Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
newest | archives | search | about | wishlist | flickr | email | rss
'By voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.'
'Two almost abstract voices in an almost abstract space. That is what strikes us first, this sort of abstraction: as if these two beings who converse in a square—she is twenty, a servant; he, older, goes from store to store selling things of little value—had no other reality than their voice alone, and in this accidental conversation exhausted whatever a living person still has in the way of chance and truth, or more simply of speech. They have to speak, and these cautious, almost ceremonious words are terrible because of the restraint that is not only the politeness of simple lives, but is made of their extreme vulnerability. The fear of wounding and the fear of being wounded are in the very words. The words touch each other, they withdraw at the slightest contact; they are assuredly still living. Slow, but uninterrupted, never stopping for fear of not having enough time: one must speak now or never; but still without haste, patient and on the defensive, calm too, the way speech is calm that if it did not restrain itself would break out into a cry; and deprived, to a painful degree, of that ease of chatter that is the lightness and freedom of a certain sort of happiness. Here, in the simple world of need and necessity, words are devoted to the essential, attracted only to the essential, and so are monotonous, but they are attentive also to what must be said in order not to avoid the brutal formulations that would put an end to everything.
It is a matter of dialogue. How rare dialogue is; we realize this by the surprise it makes us feel, bringing us into the presence of an unusual event, almost more painful than remarkable. In novels, the "dialogued" part is the expression of laziness and routine: the characters speak to put white spaces on a page and out of an imitation of life, where there is no narration, only conversation; from time to time one must give speech to people in books; the direct contact is an economy and a repose (for the author even more than for the reader). Or, the "dialogue," under the influence of some American writers, can be wrought of an expressive incommunicativeness: more threadbare than in reality, a little below the meaningless speech that suffices for us in current life. When someone speaks, it is his refusal to speak that becomes obvious; his discourse is his silence: closed, violent, saying nothing but himself, his abrupt massiveness, his desire to emit words rather than to speak. Or simply, as happens in Hemingway, this exquisite way of expressing himself a little under zero is a ruse to make us believe in some high degree of life, emotion, or thought, an honest and classic ruse that often succeeds and to which Hemingway's melancholy talent gives various resources. But the three great directions of modern novelistic "dialogue" are represented, in my opinion, by the names Malraux, Henry James, and Kafka.'