Original 1953 Divers Press cover for In Cold Hell, in Thicket.
Thomas Bernhard writes:
Thus every day becomes hell for us whether we like it or not, and what we think will, if we think about it, if we have the requisite coolness of intellect and acuity of intellect, always become something nasty, something low and superfluous which will depress us in the most shattering manner for the whole of our lives. For, everything that is thought is superfluous. Nature does not need thought, says Oehler, only human pride incessantly thinks into nature its thinking. What must thoroughly depress us is the fact that through this outrageous thinking into a nature which is, in the nature of things, fully immunized against this thinking, we enter into an even greater depression than that in which we already are. In the nature of things conditions become ever more unbearable through our thinking, says Oehler. If we think that we are turning unbearable conditions into bearable ones, we have to realize quickly that we have not made (have not been able to make) unbearable circumstances bearable or even less bearable but only still more unbearable. And circumstances are the same as conditions, says Oehler, and it’s the same with facts (extract from the English translation of Gehen available here).
“In Cold Hell, In Thicket”, an obscurely moving poem, is a non-Euclidean experiment in that it boldly celebrates what Olson once called “the whole seismic shift in mens’ attentions” or “the return to space”… Cold hell is the epistemological climate that the non-projective man finds himself suffering as he just begins to feel the impact of the “return to space.” He finds himself imprisoned in a thicket of obsolote “attentions” that still impinge on him by dint of their “strong,” “abstract,” “cold” authority. He endures a state of transitional despair… (Thomas Merrill, The Poetry of Charles Olson: a primer (East Brunswick: Associated University Press, 1982), pp 103-4).