάς, πήγε φυλακή. Ο Πόου πέθανε στο δρόμο αλκοολικός. Ο Ντοστογιέβσκη έχανε στη ρουλέττα ακόμα και τα καθημερινά έξοδα του σπιτιού του… Με τη διαφορά, συλλογιόταν πάλι, πως αυτωνών τα κουσούρια ήτανε τα πάθη τους, ενώ τα κουσούρια του Αλέξανδρου φανέρωναν ίσα-ίσα πως ήτανε στερημένος κι από τα πιο κοινά ανθρώπινα αισθήματα. Κι όταν αυτά λείπουν, ό,τι κι αν πούμε στην τέχνη δε θάναι «χαλκός ήχων και κύμβαλον αλαλάζον;»''

 Γαλάτεια Καζαντζάκη,  Άνθρωποι και υπεράνθρωποι, 1957

* μυθιστορηματική μεταφορά της σχέσης της με το Νίκο Καζαντζάκη.

Ο Νίκος Καζαντζάκης στη Βουλιαγμένη με τη Γαλάτεια, τη Λιλίκα Νάκου και την Καίτη Παπαϊωάννου. 1920

''O Kαζαντζάκης βάζει με ζηλευτή ευκολία τους ήρωές του να απαρνιούνται δύο αγαθά 
που δεν γνώρισε ποτέ: Το σεξ και τον πλούτο'' 

''Ήταν ουτοπιστής και δονκιχωτικός, ακριβώς γιατί ήταν και δειλός και 
μανιακός φιλόδοξος.'' 

“Τραγικοί είναι όσοι στέκουνε τόσο παραπονεμένοι έξω απ’ τη ζωή, τόσο 
μακριά απ’ τον άνθρωπο, σαν καταραμένοι”. 

"Ο Καζαντζάκης είχε μια κακή συνήθεια: δεν αλάφρωνε ποτέ τα γραφτά του,
 ούτε και τη ζωή του, από τα περιττά." 

Νίκος Καζαντζάκης: Ενας τραγικός, Λιλή Ζωγράφου, 1959, μελέτη

Ο Νίκος Καζαντζάκης με τη Γαλάτεια στην Αθήνα το 1915

Γαλάτεια Αλεξίου (1881-1962)

Γεννήθηκε στο Η­ράκλειο της Κρήτης, είχε τρία μικρότερα αδέρφια το Ραδάμανθυ, το Λευτέρη και την Έλλη. Σπούδασε σε γαλλικό σχολείο και από νεαρή ηλικία ξεκίνησε να δημοσιεύει ποιήματα και μεταφράσεις με το ψευδώνυμο Lalo de Castro. Επεσήμανε από τους πρώτους την αξία του Καβάφη, έγραψε κάποια από τα πρώτα αναγνωστικά στη δημοτική γλώσσα. Το 1911 παντρεύτηκε τον συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη και εγκαταστάθηκε στην Αθήνα. Το 1926 χώρισε με τον Ν. Καζαντζάκη και το 1933 παντρεύτηκε τον ποιητή και κριτικό Μάρκο Αυγέρη. Λόγω της συμμετοχής της στην αριστερή πρωτοπορία, η μεταξική δικτατορία τη συνέλαβε και της στέρησε το δικαίωμα να δημοσιογραφεί, ενώ αργότερα, μετά την Απελευθέρωση, απολύθηκε λό­γω «κοινωνικών φρονημάτων» από τη θέση της στη βιβλιοθήκη του Δήμου Αθηναίων.


Ride a bicycle | Arthur Conan Doyle

Sid Avery, Audrey Hepburn riding her bike at Paramount Studios, 1957

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope 
hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought 
on anything but the ride you are taking.” 

Arthur Conan Doyle


Letter to Véra Slonim | Vladimir Nabokov (1923)

Vladimir Nabokov and Véra, his future wife, Berlin, 1924

c 26 July 1923

“I won’t hide it. I’m so unused to being - well, understood, perhaps, - so unused to it, that in the very first 
minutes of our meeting I thought: this is a joke, a masquerade trick.“

"There are things that are hard to talk about - you’ll rub off their marvelous pollen at the touch of a word.”

