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Notebook A: Notes on Wakefulness and Being




The body resists its knowledge of oneness—as if to exist it must renounce that from which it was issued.

As a child believes it must deny its origins in order to affirm its singular existence.

It is not possible to deviate from being.

Paradox of Logos

Language too is unable to grasp the fundamental essence of its nature.

Curiously, Nevertheless

Night’s volute was upheld by the Vowel at the base of speech.

Paradoxical Given

Not all the ripe cognates of existence can be harvested from the garden of the world.






Inherently Problematic

To imagine an escape from being through a flight into particularity.


To champion particularity is to always remain suspicious of one’s true nature.

The Problem

What is particular is like Narcissus leaning over the water’s reflection, eternally hoping, but never assuredly able to confirm, the existence of his singular beauty.

Beyond the Edge of the Garden

To imagine being hunted by manifestation, to be hounded by particularity

Fortunate Parallels

The green flame of cypress, the hoarfrost of fern—the many-sided argument of the raspberry thicket.


In order to fully experience being one must first make peace with the vanity of particularity.






Unexplainable Grief

To witness, at Autumn’s end, the fallen walnut broken into its parts.

Hidden Grief

The brain’s twin hemispheres halving continuity into discontinuity.

What Is Difficultly Visualized

Dualities that shelter behind them a unity beyond the possibility of cognitive formation.

Insights Beyond the Realm of Thought

Twilight-colored plums, fallen but luminous, hidden among the autumn grass.

Almost Observable by the Naked Eye

Being’s armature holding up all that is starkly ephemeral.

Insight and Doubt

To experience, even once, the unexpected wakefulness of the world—pitted against the shadowy conceits of the mind.






Enduring Condition

Wakefulness invites the Mind to gather with it in the burgeoning, always-renewing field.

Curious Auto-da-fé

In return, the Mind plots its eternal assault on being.

The Covert Habits of the Mind

Like bats winging through the shadowy, damp night orchard.

A Question of Methodology

To unthink the known in a gesture of sympathy with being.

Intuitive Postulate

Insight opens its reticent blossoms when the Mind waits under the same sky as Wakefulness.

Unfortunate Parallel

Human hair and blood—matted like dank manure and straw.






Goal of Difficult Attainment

To remain on the threshold of: particularity, oneness and language—to negotiate along the joints of the world.

Unattainable Ideal

Perfect Wakefulness like the moon ever-visible at midday.

Urgent Dilemma

To resolve how that which is both same and different can finally be called 
by its singular, Sacred name.


Hence the implicit homecoming of metaphor: to reconcile what was arbitrarily broken, exiled in the mind.


The Will listens in on all the manifestations of Wonder.

Wakefulness and Surprise

To listen along the joints—for all that surprisingly joins.  

Ellen Hinsey is the author of six books of poetry, dialogues, and literary translation, including Update on the Descent, The White Fire of Time, and Cities of Memory, which was awarded the Yale University Series Prize. She is also the coauthor of Magnetic North: Conversations with Tomas Venclova (forthcoming in 2015 from Suhrkamp Verlag). Her work has appeared several times in the Conjunctions online magazine, as well as in publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Irish Times, The Paris Review, and Poetry; excerpts have appeared in French, German, Italian, Danish, and Serbian translation. A former Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, she is the international correspondent for The New England Review and teaches at Skidmore College’s Program in Paris.