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Octavio Paz

Geburtstag: 31. März 1914
Todesdatum: 19. April 1998

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Octavio Paz Lozano Hören?/i war ein mexikanischer Schriftsteller und Diplomat. Er erhielt 1990 den Nobelpreis für Literatur.

Zitate Octavio Paz

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„Wenn Freiheit und Demokratie auch keine äquivalenten Begriffe sind, so sind sie doch komplementär: Ohne Freiheit ist die Demokratie Despotie, ohne Demokratie ist die Freiheit eine Chimäre.“

— Octavio Paz
Zwiesprache. Essays zu Kunst und Literatur. Aus dem Spanischen von Elke Wehr und Rudolf Wittkopf. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984. S. 236

„Deserve your dream.“

— Octavio Paz
"Hacia el Poema (Puntos de Partida)" [Toward the Poem (Starting Points)] (1950) Variant translation: Deserve what you dream.

„The best thing to do will be to choose the path to Galta, traverse it again (invent it as I traverse it), and without realizing it, almost imperceptibly, go to the end — without being concerned about what “going to the end” means or what I meant when I wrote that phrase.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: The best thing to do will be to choose the path to Galta, traverse it again (invent it as I traverse it), and without realizing it, almost imperceptibly, go to the end — without being concerned about what “going to the end” means or what I meant when I wrote that phrase. At the very beginning of the journey, already far off the main highway, as I walked along the path that leads to Galta, past the little grove of banyan trees and the pools of foul stagnant water, through the Gateway fallen into ruins and into the main courtyard bordered by dilapidated houses, I also had no idea where I was going, and was not concerned about it. I wasn’t asking myself questions: I was walking, merely walking, with no fixed itinerary in mind. I was simply setting forth to meet … what? I didn’t know at the time, and I still don’t know. Perhaps that is why I wrote “going to the end”: in order to find out, in order to discover what there is after the end. A verbal trap; after the end there is nothing, since if there were something, the end would not be the end. Nonetheless, we are always setting forth to meet … even though we know that there is nothing, or no one, awaiting us. We go along, without a fixed itinerary, yet at the same time with an end (what end?) in mind, and with the aim of reaching the end. A search for the end, a dread of the end: the obverse and the reverse of the same act. Without this end that constantly eludes us we would not journey forth, nor would there be any paths. But the end is the refutation and the condemnation of the path: at the end the path dissolves, the meeting fades away to nothingness. And the end — it too fades away to nothingness. Ch. 1

„Repetitions, you wander about lost amid repetitions, you are merely a repetition among other repetitions.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: Repetitions, you wander about lost amid repetitions, you are merely a repetition among other repetitions. An artist of repetitions, a past master of disfigurations, a maestro of demolitions. The trees repeat other trees, the sands other sands, the jungle of letters is repetition, the stretch of dunes is repetition, the plethora is emptiness, emptiness is a plethora, I repeat repetitions, lost in the thicket of signs, wandering about in the trackless sand, stains on the wall beneath this sun of Galta, stains on this afternoon in Cambridge, a thicket and a stretch of dunes, stains on my forehead that assembles and disassembles vague landscapes. You are (I am) is a repetition among other repetitions. You are is I am; I am is you are: you are is I. Demolitions: I stretch out full length atop my triturations, I inhabit my demolitions. Ch. 6

„And in regard to the present matter, if the present matters: I do not belong to the masters. I don't wash my hands of it, but I am not a judge, nor a witness for the prosecution, nor an executioner. I do not torture, interrogate, or suffer interrogation.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: The world stretches out before me, the vast world of the big, the little, and the medium. Universe of kings and presidents and jailors, of mandarins and pariahs and liberators and liberated, of judges and witnesses and the condemned: stars of the first, second, third and nth magnitudes, planets, comets, bodies errant and eccentric or routine and domesticated by the laws of gravity, the subtle laws of falling, all keeping step, all turning slowly or rapidly around a void. Where they claim the central sun lies, the solar being, the hot beam made out of every human gaze, there is nothing but a hole and less than a hole: the eye of a dead fish, the giddy cavity of the eye that falls into itself and looks at itself without seeing. There is nothing with which to fill the hollow center of the whirlwind. The springs are smashed, the foundations collapsed, the visible or invisible bonds that joined one star to another, one body to another, one man to another, are nothing but a tangle of wires and thorns, a jungle of claws and teeth that twist us and chew us and spit us out and chew us again. No one hangs himself by the rope of a physical law. The equations fall tirelessly into themselves. And in regard to the present matter, if the present matters: I do not belong to the masters. I don't wash my hands of it, but I am not a judge, nor a witness for the prosecution, nor an executioner. I do not torture, interrogate, or suffer interrogation. I do not loudly plead for leniency, nor wish to save myself or anyone else. And for all that I don't do and for all that they do to us, I neither ask forgiveness nor forgive. Their piety is as abject as their justice. Am I innocent? I'm guilty. Am I guilty? I'm innocent. (I'm innocent when I'm guilty, guilty when I'm innocent. I'm guilty when … but that is another song. Another song? It's all the same song.) Guilty innocent, innocent guilty, the fact is I quit.

