Happy birthday, Imre Kertész! Here are some quotes from the author.
“But I believe in writing—nothing else; just writing. Man may live like a worm, but he writes like a god. There was a time when that secret was known, but now it has been forgotten; the world is composed of disintegrating fragments, an incoherent dark chaos, sustained by writing alone. If you have a concept of the world, if you have not yet forgotten all that has happened, that you have a world at all, it is writing that has created that for you, and ceaselessly goes on creating it; Logos, the invisible spider’s thread that holds our lives together.”
“I read somewhere; while God still existed one sustained a dialogue with God, and now that He no longer exists one has to sustain a dialogue with other people, I guess, or, better still, with oneself, that is to say, one talks or mumbles to oneself.”
“For me this is a fact, writing is necessity, I don’t know why, but it seems it was the only solution offered to me, even if it doesn’t solve anything; still it doesn’t leave me…”
“To live and to write, it’s all the same, both together, for the pen is my spade; when I look ahead I only look back, when I stare at the paper I only see the past…”
“I live and occasionally I look up at the glorious air or the clouds into which I keep digging my grave with my pen, diligently, like a forced laborer, whom they order every day to dig deeper with his spade…”
“Failure alone remains as the one single accomplishable experience…”
“The world is not our imagination but our nightmare, full of inconceivable surprises.”
“My body is foreign to me,…that body that sustains me and will, ultimately, kill me.”
“Only from our stories can we discover that our stories have come to an end, otherwise we would go on living as if there were still something for us to continue (our stories, for example); that is, we would go on living in error.”
“Writers sometimes cast themselves into the most profound depths of despair in order to master it and move on.”
“Consider what happened to language in the twentieth century, what became of words. I daresay that the first and most shocking discovery made by writers in our time was that language, in the form it came down to us, a legacy of some primordial culture, had simply become unsuitable to convey concepts and processes that had once been unambiguous and real. Think of Kafka, think of Orwell, in whose hands the old language simply disintegrated. It was as if they were turning it round and round in an open fire, only to display its ashes afterward, in which new and previously unknown patterns emerged.”
“For whom does a writer write, then? The answer is obvious: he writes for himself.”
“In short, I died once, so I could live.”
“And if you now ask me what still keeps me here on this earth, what keeps me alive, then, I would answer without any hesitation: love.”
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.