gustaw herling

I do not recall which famous writer should be credited with the assertion that literature is a constant meditation on death. I would add: and on the power of Evil. In both cases literature strives to comprehend the incomprehensible, to perceive the imperceptible, to shed at least a little light on the “heart of darkness.” But it usually acts as though there were a clear line of demarcation separating Life from Death, and Good from Evil. Whereas for me what is important, though hard to fathom, is and always has been the border region, Conrad’s “shadowline,” which represents motionlessness, a lifeless survival amid elements lying in wait. There is no death, or none accessible through direct experience, beyond the boundaries of life. There is no Evil, creeping up deceitfully from afar, beyond the boundaries of Good. The law of osmosis applies here.

But does it really apply; can we feel it? On the surface it does; what is more, it seems banal to us. But it is one thing to know about it, and quite another to see it.

—  Gustaw Herling, “Beata, Santa”
I was conscious of having come into contact with a puzzle which, despite my inquiries, had remained unsolved. We do not like such situations, and not at all because–or at least not exclusively because–we are tormented by our unsated curiosity. Somewhere in the depths of our being, despite all the mechanisms of rationality, there is lit, extinguished, then lit again the tiny light of an innate sense of mystery, which draws us instinctively and irresistibly toward any enigmas we encounter in life. Nabokov wisely wrote in The Gift: ‘I know more about God than I am able to express in words, and the little that I can express in words would never have been expressed if I did not know more.’ We pass through life gathering, consciously or unconsciously, reflections of this little divine light, gathering evidence of the fact that as we know more and more, we are less and less able to express it in words.
—  Gustaw Herling, “The Noonday Cemetery”
Każdy człowiek jest nawet dla siebie istotą bardzo trudną do przeniknięcia i zrozumienia. Nie ma dnia, w którym można by sobie powiedzieć: dosyć, zrobiłem wszystko. Dlatego ciągle pochłania mnie mnóstwo spraw. To jest codzienna walka ze światem.
—  Gustaw Herling-Grudziński - Najkrótszy przewodnik po sobie samym
Wszyscy przyjaciele odcisnęli ślad na mojej osobowości. Każdemu z nich bardzo dużo zawdzięczam, bo przyjaźń polega przecież na wymianie. Nie wszyscy są do niej zdolni. Znam ludzi, z którymi po prostu trudno się zaprzyjaźnić. Ale jeżeli się trafia na kogoś, kto jest do przyjaźni skłonny, to jest to wielki dar losu.
—  Gustaw Herling-Grudziński - Najkrótszy przewodnik po sobie samym