Tomorrow on the 1st of October the Leicester reading festival, Everybody’s Reading, starts. Throughout the festival there will be events dedicated to poetry, children’s literature, African literature from across the continent, and all sorts of things. This year a sci-fi day on the 7th with an discussion between Peter F. Hamilton and Professor George Fraser, Director of the Space research Centre at the University of Leicester, taking place in the evening. There’s hopefully something for everyone. It’s a good festival.
As well as all that, each day of the festival there will be a different writer sitting in the window of the Highcross branch of Waterstones from 12pm until 2pm. They will be there writing. Some of the writers will be poets, some playwrights and others novelists and short story writers.
I will be sitting in that window on Thursday 6th.
I have no idea what I’ll write.
“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what hidden fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tambours I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.”
Dr Cardoso beckoned the waitress and ordered two fruit salads, no sugar or ice-cream please. Then: I have a question for you, said Dr Cardoso, and that is, are you acquainted with the medecins-philosophes? No I ‘m not, admitted Pereira, who are they? The leaders of this school of thought are Theodule Ribot and Pierre Janet, said Dr Cardoso, it was their work I studied in Paris, they are doctors and psychologists, but also philosopher, and they hold a theory I think interesting, the theory of the confederation of souls. Tell me about it, said Pereira. Well, said Dr Cardoso, it means that to believe in a ‘self’ as a distinct entity, quite distinct from the infinite variety of all the other ‘selves’ that we have within us, is a fallacy, the naive illusion of the single unique soul we inherit from Christian tradition, whereas Dr Ribot and Dr Janet see the personality as a confederation of numerous souls, because within us we each have numerous souls, don’t you think a confederation which agrees to put itself under the government of one ruling ego. Dr Cardoso made a brief pause and then continued: What we think of as ourselves, our inward being, is only an effect, not a cause, and what’s more it is subject to the control of a ruling ego which has to impose its will on the confederation of our souls, so in the case of another ego arising, one stronger and more powerful, this ego overthrows the first ruling ego, takes its place and acquires the chieftainship of the cohort of souls, or rather the confederation, and remains in power until it is in turn overthrown by yet another ruling ego, either by frontal attack or by slow nibbling away. It may be, concluded Dr Cardoso, that after slowly nibbling away in you some ruling is is gaining the chieftainship of your confederation of souls, Dr Pereira, and there’s nothing you can do about it except perhaps give it a helping hand whenever you get the chance.
— Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains. (Pages 112-113).
‘Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that dreaming and wakefulness are the pages of a single book, and that to read them in order is to live, and to leaf through them at random, to dream. Paintings within paintings and books that branch into other books help us sense this oneness.’ Jorges Luis Borges, ‘When Fiction Lives in Fiction’ 160-162, trans. Esther Allen, in The Total Library: Non-Fiction 1922-1986, p.162
A note from Borges passed on to me via a friend. She sends me a lot of lovely quotes like this.