Full text: Secession (Number one) (1)

Lost as I am by the edge of this profound lake in 
which is mirrored an unknown sky, shall I ever attain 
the linking of my existence with the human centuries 
whose faint trail seems scarcely to penetrate these 
.regions? Even the sense of time is forgotten : whether 
I go toward yesterday or tomorrow, there is no way 
of knowing. And these words suggest nothing more, 
since it is impossible to tell whether the ages have 
been arrested forever or whether their flight has been 
hastened with the uniformly accelerated rapidity of a 
body approaching the sun. If only I had a watch with 
me to end this uncertainty. A diffuse light reigns 
eternally over this world and the sun that is of space 
as well as of time has deserted this immutable firmament. 
The lovely liquid expanse which composes my horizon 
rounds out toward the west and receives at the north 
west a stream that flows from the north. As far as I 
can ascertain with the aid of my compass, its direction 
seems to be north-northeast by south-southwest. But 
how to measure its extent? I have made the circum 
ference of the lake several times without arriving at 
even the haziest idea as to the year or minute of the 
length of the voyage. At first glance I had estimated 
the circumference to be a hundred miles. Later con 
jectures brought this figure up from a hundred to a 
hundred and fifty or a hundred and sixty miles. The 
actual span must be somewhere between these two 
numbers. Nor can the time that I place at the disposal 
of this investigation serve as a yard-stick : it comprises 
anything from a few sparse thoughts to a desert of 
ennui and vexation. The beatings of my pulse inform 
me no better, their irregularities born no doubt of 
the helplessness in which I find myself to appraise 
equivalents amid such astounding phenomena. The 
vegetation in its development follows no habitual or 
logical order of growth. There are trees here which 
grow downward, flowers that give forth leaves, buds 
that the wind carries off to make a carpet for me. 
* Fragment from Telamaque, a novel to be published this 
spring. Translated from the French by Will Bray.

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