Time present and time past

 

Δεν μπορώ αυτή τη στιγμή να σκεφτώ άλλο κείμενο που να μου προκαλεί το ίδιο δέος με τα Τέσσερα Κουαρτέτα του Τ. Σ. Έλιοτ. Το ίδιο δέος με τους πρώτους στίχους του Burnt Norton.

 

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

 

 

Κι εγώ που δεν διαβάζω

 

Περί ποιήσεως

Κι εσύ που ξέρεις από ποίηση
κι εγώ που δεν διαβάζω
κινδυνεύουμε.
Εσύ να χάσεις τα ποιήματα
κι εγώ τις αφορμές τους.

 

Μιχάλης Γκανάς, Ποιήματα 1978-2012 (εκδ. Μελάνι, από τη συλλογή Τα Μικρά, εκδ. Καστανιώτης, 2000)

 

 

Χρόνος και μνήμη, πάλι και πάντα

 

I started keeping a diary twenty-five years ago. It’s eight hundred thousand words long.

I didn’t want to lose anything. That was my main problem. I couldn’t face the end of a day without a record of everything that had ever happened.

I wrote about myself so I wouldn’t become paralysed by rumination—so I could stop thinking about what had happened and be done with it.

More than that, I wrote so I could say I was truly paying attention. Experience in itself wasn’t enough. The diary was my defence against waking up at the end of my life and realising I’d missed it.

Imagining life without the diary, even one week without it, spurred a panic that I might as well be dead.

[…]

Could I claim a memory even if I couldn’t access it via language? Or was I writing as if it never had happened?

I didn’t mind that perception is partial or that recollection is worse, but I minded that I didn’t know why I remembered what I remembered—or why I thought I remembered what I remembered.

[…]

The best thing about time passing is the privilege of running out of it, of watching the wave of mortality break over me and everyone I know. No more time, no more potential. The privilege of ruling things out. Finishing. Knowing I’m finished. And knowing time will go on without me.

Look at me, dancing my little dance for a few moments against the background of eternity.

[…]

Why, then, should I continue writing the diary?

In it I digest the time that passes, file it away so I no longer need to think about it, and if I spent all my time thinking about the past I’d stop moving into the future, I begin to write, but no—I’d keep moving. How ridiculous to believe myself powerful enough to stop time just by thinking.

There’s no reason to continue writing other than that I started writing at some point—and that, at some other point, I’ll stop.

 

Ένα μικρό αριστούργημα: Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Graywolf Press, 2015).

 

On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven

 

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds; oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spell-bound under the aging sun.
Music my rampart, and my only one.

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven

 

 

By the way, have you heard the Beethoven Violin Concerto?

 

Από επιστολή του Λώρενς Ντάρελ προς τον Χένρι Μίλερ, τον Αύγουστο του 1936:

 

By the way, have you heard the Beethoven Violin Concerto? There’s something of the terrifying pathology about the themes that there is in Hamlet. The fusion of the dream with reality that you like so much. But how disciplined by the person. How personal in fact. I think I don’t know what I mean.

 

The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-1980, επιμ. Ian S. MacNiven (Faber & Faber, 1989)

 

εδώ το κοντσέρτο για βιολί του Μπετόβεν (op. 61, βιολί: Maxim Vengerov)

 

 

 

Under Beethoven’s own eyes

 

Το 1825 ο Μπετόβεν έχει χάσει την ακοή του, συνθέτει όμως το χρονικά πρώτο από τα τελευταία αριστουργηματικά κουαρτέτα εγχόρδων του, το κουαρτέτο no 12 (op. 127). Ο βιολιστής Joseph Böhm γράφει για τις πρόβες ενόψει της πρεμιέρας του έργου:

 

The quartet was rehearsed frequently under Beethoven’s own eyes. I said Beethoven’s eyes intentionally, for the unhappy man was so deaf that he could no longer hear the heavenly sound of his compositions. And yet rehearsing in his presence was not easy. With close attention his eyes followed the bows and therefore he was able to judge the smallest fluctuations in tempo or rhythm and correct them immediately. At the close of the last movement of this quartet there occurred a meno vivace, which seemed to me to weaken the general effect. At the rehearsal, therefore, I advised that the general tempo be maintained, which was done, to the betterment of the effect.
Beethoven, crouched in a corner, heard nothing, but watched with strained attention. After the last stroke of the bows he said, laconically, «Let it remain so,» went to the desk and crossed out the meno vivace in the four parts.

 

 

The Beethoven Quartet Companion, επιμ. Robert Winter & Robert Martin (University of California Press, 1994)

 

το κουαρτέτο no 12, op. 127, του Μπετόβεν, από το Alban Berg Quartet