“Your letters they are lovely like the white nights”

“You are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought - and about 
how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds.”

"I will be in Berlin on the 10th or 11th … And if you’re not there I will come to you, and find you …"

“See you soon my strange joy, my tender night.”

Excerpts from the first letter Vladimir (then known by the pen-name Vladimir Sirin) wrote to Véra Slonim, 
after meeting her at a charity ball attended by Russian émigrés in Berlin, in May of 1923 when she was 19 and he 22.

On directing > Suspense / Fear / Drama | Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980

Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960) dir. Alfred Hitchcock


“There is a distinct difference between "suspense" and "surprise," and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. 
I'll explain what I mean.

 We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let's suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us.
Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this
surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation.
The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it
there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public
can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating
because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen:
"You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!"

 In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second
we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must
be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of
the story.”

 “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins on the set of Psycho (1960)


“Fear isn't so difficult to understand. After all, weren't we all frightened as children? Nothing has changed since 
Little Red Riding Hood faced the big bad wolf. What frightens us today is exactly the same sort of thing that
frightened us yesterday. It's just a different wolf. This fright complex is rooted in every individual.”

“I'm a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”

“I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes …
have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?
Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it.”

“I have never known birds of different species to flock together. The very concept is unimaginable.
Why, if that happened, we wouldn't stand a chance! How could we possibly hope to fight them?”

"I'm not against the police; I'm just afraid of them."

"I am scared easily, here is a list of my adrenaline - production: 1: small children, 2: policemen,
3: high places, 4: that my next movie will not be as good as the last one."

“I’m full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications.
I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm.”

"In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man."

“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”

Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960) dir. Alfred Hitchcock


“Logic is dull.” Drama is life with the dull bits cut out."

''Puns are the highest form of literature.”

“If I won't be myself, who will?” Self-plagiarism is style."

“I'm a writer and, therefore, automatically a suspicious character.”

“T.V. has brought murder back into the home where it belongs.”

“Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes
out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.”

“I never said actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.”

“I can't read fiction without visualizing every scene. The result is it becomes a series of pictures
rather than a book.”

“I'm sure anyone who likes a good crime, provided it is not the victim.”

“I have a feeling that inside you somewhere, there's somebody nobody knows about.”

Anthony Perkins -  Janet Leigh / Psycho (1960) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

“Gee, I'm sorry I didn't hear you in all this rain. Go ahead in, please."

 Anthony Perkin's Norman Bates talking to Janet Leigh's Marion Crane.

 “Weren't you ever booed at by your mother?!”

 Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980

Jeanloup Sieff, Alfred Hitchcock and model Ina Balke on the set of Psycho, 1962 

Psycho, 1960
Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh  and Vera Miles / Written by Joseph Stefano /
Based on the novel by Robert Bloch / Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Alphabetarion # The sun | Leo Tolstoy

Annelise Kretschmer, Portrait au soleil, 1930

“He stepped down, avoiding any long look at her as one avoids long looks at the sun, 
but seeing her as one sees the sun, without looking.” 

 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, (1873-1877)

The Artist's Duty | Kenneth Patchen (1941)

Harry Redl, Kenneth Patchen with a collection of his painted books on the rooftop of his apartment house in San Francisco, 1957

So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame
To extend all boundaries
To fog them in right over the plate
To kill only what is ridiculous
To establish problem
To ignore solutions
To listen to no one
To omit nothing
To contradict everything
To generate the free brain
To bear no cross
To take part in no crucifixion
To tinkle a warning when mankind strays
To explode upon all parties
To wound deeper than the soldier
To heal this poor obstinate monkey once and for all

To verify the irrational
To exaggerate all things
To inhibit everyone
To lubricate each proportion
To experience only experience

To set a flame in the high air
To exclaim at the commonplace alone
To cause the unseen eyes to open

To admire only the abrsurd
To be concerned with every profession save his own
To raise a fortuitous stink on the boulevards of truth and beauty
To desire an electrifiable intercourse with a female alligator
To lift the flesh above the suffering
To forgive the beautiful its disconsolate deceit

To flash his vengeful badge at every abyss


It is the artist’s duty to be alive
To drag people into glittering occupations

To blush perpetually in gaping innocence
To drift happily through the ruined race-intelligence
To burrow beneath the subconscious
To defend the unreal at the cost of his reason
To obey each outrageous inpulse
To commit his company to all enchantments.

