Wednesday, April 16, 2014

But love, o Sophie, love! (Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses)

Cecile Volanges to Sophie Camay

4 September 17xx

Sophie dear, you were right. Your prophecies are better than your advice. As you forecast, Danceny beat my confessor, you, and even me. So we're back to exactly where we started. I don't feel any remorse and if you tell me off, it's because you've no idea how wonderful it is loving Danceny. It's all very well for you to say what ought to be done, there's nothing to stop you. But if you'd actually experienced how dreadful it is when someone you love is miserable and how difficult it is to say no when you want to say yes, you wouldn't be surprised at anything any more. For instance, do you imagine I can see Danceny crying without wanting to cry myself? I assure you, it's definitely impossible for me. And when he's pleased, I'm as happy as he is. You can say what you like, what people say doesn't change the way things are and I'm certain that's how it is.
I'd just like to see you in my place . . . No, that's not what I really mean, because I'd certainly hate to give up my place to anybody; but I would like you to love someone as well, not only because you'd understand me better and not keep on telling me off so much but also because you'd be happier or perhaps I should say, it's not until then that you'd start being happy.
You see, all our fun and laughter and larking about was really only childish. Once it was over, there wasn't anything left. But love, O Sophie, love! ... a word, a look, just knowing he's there, well, that's what happiness is. When I see Danceny, I don't want anything more; and when I can't see him, I don't want anybody else. I don't know how it is but it seems that everything I like looks like him. When he's not there I think of him and when I can concentrate on thinking of him without anything to distract me, for example when I'm completely alone, I'm still happy. I just close my eyes and I can see him straight away. I remember what he said and I seem to hear his voice. I start longing for him and then I get all hot and excited and restless and just can't keep still, it's agony but it's so wonderful, I just can't tell you!

I even think that once you've experienced love, it spreads to friendship as well. My friendship for you hasn't changed, of course, it's still just like it was in the convent, but what I'm talking about is my feelings towards Madame de Merteuil. I seem to love her more like I do Danceny than you and sometimes I wish she was him. Maybe that's because it's not a childhood friendship like ours or else because I see them so often together that I tend to mix them up. Anyway it's certainly true that the two of them together make me feel very happy and after all I don't think there's any great harm in what I'm doing. I'd really rather like to stay just as I am. The only thing that worries me is the thought of getting married because if Monsieur de Gercourt is the sort of man I've been told, and I feel sure he is, I don't know what will happen to me. Goodbye, Sophie mine, from your as ever very affectionate and loving Cecile.

Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Oxford University Press, 1995, translated by Douglas Parmée

Thursday, February 27, 2014


A poesia é a arte do desejo
ou do remorso. Aquele que
não pode dizer que ama
no segredo do poema
confessa o seu amor. Aquele
que não quer confessar que
sofre por causa do amor
que já morreu, no poema
tenta perceber a sua dor.

E não posso dizer o teu
nome. Nem que me fez
estremecer o teu olhar
quando se cruzou com o
meu. Não tenho palavras
dignas dessa confissão.
Queria que na memória
ficasse guardada a
imagem do teu rosto,
do teu corpo, quando
tu me observavas e depois
baixavas os olhos e o rosto.

O amor. Mas eu não posso
falar. E tu não podes
ouvir. A paixão será
secreta. Como a dor. Como
a felicidade de estar ao pé de
ti. Sem que ninguém saiba,
ninguém veja. Escrevo o poema
para não me esquecer de ti nem
do teu olhar esta tarde quando
tu saías da sala e viraste
a cabeça na minha direcção.
Tu sabias. Tu sabes. Mas
não é possível. Não se explica
o amor. Mas sem esperança
eu hei-de estar ao pé de
ti atento. E talvez tu
percebas, apesar do pudor,
da proibição.

J. E. Soice

Saturday, January 11, 2014

About being in pain

- What does it mean, to be in pain?

- Tell me.

- Can we make someone understand that we are in pain?

- Are you in pain?

- If I were and told you, would you know that I am in pain?

- If I believed you, yes, I guess that I would.

- Pain can be told and explained. But our own pain cannot be felt by anyone else.

- Sure. But what can we do about it?
- Nothing, I guess. If you were the reason why I am in pain I could tell you about my pain with the secret hope that you would put an end to my pain.
- And I am not the reason why you are in pain?
- No.
- I feel better already.
- You have to. You are not guilty.
- Who is guilty then?
- Nobody is guilty. We are responsible for our own pain.
- A moment ago I understood that someone else but not me was responsible for your pain. Now you say that nobody is responsible for your pain.
- Someone may be the reason of my pain but it does not mean that she is responsible for my pain.
- You are such a good person. You are also an expert in language management. Being the reason is not enough to make the guilty person responsible. I got it. Are you a saint already or just on the way to becoming one?
- If I believed that you could understand my pain maybe I would tell you why I am in pain. You would not cure me but maybe I would feel better.
- Share your pain with me. I will do my best to understand.
- I can’t talk about it.
- You can’t tell it? Try to cry it then. I may even feel your pain, who knows?
- I cannot cry with you here. It would not make sense.
- You are not in pain right now, I guess.
- Why do you say that? How do you know?
- Can we at the same time be in pain and talk so clearly about being in pain as you do?
- You don’t get it. How do we deal with empty spaces?
- Try to fill them.
- I can’t.
- What you cannot do you better forget about it.
- I can’t forget either. I would stop being myself.
- What does it mean, I can’t? We can if we want.
- It means that I am in pain.
- Ok, I see. Tautology is the only way of saying what cannot be said.
- I never had much patience to deal with people who do not understand me. I get tired and I leave. I forget.
- I do not understand you?
- I am not talking about you. I am thinking about people that I could have loved if I were more patient and did not come so soon to the conclusion that I was mistaken. It is so easy to get rid of someone that you think you could love and never stop being friends with. Nobody has enough faith. Nobody believes enough. Then we abandon them and they will never have the slightest idea of what they missed,
- What’s going on in your head? I don’t get it. You are not generous enough or tolerant enough with other people. I know that about you. You understand everything very fast and you think that everybody is able to go as fast as you. You intimidated me when I first met you. You forget to take in consideration that each one of us is trying to find his or her own way in the complex labyrinth of life and reality. It’s not an easy task.
- Never mind. I have to go. Nice talking to you. You are a good friend. You listen to me without contempt even when you do not understand what I am talking about. Goodbye. Love you.
- Love you too. Bye.

J. E. Soice