rlbourges

Between, Before, Otherwise

In Current reading, En français dans le texte, Irish Mist, Local projects, Music, Revision on September 8, 2014 at 5:20 am

Pascal Quignard’s Les Ombres errantes. There may be other writers as far removed from the Dan Brown/Tom Clancy universe, but this one book happens to be part of the trove I picked up at the médiathèque’s book sale.

“Nous avons connu la vie avant que le soleil n’éblouisse nos yeux et nous y avons entendu quelque chose qui ne se pouvait voir ni lire.” (We have known life before the sun dazzled our eyes and there we have heard something that could not be seen nor read.)

There are many more such sentences in Les Ombres errantes. Many others I skip over, at least, for the time being. One paragraph I doubt I can translate well. The point being a crucial notion pertaining to lost civilizations, languages, people.  In speaking of them, Quignard writes:

Les langues qui ne connaissent plus de bouches pour les dire, on les dit même mortes. Ce sont pourtant des trésors de joie qui s’accumulent. S’accumulant cette joie se concentre. La signification, la surprise ne s’en sont pas enfuies.” (We call dead, those languages that no longer know mouths to speak them. Yet, they are treasuries of joy that accumulate. In accumulating, this joy concentrates. Meaning and surprise have not fled from them. The future that is to come must not occur, but surprise.)

All this seems far from the mainstream, be it of fiction or of daily living. And yet, what exists between the lines, what happens before the first word in the scene – be it real or fictional – what gets done otherwise than in the expected way: all unexplored treasure troves. Surprising finds. Small is not a synonym for insignificant.

Local projects about to engulf large swaths of available time. Getting up before daybreak, all windows open to the night. The first bowl of coffee taken in the uncertain light from two street lamps below. Small pools of time outside the given and the planned. Moodling time. Then, into the rush again.  

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