Sunday, September 14, 2008

De Maistre on time

Time seems to me to be something so inconceivable that I am tempted to believe that it really doesn’t exist, and that what we call ‘time’ is nothing more than a punishment of the mind….It is when men fall silent, when the demon of noise is mute within its temple, in the midst of a sleeping city - it is then that Time raises its voice and makes itself heard within my soul. Silence and darkness become its interpreters, and reveal its mysterious march to me; it is no longer an abstract thing of reason that my thought cannot seize –my senses themselves perceive it. I can see it in the sky, chasing the stars westwards before it. Now it is pushing the rivers towards, and rolling with the mist along the hillsides…I listen: the winds are moaning under the vigorous sweep of its swift wings, and the distant bell shudders at its terrible passage.

4 comments:

Will said...

Where did you find this one?

I discovered de Maistre through Cioran. Mean-spirited conservative but damn can he write.

Or wait! I assume this is Joseph and not Xavier.

Murr said...

It's actually Xavier, a much wiser and gentler soul than his older brother, Joseph, that Jesuit-educated Catholic monster.

This quote comes from A Nocturnal Expedition Round my Room, a gem of a book.

Will said...

I keep meaning to write about Xavier's Round my Room, obviously the inspiration for Karinthy's title and hence the title of my blog.

Which translation does it come from? I only have the New Directions edition.

Joseph de Maistre is fun, though, maybe in the way Max Stirner is fun. Wholesome, horrifying fun.

Murr said...

It's the Hesperus edition, translated by Andrew Brown, who also provides an excellent introduction. There is also a forward by Alain de Botton, which you can ignore.