A Window Across the River hooked me by the title. I suspect I am similar to the protagonist, Nora, in that I’m much better writing about real people than fictitious ones. Perhaps I divine frailities, but unlike Nora (I hope!) I am better at using words to reinforce possibility instead of despair. I found author Brian Morton’s portrayals of intimacy compelling – and had to take a break.
Not that Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star is any lighter.
It is probably too much to say that Lispector anticipates my own journaled story, but there is no doubt she arrives there first: “…a story that is patently open and explicit yet holds certain secrets” as the outcome of an ambition
to write a story with a beginning, a middle, and a ‘grand finale’ followed by silence and falling rain” (13). She writes a “story [that] will emerge from a gradual vision – for the past two and a half years I have slowly started discovering the whys and the wherefores……of what? Perhaps I shall find out later. Just as I am writing at the same time as I am being read (12).
“How does one start at the beginning, if things happen before they actually happen?” (11)
She is not mocking Rilke, she agrees with him. “One cannot prove the existence of what is most real but the essential thing is to believe” (8).
Most of all, I dedicate [this narrative] to the day’s vigil and to day itself, to the transparent voice of … all those prophets of our age who have revealed me to myself and made me explode into: me. This me that is you, for I cannot bear to be simply me, I need others to stand up, giddy and awkward as I am… (7-8).
Rilke’s Letters to A Young Poet are the souce of my favorite quote: “the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.” (Letter #8). This is why, Rilke argues,
it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being.
I continue to practice my ability to believe.
I extend myself to faith.
Letter #3 includes one of my other favorite quotes:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.