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Issue 10 - A Journal of Letters and Life
Critiques & Reviews
Signs and Symptoms
by Robert Gal

translated from the Slovak by Charles Sabatos

Author's Links

If thinking is painful, what else is a thinker, if not a masochist?


In the reflection of the water-mirror the surface of translucence points to its hidden elemental nature. Memory is in the trace of reflections which we conceal like one and the same jewel. Its strangeness is a boomerang.


Patience is a measure of argument.
     In the dialectic of action, there is no space for excessive expectation. What remains for us is the pragmatics of life rationalized by thought, elevated through prejudice to a higher principle.
     Patience has no limits. If "living means constantly creating life" (Chardin), then "time means that time is constantly being borne" (Gal).
     Time is a permanent argument, whose core is unknown. One part of its movement is drawn to confirming, the other to confuting. Its meaning remains unknown; yet, at the same time, it is gradually, seemingly overturned with the haste of expectation.
     Acknowledging the legitimacy of eternal claims of the unknown to unfulfilled revelation shows that the only measure of argument is the patience of waiting.


The tale of F.:
     "My only possessions were intellect and feeling. The systematic development of my intellect ordered me to set out on a journey, with such strides that it meant avoiding feeling. On the contrary, with a thorough ennobling of feeling, I learned to subdue my excitement over the perfection of logical signs, and that took away my taste for further research. The oft-repeated truth held tight the lie within itself: the lie of eternity. In a passive moment of disturbance, the weight of my formulas started to tremble right between my eyes. I ended up in the hospital -- or in jail -- I don't remember anymore. In the meantime, years had gone by. Today, I live in Jerusalem, I sleep in a human-sized kennel, and I don't need to work too hard to survive. I'm corresponding by email with a German girl named Tristen. Otherwise, I'm attending the university. There's another girl there who I like, because she's 'kind of funny.' Some people might think that I'm not completely normal, but I know that I represent an alternate way of life -- and that suits me just fine. I'm going to buy a big motorcycle and I'll live in Australia. That's what I've decided."


"Create your mask in your own image," resounds the imperative of embodiment.


We blush with the truths, which -- like the bitter spit of defiance -- we expel from our mouths. What relation does the truth of pain have to the truth of logical legalities? And who is the arbiter to pass judgment on our argument? (Who actually judges whom, and on what grounds? To what extent is it acceptable for us to consider an argument incomparable?)
     A sketch of an answer: the truth of pain is the truth of time. All other truths are timeless truths, thus from the standpoint of everyday life, they are insubstantial.
     We explore this first truth in pain; its measure is the measure of feeling it, while those others are mostly bounded by a system of artificial criteria, created by humankind in a state of undisturbed contemplation.
     This is, of course, a schema. Nothing is as far from contemplation as plainness is from physiological laws. Nothing is further from pain than the ignorance of various ideas about its "worth" or "value" . . .
     Actually, only a single truth goes through time untainted: the truth of which time itself has not even brushed in passing.


Chosen by God... for damnation?


A spell of dizziness. When our "dizziness becomes law" (Cioran), it is already too late. We no longer harden, petrified and fascinated with light, we no longer tremble at the unnamed horrors of the darkness. At the limits, it is not the best, but it's good. What we lack is gradually more nebulous, but not more uncertain.
     The less time we have, the more space we take. It is necessary to aim precisely. Our last abyss wants to be bounded. . . by us!


Panic is the emotional tremor of a short circuit, drawn out despondently into a permanent irritation. Not daring to say YES is symptomatic of fearing an expected NO. The moment before is firmly decided by the dare to jump beyond. Signs speak when expressed. Expression, concentrated in the brightness of eyes, directly depends on the possibility of light falling on a megalomaniac screen surface.


The truth does not persuade.


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