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„I want to go on, to go beyond; I cannot;
the moment scatters itself in many things,
I have slept the dreams of the stone that never dreams
and deep among the dreams of years like stones
have heard the singing of my imprisoned blood,
with a premonition of light the sea sang,
and one by one the barriers give way,
all of the gates have fallen to decay“

— Octavio Paz
Context: I want to go on, to go beyond; I cannot; the moment scatters itself in many things, I have slept the dreams of the stone that never dreams and deep among the dreams of years like stones have heard the singing of my imprisoned blood, with a premonition of light the sea sang, and one by one the barriers give way, all of the gates have fallen to decay, the sun has forced an entrance through my forehead, has opened my eyelids at last that were kept closed, unfastened my being of its swaddling clothes, has rooted me out of my self, and separated me from my animal sleep centuries of stone and the magic of reflections resurrects willow of crystal, a poplar of water, a pillar of fountain by the wind drawn over, tree that is firmly rooted and that dances, turning course of a river that goes curving, advances and retreats, goes roundabout, arriving forever:

„I remember my loves, my conversation, my friendships. I remember it all, see it all, see them all.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: I remember my loves, my conversation, my friendships. I remember it all, see it all, see them all. With melancholy, but without nostalgia. And above all, without hope. I know that it is immortal, and that, if we are anything, we are the hope of something. For me, expectation has spent itself. I quit the nevertheless, the even, the in spite of everything, the moratoriums, the excuses and forgiving. I know the mechanism of the trap of morality and the drowsiness of certain words. I have lost faith in all those constructions of stone, ideas, ciphers. I quit. I no longer defend this broken tower. And, in silence, I await the event.

„Since movement is a metaphor for change, the best thing will be to say: nonchange is (always) change. It would appear that I have finally arrived at the desired disequilibrium.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: Since movement is a metaphor for change, the best thing will be to say: nonchange is (always) change. It would appear that I have finally arrived at the desired disequilibrium. Nonetheless, change is not the primordial, original word that I am searching for: it is a form of becoming. When becoming is substituted for change, the relation between the two terms is altered, so that I am obliged to replace nonchange by permanence, which is a metaphor for fixity, as becoming is for coming-to-be, which in turn is a metaphor for time in all its ceaseless transformations…. There is no beginning, no original word: each one is a metaphor for another word which is a metaphor for yet another, and so on. All of them are translations of translations. A transparency in which the obverse is the reverse: fixity is always momentary. I begin all over again: if it does not make sense to say that fixity is always momentary, the same may not be true if I say that it never is. Ch. 4

„Their piety is as abject as their justice. Am I innocent? I'm guilty. Am I guilty? I'm innocent. (I'm innocent when I'm guilty, guilty when I'm innocent. I'm guilty when … but that is another song. Another song? It's all the same song.) Guilty innocent, innocent guilty, the fact is I quit.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: The world stretches out before me, the vast world of the big, the little, and the medium. Universe of kings and presidents and jailors, of mandarins and pariahs and liberators and liberated, of judges and witnesses and the condemned: stars of the first, second, third and nth magnitudes, planets, comets, bodies errant and eccentric or routine and domesticated by the laws of gravity, the subtle laws of falling, all keeping step, all turning slowly or rapidly around a void. Where they claim the central sun lies, the solar being, the hot beam made out of every human gaze, there is nothing but a hole and less than a hole: the eye of a dead fish, the giddy cavity of the eye that falls into itself and looks at itself without seeing. There is nothing with which to fill the hollow center of the whirlwind. The springs are smashed, the foundations collapsed, the visible or invisible bonds that joined one star to another, one body to another, one man to another, are nothing but a tangle of wires and thorns, a jungle of claws and teeth that twist us and chew us and spit us out and chew us again. No one hangs himself by the rope of a physical law. The equations fall tirelessly into themselves. And in regard to the present matter, if the present matters: I do not belong to the masters. I don't wash my hands of it, but I am not a judge, nor a witness for the prosecution, nor an executioner. I do not torture, interrogate, or suffer interrogation. I do not loudly plead for leniency, nor wish to save myself or anyone else. And for all that I don't do and for all that they do to us, I neither ask forgiveness nor forgive. Their piety is as abject as their justice. Am I innocent? I'm guilty. Am I guilty? I'm innocent. (I'm innocent when I'm guilty, guilty when I'm innocent. I'm guilty when … but that is another song. Another song? It's all the same song.) Guilty innocent, innocent guilty, the fact is I quit.

