Odilia Rivera Santos
I first read Journey to the End of the Night in a Turkish coffee shop in the East Village, sitting by a window. I was nineteen and wearing a five-dollar white dress from an Indian clothing store on Union Square back when Union Square was a low-rent neighborhood. The owner of the coffee shop said I only had to pay for one cup of coffee and he would keep refilling it. He said it was nice to have me in the place. I sat, reading Celine, drinking coffee, laughing out loud and marveling at my connection with this French 19th century physician who appeared to have such contempt for humanity, yet his sense of humor and language was so thrilling even in translation I could believe no simple truths about him.
A tourist yells through the open cafe window 'May I take your picture?'
I look up, agree and return to my book. And then, I notice the guy's taken a bunch of pictures and I tell him to go away with a wave of my hand as if swatting a fly. He leaves. And I return to Celine's bitter little arms. Angry, incredibly astute and in a conversational tone, he unveiled philosophical tidbits about mankind.
The ellipses were beautifully placed. Silence and blank spaces in art are so vital and allow digestion while preparing the palate for the new and also show great confidence on the part of an artist. When you have faith in your work, silence engages and draws you in. I love silences, hesitation, and missing trains of thought.
Celine writes about how we fall into situations that alter our lives forever - trajectories created on a whim. And some of the cruelest experiences make for the best art. The trick is to survive cruelty without becoming cruel or sadistic or masochistic.
Many artists have fought wars, literal and figurative, and lost use of some faculty, been denounced by governments or locked up in unpleasant places and made to work in gulags.
Some of us stockpile words to trade for coveted goods, to build an escape hatch out or to climb further in. Do you know what I mean?