stéphane mallarmé, photograph by félix nadar
it seemed to me that i was looking at the form and patterns of a thought, placed for the first time in finite space. here space itself truly spoke, dreamed, and gave birth to temporal forms. expectancy, doubt, consternation, all were visible things.... there amid murmurs, insinuations, visual thunder, a whole spiritual tempest carried page by page to the extremes of thought, to a point of ineffable rupture - there the marble took place; there on the very paper some indescribable scintillation of final stars trembled infinitely pure in an inter-conscious void; and there on the same void with them, like some new form of matter arranged in systems or masses or trailing lines, coexisted the word! i was struck dumb by this unprecedented arrangement. it was as if a new asterism had proffered itself in the heavens; as if a constellation had at last assumed a meaning. was i not witnessing an event of universal importance, and was it not, in some measure, an ideal enactment of the creation of language that was being presented to me on this table at the last minute, by this individual, this rash explorer, this mild and simple man who was so unaffectedly noble and charming by nature?
("on 'a throw of the dice,'") paul valéry - page 265-266
from stephane mallarmé: collected poems, translated and with a commentary by henry weinfield, university of california press 1995
un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard, 1897