Thursday, November 1, 2012

a Bruno Schulz letter

My next book will be a volume composed of four stories. The subject, as always, is insignificant and difficult to summarize. For my own use I have several names that convey nothing. For example, the theme of one of the stories bears a title borrowed from Jokai's "Marsz za porte-épée"—I really don't know how to describe the theme before the contents crystallize. The real subject matter, the ultimate raw material that I find in myself without any interference of will, is a certain dynamic state, completely "ineffabilis" and totally incommensurate with poetic means. Even so, it has a very definite atmosphere, indicating a specific kind of content that grows out of it and is layered upon it. The more this intangible nucleus is "ineffabilis" the greater its capacity, the sharper its tropism and the stronger the temptation to inject it into matter in which it could be realized. For example, the first seed of my story "Birds" [inCinnamon Shops] was a certain flickering of the wallpaper, pulsating in a dark field of vision—nothing more. That flickering had however great potential content, enormous possibilities for representation, a quality of ancientness, a demand or claim to express the world itself. The first germ of "Spring" was the image of a stamp album, radiating from the center of vision, winking with unheard-of power of allusion, attacking with a load of content one may conjecture. This state, however poor in content, gives me the feeling of inevitability, a sanction for imagining, certainty of the legality of the entire process. Without this basis, I would be given over to doubt, I would have the feeling it was all a bluff, that what I create is arbitrary and false. At the moment I am drawn to increasingly inexpressible themes. Paradox, the tension between their vagueness and their evanescence and their universal claim, their aspiration to represent "everything" is the most powerful creative stimulus. I don't know when these stories will be ready for print. An inability to take advantage of bits and scraps of time forces me to set aside their completion until vacation. 

-- from the Schulz biography Regions of the Great Heresy by Jerzy Ficowski 

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