The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Jabes (trans. Waldrop):

"For all my being bound to the French language, I know the place I occupy
in the literature of France is not strictly speaking a place. It is not so
much the place of a writer as of a book which does not fit any category. A
place defined, then, by the book and immediately claimed by the book to
follow. A place of writing vacated by what is written, as if every page of
the book let us occupy it only to give access to the next page, as if the
book made and unmade itself in an appropriated space which, once covered
with words, becomes the space of the book.

"And it is likewise within the large movement which has carried my works
to their illusory completion.

"There is no center. There is a point which engenders another point around
which an eccentric utterance establishes itself, an interrogation
develops. It is the point of no return.

"This absence of place, as it were, I claim. It confirms that the book is
my only habitat, the first and also the final. Place of a vaster non-place
where I live."

This I identify with. Every text of mine, like the Net of Indra, reflects
every other. Each deals with, extends, the themes; the result, a family of
themes, never returns to an illusory origin. Each moves in a direction as
far as possible from the conception of a center. Each negates the tendency
towards an absolute, constructs skeins or membranes where others might
find ladders or stairs. The beds are tilted; the windows don't close, the
doors are always open. The night that is upon us is also the day; the day
has many suns. It doesn't stop there.

I close my eyes; I create the objects of which I claim witness. They smell
of musk.


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