A JOURNAL OF EXTREMITY

Anne Carson, "The Albertine Workout"

"The people Marcel loves are people in motion. Like Albertine— always speeding off somewhere on a bike, on a train, in a car, on a horse or flown out the window; like Marcel’s mother, perpetually on her way up the stairs to kiss him good night; like his grandmother, striding up and down the garden every evening for her constitutional even when it’s pouring rain; or like his friend Robert de Saint-Loup, whom we first glimpse scampering along the top of the banquette in a restaurant to fetch a coat for Marcel, who sits huddled and shivering at the table. Marcel is still the centre of all this kinetic activity, he is like the flying arrow in Zeno’s second paradox, which is shot from the bow but never arrives at its target because it does not move. Why does Zeno’s arrow not move? Because (this is Aristotle’s explanation) the motion of the arrow would be a series of instants, and at each instant the arrow fills the entire space of that instant, and this (Zeno would say) is a description of stillness. So if you add all the instants of stillness together you still get still. No one would deny that Proust’s novel streams with time, and with arrows shooting in all directions. But you could also think of the whole novel in your mind as one big stopped instant, since it takes Marcel the entire three thousand pages of the story to get around to the point of beginning to write it. On the last page he shoots his arrow but he does Zeno one better, he shoots it backwards, since you have just finished reading the novel he is proposing to write. It gives me a bit of a headache to think about Zeno and his paradoxes for very long, although I enjoy his deadpan delivery. Here is a shot of Zeno-antidote from that devoted Proust-scholar, the filmmaker Chris Marker (Sans Solieil): “This is how history advances, plugging its memory as one plugs one’s ears…[but] a moment stopped would burn like a flame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector.”

Stéphane Mallarmé, "The Swan"

Brin-Jonathan Butler's, "A Cuban Boxer's Journey: Guillermo Rigondeaux, from Castro's Traitor to American Champion"

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