I must not think of the solar system — of innumerable galaxies spanned by countless light years — of infinities of space — I must not look up at the sky for longer than a moment — I must not think of death, of forever - I must not do all those things so that I will not know these horrible moments when my mind seems a tangible thing - more than my mind — my whole spirit — all that animates me and is the original and responsive desire that constitutes my “self” — all this takes on a definite shape and size — far too large to be contained by the structure I call my body - All this pulls and pushes- years and strains (I feel it now) until I must clench my fists — I rise — who can keep still — every muscle is on a rack - striving to build itself into immensity — I want to scream — my stomach feels compressed — my legs, feet, toes stretching until they hurt.
Susan Sontag, Reborn
Dear Miss Plath,
I’m sorry we decided against these poems. We like the second section of AMNESIAC very much, but cannot see any relation between it and the first section. Perhaps we’re being dense. But would you think over the possibility of printing the second section alone under that title? If you would care to resubmit it that way, we’d be happy to consider it again.
A rejection letter sent to Sylvia Plath.
Witold and Rita Gombrowitz with Psina
Klosterneuburg near Vienna, on the River Danube. Water color by Adolf Hitler (1911)
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the triumph of Vienna was a sense of civilization. One of the consequences of cultural success can be political naivety. The lesson still applies today, when so many members of the international intelligentsia - which, broadly interpreted, means us - continue to believe that culture can automatically hold civilization together. But there is nothing automatic about it, because nothing can be held together without the rule of law.
Clive James, Cultural Amnesia