men build their cultures by huddling together, nervously loquacious, at the edge of an abyss
For any wondering, this is how you you end a book, These are the final lines of Kenneth Burke's Permanence and Change (1935), sent my way by Erik:
In these troublesome antics, we may even find it wise on occasion to adopt incongruous perspectives for the dwarfing of our impatience. We in cities rightly grow shrewd at appraising man-made institutions--but beyond these tiny concentration points of rhetoric and traffic, there lies the eternally insoluble Enigma, the preposterous fact that both existence and nothingness are equally unthinkable. Our speculations may run the whole qualitative gamut, from play, through reverence, even to an occasional shiver of cold metaphysical dread--for always the Eternal Enigma is there, right on the edges of metropolitan bickerings, stretching outwards to interstellar infinity and inwards to the depths of the mind. And in this staggering disproportion between man and no-man, there is no place for purely human boasts of grandeur, or of forgetting that men build their cultures by huddling together, nervously loquacious, at the edge of an abyss.
i.e.: with the reduction of the spindly edifices of civilization to the twittering chatter of no-mans, hot air puffins, busying themselves with time, sex, trousers, or ontology, busying away from peering over, not into the fact of the void as such (since no void is terrifying in itself, no, it would be comforting in its total naught, as though certain that what it isn't now it will always not be, as though ah yes, that good old zone of "utter unthinkability," that torn curtain's seam, a shushing of this loquacious mind, the promise that there are edges that are blurry), but of the disproportion itself, that steamy gulf. Of a single turn of the head's spanning at once what bickers and what does not know what that would mean if it were to grow quiet or not.
[post-script: above image is the album to which I am listening as I write this. It is the sound of the attempt to stay immobile in that chatty huddle of frottage and fear, winding tighter and tighter, with the inevitable fact that this avoidance fails all the more for its effort: every electronic hand-clap jerks our head in the direction of that waiting night. A synthesized trumpet blare is nothing but the beginning of terror.]