To be immortal is commonplace; except for men, all creatures are immortal, for they are ignorant of death; what is divine, terrible, incomprehensible, is to know that one is mortal.
You know, something odd happens with this quote, in my book it says at the end “…is to know that one is immortal.” but I think it makes no sense, so I’ve looked it up online and it’s also written like this, which seems more logical. I don’t know, I’ll just go with what seems right to me (books also have mistakes).
Preamble to the Instructions on How to Wind a Watch.
Think of this: When they present you with a watch they are gifting you with a tiny flowering hell, a wreath of roses, a dungeon of air. They aren’t simply giving the watch to you, have a happy birthday, and we hope it will last you because it’s a good brand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren’t just giving you this minute stonecutter which will bind you by the wrist and walk along with you. They are giving you—they don’t know it, the terrible thing is that they don’t know it—they are gifting you with a new, fragile, and precarious piece of yourself, something that’s yours but not a part of your body, that you have to strap to your body with its belt, like a little arm desperately hanging onto your wrist. They gift you with the necessity of having to wind it every day, the obligation to wind it so that it goes on being a watch; they gift you with the obsession of looking into jewelry-shop windows to check the exact time, check the radio announcer, check the telephone service. They gift you with the fear of loosing it, of it being stolen, of it falling on the ground and get broken. They give you the gift of its trademark and the assurance that it’s a trademark better than the others, they gift you with the tendency to compare your watch with other watches. They aren’t giving you a watch, you are the gift, you are the one being offered for the watch’s birthday.
I changed Blackburn’s translation at some parts, it just didn’t sound ok to me.