Transitions №3

Author: Konstantin Kedrov

Translated by Ian Probstein


Gilles Deleuze’s Prescription against Immortality

The Tablets of Deleuze:
Literature is health
The writer’s language is a means of healing and diagnosis
Masoch should have recovered
For literature is health
But did not recover
For which he was punished by the absence of his own literary style

Here I sighed with relief
I never liked Venus in Furs
To be more exact I liked only the title
Something akin to Dali’s Set in Fur1

Literature starts with the porcupine’s death
And in Kafka — with the mole’s death
They write for dying calves
I am a calf


An Apostle of Thought

                       In Memoriam Alexey Losev (1893-1988)

He is looking at me from the parallel world
through his thick glasses
the seer almost lost his eyesight
He dictated all the volumes
of the Classical Aesthetics
involuntarily reviving the tradition of Greek philosophers
who were talking, not writing

To confirm Homer’s blindness
he remarks that the author of Iliad has almost no color
but he does exceptionally well the depiction of the shadows’ underworld
And this is among the most moving depictions of half-blind Losev:
For you a black hole and for me azure sky-heaven

He liked the material world for its evanescence
and he valued thought for its ability to materialize
he considered real only the Name
“God is not the Name, but the Name is God”
I replied, “The Name is a meta-metaphor”
“You think so,” he said without an interrogative intonation

Losev went through me
like a light breeze through a summer house
like the father’s ghost went through Hamlet

Losev emanated some kind of a twilight thought
and in the twilight you can see
that you never see in a dazzling sunlight


Proust’s Blueprint

Proust wanted to recollect his childhood
to revive the lost
when his mother was alive
He was suffocating in the flood of love to his past
The doctors thought it was asthma — that was allergy to life

As he was growing up, it became clear —
the world was split into masculine and feminine
he tried to grasp at something
this something was the taste of a biscuit with а lime-flowered tea

The titles of his books are already poetry:
In Search of Lost Time
À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs

The one who provokes eternity contemplates about eternity

Somewhere in the mirror reflections the name Albertina was lost
He was so sensitive that he could not feel anything

Proust was dying all his life
Hence, he had such a feeling of an instant of life
not every instant but the only one
he stretched it to thousands of pages of tender prose
Proust does not have a biography
life was too coarse for him
he never lived in it
but he lives in his prose

The clue to everything is a fountain stream
It moves without a movement
It changes without change

Proust was a French Oblomov
If Oblomov wrote a novel
he would be Goncharov
If Swann wrote a novel
He would be Proust
But the entire charm of Oblomov is
that he is neither writing nor reading
And the entire charm of Swann is
that he is recollecting, not writing
having recollected, he immediately forgets
A sketch of fate on the blueprint of eternity  
drawn by sympathetic ink
disappearing in the process of drawing




1 Most probably the poet meant famous  Object (1936) known as Breakfast in Fur or Luncheon in Fur https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/later-europe-and-americas/modernity-ap/a/meret-oppenheim-object-fur-covered-cup-saucer-and-spoon by the surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9ret_Oppenheim (Accessed 15 June 2020)