Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two Translations of a Poem by Georg Trakl

Lament -- Georg Trakl, two translations

Sleep and death, the dusky eagles
Around this head swoop all night long;
Eternity’s icy wave
Would swallow the golden image
Of man; against horrible reefs
His purple body is shattered.
And the dark voice laments
Over the sea.
Sister of stormy sadness,
Look a timid dinghy goes down
Under stars,
The silent face of the night.

Fear and Its Overcoming -- Poems assembled by Nathaniel Williams

THE SECOND COMING --  William Butler Yeats

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds. 

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Hyperion's Song of Fate – Friedrich Holderlin

Up there you walk through the light
on delicate grounds, Elysian Spirits!
Shimmering breezes of Gods
touch you as softly
as the hand of the harpist touches her
sacrosanct strings. 

Unencumbered by fate, like a slumbering
newborn, are breathing the heavenly dwellers;
chastely protected
by a bud unassuming
flowers for them
eternal the spirit
and their hallow├ęd eyes
shine in serene
clearness forever. 

But to us it is given
never and nowhere to rest:
we suffering humans —
vanishing, falling
blindly from one
hour to the next —
are thrown like the water
cliff down to cliff,
yearlong down to an unknown abyss. 

Devotional -- Novalis

Who in his chamber sitteth lonely,
And weepeth heavy, bitter tears;
To whom in doleful colours, only
Of want and woe, the world appears;

Who of the Past, gulf-like receding,
Would search with questing eyes the core,
Down into which a sweet woe, pleading,
Wiles him from all sides evermore--

As if a treasure past believing
Lay there below, for him high-piled,
After whose lock, with bosom heaving,
He breathless grasps in longing wild:
He sees the Future, waste and arid,

In hideous length before him stretch;
About he roams, alone and harried,
And seeks himself, poor restless wretch!--

I fall upon his bosom, tearful:
I once, like thee, with woe was wan;
But I grew well, am strong and cheerful,
And know the eternal rest of man.

Thou too must find the one consoler
Who inly loved, endured, and died--
Even for them that wrought his dolour
With thousand-fold rejoicing died.

He died--and yet, fresh each to-morrow,
His love and him thy heart doth hold;
Thou mayst, consoled for every sorrow,
Him in thy arms with ardour fold.

New blood shall from his heart be driven
Through thy dead bones like living wine;
And once thy heart to him is given,
Then is his heart for ever thine.

What thou didst lose, he keeps it for thee;
With him thy lost love thou shalt find;
And what his hand doth once restore thee,
That hand to thee will changeless bind.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Anselm Kiefer: "We must set up the laws and at the same time, oppose them."

From Chapter Seven of John C. Gilmour's Fire on the Earth:  Anselm Kiefer and the Postmodern World
(Philadelphia: Temple U Press, 1990):

Central to [Jean-Francois] Lyotard's position is the following:

A postmodern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he writes, the work he produces are not in principle governed by preestablished rules, an they cannot be judged according to a determining judgment, by applying familiar categories to the text or to the work.  Those rules and categories are what the work of art itself is looking for.  The artist and the writer, then, are working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will h ave been done.  ( citation from p 81 of Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge Manchester University Press, 1984).

Kiefer endorses just such an assessment of the situation of the contemporary artist.  As the result of historical development in the twentieth century (particularly the two world wars), he holds that "the structures are broken.  The class that establishes structures is missing.  And what makes our position so difficult today is that we have to be both:  we must set up the  laws and, at the same time, oppose them." 

quote from: Ein Gespracht:  Joseph Beuys, Jannis Kounellis, Anselm Kiefer, and Enzo Cucci ed. Jacqueline Burickhardt, Surich: Parkett Verlag, 1986.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Art Section Meeting April 18, 2011 -Report from Nathaniel Williams

From 3-4:30 pm we reviewed and reflected on Steiner’s lecture “The Spiritual Being of Art.”  Here Steiner characterized, in a vividly pictorial narrative, the missions and sufferings of the hierarchical beings in their endeavor to guide humanity in the renewed, individual paths of the arts, including dance, acting, sculpture, architecture, painting, music, and poetry.  

Our discussion brought us to questions about the qualitative nature of true, genuine, healing art.  How does the thought of Walter Benjamin appear in this light; how does the effective aura of healing art relate to his aura of singularity?  What is it in what Steiner refers to as “semblance” that lifts the natural and sensory to a more spiritualized manifestation in art?   

To pursue these queries we decided to take up Ursula Gruber’s article The Heart-Sun-Space and The Christ-Michael Language of the Visual Arts [printed in the 2010 Autumn-Winter issue of the Art Section Newsletter] at our next meeting.  This will take place at the “Columbia House” on Monday, June 13th at 3 pm.  Note that this meeting date has been changed from June 11th.

There then followed a short preview, from some of those present at the meeting, of what they are working on towards the August Conference on the theme of “Fear.”