Do all men seek after their own monument? Did a man such as Moses act solely for the good of his people? Was he in possession of the voice of his innermost strength, which he understood as God? But the fact that Moses had the conviction to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, and had to instate certain values and custom: this seems to give license to the fact that Moses was able to distinguish, and therefore, come into possession of power; and that the ethos of the Hebrew nation is his creation seen in light of his vision of Jehovah. That he took this upon himself is irrelevant: he was that action: he neither courted it or could be held responsible for it in an altruistic sense. That he was able to distinguish this power: that was his task.
Cynicism, 'kynikos'-doglike-, after the philosopher, Diogenes, The Dog. I understand now why Nietzsche advises one to listen carefully to the cynical: he called cynicism a shortcut to the truth. There is something comforting in cynicism: it is like a concensus: a blind agreement and an empathy. It is not an averaging so much as a status quo; an intuitive knowledge of what is good. What earns cynicism its name is its shedding off of all show of knowledge to follow this intuitive scent. It is a shortcut to truth because it never really knows exactly how to demonstrate in a clear, scientific expression what it senses to be true. Diogenes teaches us to act from gut instinct and present that action in such a way that it becomes a poem, a type of living testament. And yet Alexander, when requested, politely withdrew his shadow to allow Diogenes his precious patch of sun.
The fruit of generations of privation and pain is nobility;-that is, dignity and beauty. A knowing child appears; an image of true royalty; the heir to an inheritance of discipline and pain. An intellect infused with deep respect for limits and boundaries,-felt through a love of form and the ownership of taste. It is this instinct for reverence which makes art possible, because such a person has the strength in the first place to perceive form, and finds a great joy in respect of its autonomy, for it reminds them of their own integrity. With such a noble sensibility, destruction therefore has a serious implication; for it signifies a real conquest, not necessarily (as with an ignoble nature) a striking out against a weakness in themselves, but the prelude to creation.
He is right to say, that to hurt comes from the fear of a want of power in oneself. It is what we do for one or two people that is important: all else seems to me, generality. How can these efforts stretch to laws? Human laws then, have the nature of a conditional agreement. Justice is an intimate agreement, a balance between two equal parties: justice seems only possible if those parties have a sound knowledge of one another, and have a need to interrelate, within a complex terrain. Justice orders such inter-relation, prevents collision and makes it profitable for both parties to relate. To make justice spread any further, for instance, into a constitution, seems almost impossible, unless one is prepared to govern with generalities.
The period of the 'rite of passage' is perhaps the most dangerous point in the life of the individual. The initiation ceremony involved the influx of pain, ritualised pain;-that is, pain delivered at the hands of related family members or blood relations. It was an ennobling of puberty. This action brings the youth (in some Australian aboriginal tribes both the male and female) to the place of subincision. The circumcision actually enabled a line of spirit to be drawn around the individual: of all possible world support to penetrate the individual. It marked their existence, declaring: 'This is the one who is'. One takes rank in silence. Their matriline is severed and rejoined onto that of the Ancestors. To the mother the son is dead. The presence of blood drew out the Serpent: the initiation rite was synonymous with the coming of the Wet. Within the Rose River song cycles of Arnhem Land, the building of huts has 'inside' significance. The rock for the flint knife of the circumcision was quarried from the Mother quarry. Even in the absence of this ceremony, the body invents its own initiation, in the form of illness. The body actually comes to identify a part of itself that needs to become renewed or reinstated. Its warning and solution to this process is the influx of pain or illness.
This is 'paradise': to submit to the continual attainment and cultivation of oneself. To every day receive oneself anew; to accept one's self with graciousness; and to sing (and it is a territorial joy!) oneself before the world which rises from this communion. But to deny this song! That would be to plunge into disease, indifference and nothingness!
Realism is the Gorgon:- you must not look her in the face, but learn to wear the blindfold early; to fashion inside darkness a solid-souled construction; an artificial world like a heavy, burnished mirror, which slays as it illumines.
