To Live the Questions Now

4 October 2013
3:01 PM


I can’t make myself do anything today. There are things I want, and I find that they have no name. They’re just there, on the periphery, and I am unable to hold them, or think about them with clarity.

Here is something from my notes last year, in relation to the discussion of Gertrude Stein on nouns (“A noun is the name of anything…A noun is a name of everything.”):

“It is this thing and it is nothing, but it is everything because I say it is everything and nothing at all. To be is important but to be named not, but not to be named is important, but not to be not named is also important, because I named you by refusing to name you and because I did not name you by refusing to name you, you in turn named it, but naming is not important. So why name at all? Why be at all?”

I can’t remember if it was a classmate who wrote that, or if it came from me. It doesn’t feel like mine. But it feels right.

And here are more letters, for myself, but also for you:

“Therefore, Lucilius, do as you write me that you are doing: hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of today’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon tomorrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing, Lucilius, is ours, except time.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca in a letter to his friend, Lucilius Junior

“Try to understand me: I love you while paying attention to external things. At Toulouse I simply loved you. Tonight I love you on a spring evening. I love you with the window open. You are mine, and things are mine, and my love alters the things around me and the things around me alter my love.”

Jean-Paul Sartre in a letter to Simone De Beauvoir

“…it’s been a long road since then, but pressure never ends in this life. ‘perforation problems’ by the way means to me also the holes that will always exist in any story we try to make of our lives. so hang on, my love, and grow big and strong and take your hits and keep going.”

Iggy Pop in a reply to a fan letter

I am afloat perhaps. Sad and not sad, happy and unhappy. Life is, and will. Life asks, and gives, and takes, and I am sitting at my desk and wondering what this all means.

“I tell you that I have a long way to go before I am—where one begins…

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke, On Love and Other Difficulties

It is afternoon, and it is raining again. The sky washes away the dust, and the wind brings it back.



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