“But slowly, abruptly–the thought occurred to me that this story had no witness: I was there–the ‘I’ was already no more than a Who?, a whole crowd of Who?s–so that there would be no one between him and his destiny, so that his face would remain bare and his gaze undivided. I was there, not in order to see him, but so that he wouldn’t see himself, so that it would be me he saw in the mirror, someone other than him–another, a stranger, nearby, gone, the shadow of the other shore, no one–and that in this way he would remain a man until the very end. He wasn’t to split in two. This is the great temptation of those who are approaching their end: they look at themselves and talk to themselves; they turn themselves into a solitude peopled by themselves–the emptiest, the most false. But if I was present, he would be the most alone of all men, without even himself, without the last man which he was–and thus he would be the very last.”

Maurice Blanchot, from The Last Man, tr. Lydia Davis

“But still, a person can only be alone in a city with a sea.
Because you can turn your face to the sea. That way,
you turn your back to the crowds. As for cities without
a sea, whichever way you turn there are people,
whichever way you turn.


Look, look carefully, may your eyes brim with sea
In any case you’ll certainly
Encounter, even in this city,
A person who’ll say, "Some sea got in your eye,” to someone,
“A bird got stuck in your hair,” to someone else

Who’ll lean their ear against your mind,
Who’ll not look at your face, but wherever you’re looking
Who, when you say, “They’re crowding the sea, the water hurts,”
Won’t be surprised and stare at your mouth, but at the sea

In this city with seven aches
This person will touch your aches without waking them"

Ece Temelkuran, from “Seven Aches” tr. Deniz Perin