The Greeks prized awkwardness as a work's great strength. In awkwardness one sensed piety. Awkwardness indicated nascency and an openness to learning. Virtuosity does not always imply mastery: more often than not, its show of perfection is a cover for the most outrageous error.
Odysseus –the eternal time traveller-, sees deep into his soul-; and hearing there the great siren song, yearns always for the sanctity of form, Penelope.
Schopenhauer christened money human happiness in abstracto. Voltaire said money appears when people are to be sent to the boundary line to be shot: it is a seducer which leads the unworthy from themselves one by one, into nothingness where they are destroyed. As Kierkegaard once suggested in regard to priests;-to eliminate a corrupted element, one need no longer, as Moses did, lead them round the desert for a few years until they are dead:-instead, one does well these days to offer high monetary gain. Money seems to guarantee the hunt. Here is the kill, it says: here is a forest full of animals, the lot of it: why the art of hunting, the resourcefulness of war? Let your weapons fall: this gold poem lures the quarry to your feet! The practise of art has nothing to do with money: even the urge to publish, Bernard O'Dowd called a sign of vanity: it betrays a lack of faith in the power of one's body, in logos. The healthy, powerful body needs no show of approval; it only seeks signs of its existence, of its engagement with other things; and it scratches after its reflection everywhere; just as a hen scrabbles in the dirt. Thus the world fills with signs and omens.
We must understand this engagement. The increase ceremonies, and fertility rites in general connect art with procreation; with the search for food and the growth of crops; with building, crafts and toolmaking. The kneading of clay is the creation of bones: the clubs planted in the sand are the bulbous rain clouds of the Wet: the bread is the body:-art is the creation of sacred metaphors. Kierkegaard wondered what natural science stood for: on its own, it is mediocre. But brought into the body, such a science enriches the body by providing it with new fictions and motivations-with sacred metaphor. The necessities of climate and food suggest ceremony, and these acts seduce the body into health and action, perhaps even appropriate to a particular season.
When the Chorus,-that is, a community of true individuals, begins to dream; drama, or a dreaming is born. In Dreamtime culture, the whole of nature is the chorus: plants, rocks, animals-everything is an individual and is partly awake, partly asleep: in one sense, apparent; in another, alive in dreaming. Both worlds are equal and the boundaries between these two worlds are difficult to distinguish. And when we look through the windows of these forms, what do we see? People. Our family. Our ancestors, our family resemblance. A common type of grass seed was painted in the caves as it would be seen in the bush: a spray of grass seeds. But when they saw this painting, its people (that is to say, its artists-the keepers of that image) would have seen in their mind's eye a man, who had a hooked nose (shaped like a grass seed) who wore a belt of woven grasses, and wandered through the bush humming. His humming came to mind when the wind blew through the grass. But the wind and the grasses were also dreaming of the one who created them: and these creators enacted the drama which brought everything to life. One saw people everywhere, in everything; and they were all singing. This is the end of science: to search, and feel and find those names which will adorn our spirit.
One of the most significant facts about art at this time is the lack of the Chorus. In Italian painting, such as that of Michelangelo (for instance the Sistine ceiling) the putti are the Chorus. They lead one up to and intensify the meaning and presence of the Christian Ancestors. In the more prosaic family images in the lunettes, the putti are not present, and the images lose their mythical force. A strange, dark emptiness surrounds the figures instead. The use of an ornate frame was understood as an initiation for the eye. No real mythical fact may be clearly delineated without the Chorus. We lack an inside and a outside.
Soon, all our energy will no more be wasted in the methods of concealment, but will be needed to bear the simple fact we stand each before the other as individuals and nothing else!
This essential, infant self, that volatile seed or potential is what we must learn to associate with any person we meet. We must recognise this outline of innocence, that part of them still linked with love, in order to understand and be at peace with that person. Any war is waged when we are fighting for the appearance of that image; we are fighting for the rights to truly exercise that image in whatever way we see fit. In this sense, as Blake says; one must leave any place or situation when it stands in the way of art, which is the expression of this image.
Melancholy: this knowing sadness.
On Art: 'This is solemn. It is a portrait of everything that will take place in your body from now on.'