Kenneth Patchen, The Journal of Albion Moonlight, 1941

A day without laughter | Nicolas Chamfort

Alfred Eisenstaedt, Drum Major at the University of Michigan, 1950

"The most wasted day of all is that in which we have not laughed.”

Nicolas Chamfort 

Sébastien-Roch Nicolas, also known as Chamfort (1741 – 1794), was a French writer, best known
 for his witty epigrams and aphorisms. He was secretary to Louis XVI's sister, and of the Jacobin club.

Book//mark - Never Any End to Paris [the artist as a young writer] | Enrique Vila-Matas

“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”

 Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, 1964

Edouard Boubat, Waiting for a date at the Café Vache Noir, Paris, 1957

“I went to Paris and was very poor and very unhappy.”

“I was full of doubts, of course, not a particularly bad way to be, but I didn’t know that. Doubting so much made me suffer, but I could have saved myself the anxiety and simply doubted, without any problem. I was unaware that to doubt is to write.”

“Am I a lecture or a novel?”

”Among the many fictions possible, an autobiography can also be a fiction”. Another silence followed. “But try,” he added, “to be as truthful as you can, so you can be seen as you really are. And if possible, portray me as I’m really not."

“I think I have the right to be able to see myself differently from how others see me, to see myself however I want and not to be forced to be this person other people have decided I am.”

“I like Paris—the Place de Furstenberg, number 27, Rue Fleurus, the Moreau Museum, Tristan Tzara’s tomb, the pink arcades on Rue Nadja, the bar Au Chien qui Fume, the blue façade of the Hotel Vaché, the bookstalls on the riverbank,”

“I like Paris so much that there is never any end to the city for me.”

“If literature was possible it was because the world wasn’t made.”

Frank Horvat , Le restaurant “Le Chien qui Fume”, Quartier des Halles, Paris, 1957

“From that day on, I annoyed my friends less with this idea of dying by my own hand, but for a long time I maintained my belief—which wasn’t completely destroyed until August of this year—in the intrinsic elegance of despair. Until I discovered how inelegant it is to walk, sad, in despair, dead, through the streets of your neighborhood in Paris. I realized it this August. And ever since I’ve been finding elegance in happiness. “I have embarked on the study of metaphysics several times, but happiness always interrupted,” said Macedonio Fernandez. Now, I think going through the world without experiencing the joy in living, rather than elegant, is just so humdrum. Fernando Savater said that the Castilian saying to take things philosophically does not mean to be resigned to things, or to take things seriously, but rather to take them happily. Of course. After all, we have all eternity to despair.”

René-Jacques, Pigalle Paris, 1950’s                              André Kertesz, Daisy Bar, Paris, 1930 -34

“You’ll see me improvise on occasion. like right now when, before going on to read my ironic revision of the two years of my youth in Paris, i feel compelled to tell you that i do know that irony plays with fire and, while mocking others, sometimes ends up mocking itself. you all know full well what i’m talking about. when you pretend to be in love you run the risk of feeling it, he who parodies without proper precautions ends up a victim just the same… that said, i must also warn you that when you hear me say, for example, that there was never any end to paris, i will most likely be saying it ironically. but, anyway, i hope not to overwhelm you with too much irony. the kind that i practice has nothing to do with that which arises from desperation- i was stupidly desperate enough when i was young. i like a kind of irony i call benevolent, compassionate, like what we find, for example, in the best of Cervantes. i don’t like ferocious irony but rather the kind that vacillates between disappointment and hope. okay?”

“Irony, the highest form of sincerity.”

“The Lettered Assassin.”

“I suspected that by killing off my readers, I was never going to find anyone who would love me.”

Enrique Vila-Matas, Never Any End to Paris, 2003
tr. Anne McLean

Alphabetarion # Insight | Marshall McLuhan, 1962

“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” 

Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, 1962

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