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„You are (I am) is a repetition among other repetitions. You are is I am; I am is you are: you are is I.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: Repetitions, you wander about lost amid repetitions, you are merely a repetition among other repetitions. An artist of repetitions, a past master of disfigurations, a maestro of demolitions. The trees repeat other trees, the sands other sands, the jungle of letters is repetition, the stretch of dunes is repetition, the plethora is emptiness, emptiness is a plethora, I repeat repetitions, lost in the thicket of signs, wandering about in the trackless sand, stains on the wall beneath this sun of Galta, stains on this afternoon in Cambridge, a thicket and a stretch of dunes, stains on my forehead that assembles and disassembles vague landscapes. You are (I am) is a repetition among other repetitions. You are is I am; I am is you are: you are is I. Demolitions: I stretch out full length atop my triturations, I inhabit my demolitions. Ch. 6

„My phrase is a moment, the moment of fixity in the monologue of Zeno the Eleatic and Huí Shih (“I leave today for Yüeh and I arrive yesterday”).“

— Octavio Paz
Context: My phrase is a moment, the moment of fixity in the monologue of Zeno the Eleatic and Huí Shih (“I leave today for Yüeh and I arrive yesterday”). In this monologue one of the terms finally devours the other: either motionlessness is merely a state of movement (as in my phrase), or else movement is only an illusion of motionlessness (as among the Hindus). Therefore we ought not to say either always or never, but almost always or almost never, merely from time to time or more than is generally supposed and less than this expression might indicate, frequently or seldom, consistently or occasionally, we don’t have at our disposal sufficient data to state with certainty whether it is periodic or irregular: fixity (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) is momentary (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) fixity (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) is momentary (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) fixity…. All this means that fixity never is entirely fixity and that it is always a moment of change. Fixity is always momentary. Ch. 4

„All this means that fixity never is entirely fixity and that it is always a moment of change. Fixity is always momentary.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: My phrase is a moment, the moment of fixity in the monologue of Zeno the Eleatic and Huí Shih (“I leave today for Yüeh and I arrive yesterday”). In this monologue one of the terms finally devours the other: either motionlessness is merely a state of movement (as in my phrase), or else movement is only an illusion of motionlessness (as among the Hindus). Therefore we ought not to say either always or never, but almost always or almost never, merely from time to time or more than is generally supposed and less than this expression might indicate, frequently or seldom, consistently or occasionally, we don’t have at our disposal sufficient data to state with certainty whether it is periodic or irregular: fixity (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) is momentary (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) fixity (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) is momentary (always, never, almost always, almost never, etc.) fixity…. All this means that fixity never is entirely fixity and that it is always a moment of change. Fixity is always momentary. Ch. 4

„The relations between rhetoric and ethics are disturbing: the ease with which language can be twisted is worrisome, and the fact that our minds accept these perverse games so docilely is no less cause for concern.“

— Octavio Paz
Context: Fixity is always momentary. But how can it always be so? If it were, it would not be momentary — or would not be fixity. What did I mean by that phrase? I probably had in mind the opposition between motion and motionlessness, an opposition that the adverb always designates as continual and universal: it embraces all of time and applies to every circumstance. My phrase tends to dissolve this opposition and hence represents a sly violation of the principle of identity. I say “sly” because I chose the word momentary as an adjectival qualifier of fixity in order to tone down the violence of the contrast between movement and motionlessness. A little rhetorical trick intended to give an air of plausibility to my violation of the rules of logic. The relations between rhetoric and ethics are disturbing: the ease with which language can be twisted is worrisome, and the fact that our minds accept these perverse games so docilely is no less cause for concern. We ought to subject language to a diet of bread and water if we wish to keep it from being corrupted and from corrupting us. (The trouble is that a-diet-of-bread-and-water is a figurative expression, as is the-corruption-of-language-and-its-contagions.) It is necessary to unweave (another metaphor) even the simplest phrases in order to determine what it is that they contain (more figurative expressions) and what they are made of and how (what is language made of? and most important of all, is it already made, or is it something that is perpetually in the making?). Unweave the verbal fabric: reality will appear. (Two metaphors.) Can reality be the reverse of the fabric, the reverse of metaphor — that which is on the other side of language? (Language has no reverse, no opposite faces, no right or wrong side.) Perhaps reality too is a metaphor (of what and/or of whom?). Perhaps things are not things but words: metaphors, words for other things. With whom and of what do word-things speak? (This page is a sack of word-things.) It may be that, like things which speak to themselves in their language of things, language does not speak of things or of the world: it may speak only of itself and to itself. Ch. 4 Ch. 4 -->

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