“Just looking at you is hurtful. That’s how beautiful you are. You hurt to look at.”

Maurizio Cattelan -  I love you (assiette métal by Seletti)

He has a way of watching her that makes her feel as if she is the most important thing in the world.

At his best, we are more than all right. At his best he rises above all of it and he is more than any of them. But there is something in him. A flaw that poisons all the rest.

You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.

Humanity is killing itself—slowly, ruinously, collectively shitting in its bathwater, shitting on the world just because they cannot conceive that the world exists.

He turns her head this way and that, looking into her intently. Finally, he says, “Do you know this, kibble? Do you know what you mean to me? You save my life every morning that you get up and out of bed. I hear your little footsteps padding down your stairwell and I think, that’s my girl, that’s what I’m living for.” He is silent for a moment. She shakes her head, her heart creaking with anger.

He believes her body to be something that he understands, and, treacherously, it is.

“I trust you,” she says, and she thinks, you are hard on me, but you are good for me, too, and I need that hardness in you. I need you to be hard on me, because I am no good for myself, and you make me do what I want to do but cannot do for myself; but still, but still—you are sometimes not careful; there is something in you, something less than careful, something almost— I don’t know, I am not sure, but I know it’s there.

“[…] People are content to live if the living should come easy. If it should stop being easy—well.” A silence. They sit for some time, and then Martin grating, his voice harsh and low, raking his fingernails across the wood grain: “Well, I tell you, what that question is asking is—what will you do when things get hard? And life will get hard. Life will get hard, and to say that you will not fight for it—well. What intercourse can you have with such people? There can be none. Their life is a sham of circumstance only, their pretended agency is perfidy, a social lie, and to regard them as people is fetishism. So what optimism can there be? They will not fight for themselves—you think they will fight for a world outside themselves? A world troublesome to imagine, troublesome to understand? They have no language to understand it, even. They see no beauty in it. And you know what the proof is? The end is coming. And here we all are—waiting, with our dicks out in our hands.”

He used to say, “When a sweetpea knows something’s name, she thinks she knows everything about it, and she stops looking at it. But there is nothing in a name, and to say you know a thing’s name is to say that you know nothing, less than nothing.” He liked to say, “Don’t ever think the name is the thing, because there is only the thing itself, and the names are just tricks, just tricks to help you remember them.”

She wants him back so badly. There is so much to him, so much depth, and she wants that again, the heft and the weight of him, and everything he takes from her, but still she mourns the loss, the girl who was alone in that house, who cut apart his bookshelves and burned his clothes, and she doesn’t think that it is her place to say yes or no, it is his house, she is his girl, he could always come back, she knows it and he knows it.

She studies him. There is something in her as hard as the cobbles in the surf and she thinks, there is a part of me that you will never, ever get at.
He says, “Look at you.” He wraps his hands around her throat, cupping her hair demurely to her neck, and there is almost a hatred of her in his eyes, and she thinks, do it. Fucking do it. I want you to do it.
“Just looking at you,” he says, “is hurtful. That’s how beautiful you are. You hurt to look at.” His hands tighten and relax around her neck.

The problem is that we have no evidence that other people are conscious and alive, like us. We know that we are conscious because we have direct experience of our own thoughts, our emotions, the unquantifiable way that it feels to be alive, but we have no experience of others’ consciousness, and so—and so, we do not know for sure that they are alive, really alive, experiencing their life as we experience ours. Perhaps we are the only real person, surrounded by hollow shells who act like people, but who have no interior life as we do.

Turtle holds the girl in her arms, and the girl is small, with slender shins and small bony feet, and her hair is rough and coarse on Turtle’s cheek. It sticks to Turtle’s lips and the girl reaches up and puts her arms around Turtle’s neck and Turtle says nothing, but holds her, and holding her, she thinks, this is a thing I can take care of, and if I couldn’t show the girl any love, I could show her care, I can do that much, maybe. I am not like him, and I can take care of things and can take care of her, too, maybe, even if I don’t know if it’s real and even if I don’t mean it more than that, I can salvage something maybe by just doing that, by just caring for the bitch. She holds her and hums a little, her chin on Cayenne’s head, the girl’s legs tucked up in Turtle’s arms.

 Gabriel Tallent - My absolute darling (Riverhead Books-2017)