To those hands of za'tar(thyme)
and darkened stone,
I voice this cry:
Forgotten and alone.
The passing clouds have left me
Homeless and unknown,
And only mountains
Dare to hide me
In a barren home
When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. he sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamppost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: “it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks.” And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it.
When I read this letter of Van Gogh’s it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art. Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about *design* and *balance* and getting *interesting planes* into your painting, and avoided, with the most astringent severity, showing the faintest *academical* tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on.
But the moment I read Van Gogh’s letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it.
And Van Gogh’s little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamppost against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care.
`I’m not crazy about borders; I can’t honestly say I hate them either. It’s just that they scare me, that’s all, and I always feel uncomfortable when I get too close to one’ (Gazmend Kapplani, A Short Border Handbook, trans. by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife, London, 2009, p. 1).
The danger is very real now that the lynch mob defines the agenda of our age, projecting socio-economic insecurities onto a series of scapegoats: black people, immigrants, Muslims, refugees. Fertile ground for unscrupulous opportunists on both sides of the Atlantic. They are the real enemy within.
You are longitude and latitude, a set of speeds and slownesses between unformed particles, a set of nonsubjectified affects. You have the individuality of a day, a season, a year, a life (regardless of its duration)—a climate, a wind, a fog, a swarm, a pack (regardless of its regularity). Or at least you can have it, you can reach it. A cloud of locusts carried in by the wind at five in the evening; a vampire who goes out at night, a werewolf at full moon. It should not be thought that a haecceity consists simply of a decor or backdrop that situates subjects, or of appendages that hold things and people to the ground. It is the entire assemblage in its individuated aggregate that is a haecceity; it is this assemblage that is defined by a longitude and a latitude, by speeds and affects, independently of forms and subjects, which belong to another plane. It is the wolf itself, and the horse, and the child, that cease to be subjects to become events, in assemblages that are inseparable from an hour, a season, an atmosphere, an air, a life.
In this dark night of the European soul, when the old maps no longer serve, should not our common humanity finally dawn on us, as muscles tense, throats tighten, and we come to the realisation that we are, in a sense, all held up at the border? Sans espoir de retour, sans espoir de detour.
In Sappho’s poem, her addresses to gods are orderly, perfect poetic products, but the way—and this is the magic of fragments—the way that poem breaks off leads into a thought that can’t ever be apprehended. There is the space where a thought would be, but which you can’t get hold of. I love that space. It’s the reason I like to deal with fragments. Because no matter what the thought would be if it were fully worked out, it wouldn’t be as good as the suggestion of a thought that the space gives you. Nothing fully worked out could be so arresting, so spooky.
This referendum result is an opportunity as well as a crisis. Nevertheless, having just returned from the Greek border of Europe, it is very clear to me that dangerous forces on the Right have been unleashed while progressive elements engage with an era of reinvention regarding ideas of nationhood, viable economic models, and what it means to be a citizen. The icing on the cake would be a Trump presidency.