One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Car je est un autre: For I is another (Rimbaud)

Herbert's title essay, "Still Life With A Bridle," starts with a nod to the Polish artist/author Jozef Czapski: For Jozef Czapski, and a quote from Arthur Rimbaud: Car je est un autre (For I is another). A brief footnote says it is from a letter to Paul Demeny, May 15, 1871. It does not give the context.

Luckily I have Rimbaud's "Selected Letters," and fortunately this one made the cut (I give below only the paragraph which this declaration begins; I give only Wallace Fowlie's translation):

    For I is someone else. If brass wakes up a trumpet, it is not its fault. This is obvious to me: I am present at this birth of my thought: I watch it and listen to it: I draw a stroke of the bow: the symphony makes its stir in the depths, or comes on to the stage in a leap.
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Initially my eyes jumped to the fragment of a letter just before this one (written to Georges Izambard, May 13, 1871), because a very similar phrase was there (minus the car = for):
    I is someone else. It is too bad for the wood which finds itself a violin and scorn for the heedless who argue over what they are totally ignorant of!

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