all the dead
were once loved
all the buried
all the dead
were once loved
all the buried
“Claude Lanzmann, the director of the epic documentary film Shoah…argues that his own approach to recording the experience of survivors—through direct testimony—is the only legitimate method, and that art and imagination can have no part in such an endeavor.” (The Paris Review)
The wounds of horror flew deep into the flesh. But art cannot be still, so it lends itself an air of skepticism in the face of yearning for redemption, of yearning for an imagined reason untainted by power, for the restoration of beauty into the world – as Leo Bersani put it, “Art as a correction for life.” Redeemed from our actions, our thoughts, our own death, even. Some, including visual artists such as Jean Debuffet, found these dogmatic notions disgusting, rejecting the very constructs that create such a wonderland: “I believe very much in the values of savagery,” he said, “Instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness.”
No. Humanity had hoisted itself upon a cross. Humanity as it was known had suffered, then died. Resurrection would come later (redemption, perhaps never) out of the bones of the soil, turned anew. The psychology of practice, as much as the concession of impotence, would become central to everything that followed it.
We are afraid of the visibility of technologies below the surface, especially those cold and strange. We conceal them in the process of attempting to expose the illusions and myths within ourselves. We, the creators and viewers, prefer the wires tucked neatly out of sight, for the machine to be covered in skin and hair, in order to muse on its poetry, rather than the mundanity of its underpinnings.
It is fine to look back critically at the role of the traditional crafts, to the role of the traditional institution. But I would like to rip the plaster off the Guggenheim’s walls, to expose the glass wool, the wires, the pipework: the facts of its matter. To be confronted with its biology is to be confronted with the duality of that with its identity, and hence to peer within our own bodies and within our own minds… because after all we have achieved, it is still impossible to unite these disparate notions.
I know and you know, we knew,
we did not know, we
were there, after all, and not there
and at times when
only the void stood between us we got
all the way to each other
— Paul Celan , from “Soviel Gestirne” (So Many Constellations), Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan. (W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition December 17, 2001)
Removing the body from the mind They returned their lengths, their widths
Till all that was left was depth Blue depth: blue and profound nothingness
When I hear your voice
it is like my smile is foisted up by a hoard of trumpets on the high seas, but climbing somehow towards the sun like kites full of flapping rhythmic laughter, up, laughter fronted by a host of sheened teeth defying the scalding eye like unmeltable shields on wings of wind
Yet subsequent days bring subsequent truth
of the matter & my mind
reconfigured as an open doorway
now obscured by beauty
a tree that stands straight and asks me to climb
That was last night’s dream.
Today, I am jumping too hard and fall through the floor.
Tomorrow I am looking too hard down a well and find myself inside it.
You can simply throw a blanket over the hole, and tread lightly over it.
A dream is not really anything.
But if I have nothing, I am prepared for everything;
giant coastal purr, floating.
The future looms;
daybreak’s gloom conceals.
Long it rises in the east
and, gone too soon,
it’s gone by noon.
I like to run, on foot or on wheels
The first person I
saw in my life I
probably never saw again
or maybe it was all a blur
because babies can’t see anyway
and I wasn’t born with glasses on
and who cares because I forgot it all anyway
They sweat, those standing around
the hole in the pavement, gasping
There is one in a digger with his arm
shuddering, cascading against mud and sometimes against rock
We paused around the tape
voyeurs gaping at the wound, protruding
pipe-ends like butchered veins
and those men’s solemn faces,
pillaging the bones of the earth.