It is frightening and exhausting thinking of it sometimes:- the finitude of things,-their infinitude. –That one is working for a whole, one presents this whole, and it is enough over a thousand experiments. But to know it is enough; to be sure that this is so, this takes one's whole strength.
Godard's Hail Mary:- or the type of film I would like to make; because it ties writ, that is, human law, to images we need not struggle to identify with. Music arrives in snippets so that it may function as gilt or highlight to the action: the music is reduced to a small enough curve so that it preserves its motive force. This is what the drawing teacher says about representing curves: break the curve down into sections. Godard is careful never to let hid music fall into the background. His soundtracks always have this quality of relief, somewhat similar to the architecture in Giotto's works. To become soundtrack, the music must stand as an idea, which is not to say it must be illustrative, or even buttress the action. I am beginning to disbelieve the idea of the fantasia: to seek the union of image and music may be a mistake.
To watch the best moments in the film, the sequences where Mary is alone in bed, telling us who she is: these moments may be epitomized in the first words Nietzsche uttered in regards Lou Salome: Who is this soul, who by a single breath has made itself a body? It is like a mortal attain apotheosis. Godard does everything here: sunset frescoes, the glint of Mary's terrified eyes, severe perspective framing ala Uccello; to show that here is a woman no longer even une femme est une femme, but a flesh and blood ideal. What is frightening, and the fact that tortures Mary and makes her almost unrecognizable to Joseph, is that this ideal, in the form of her child, is now being introduced into the world: the logos is breaking through the fabric of eternity into time and space.
A little point, but it makes me smile: a total of perhaps two title cards for the credits! Oh, what an abomination those five-minute credit galleys are: as if the director was compelled to list the entire company for legal purposes or even out of gratitude! And then they present those outtakes as an apology:- at least that seems to suggest on their part: this is still the narrative line: let's better learn to use this negative space!
What is so impressive about Godard is his immediacy. One step further and it could be Giotto. Look at the close ups of the animals in the Nativity scene. He just reaches out and takes the scene, wherever it is, by whatever means or simplification. I liked how the image of the cycles of the moon acted as an internal counter for Mary's pregnancy, while the caption EN CE TEMPS LA (reading AT THIS TIME) for me, kept pushing the entire action into an irrevocable present. This title card, as much as the epical images of the sky and the forest, eternalized the story. Godard uses this counter to great effect in the film A Few Things I Know About Her: he seems to be resizing time so that it becomes a purely filmic or symbolic frame reality. His montage never seems to allow a realistic 'present', but a cinematic, a symbolic frame of time. (You will notice with what joy Mary checks the readings on the petrol pumps? It is as if she is also at home in this almost purely abstract, or man-made time and landscape of whom Godard seems the noted chronicler. This man-made world, an artistic reality, represents am alternative space-time reality. The aspects of this artistic image, so often interpreted cynically or within the thralls of melancholy [see Blade Runner/noir images] is interpreted in Godard (perhaps via the discipline of Pop Art) as a joyous circumstance. This intellectual property is the entire fabric of his movies. How much more hymnic and moody, much more like a religious ritual or oratorio is Tarkovsky!)
But I meant to say:- that the ingratiation of this artistic reality; its representation of the world in a space-time image, or a man/woman binary-signals a ripening of the logos. To quote Godard's Mary: "The Mother and Father must fuck to death over my body, then Lucifer will be defeated." The fabric of Godard's films, as mentioned above, is this warp and weft of what Blake would call 'natural religion': an artistic image which through its canonisation has fallen into anti-art: an unidealistic reality. This prosaic quality, Godard embodies in the character of the science lecturer, who may as well represent a priest. He is a man who has never faced the fact of his own being, but delays his need to take responsibility for himself through a scientific fantasy. Witness the scene where Eva like some Athena binds Pascal while telling him the mathematical solution to the abstract 'equation' of the Rubik's Cube. I saw much of Tarkovsky in the way he rendered Mary's pregnancy in an epical fashion; but also with the foreshortened shots of Mary lying naked in bed, this flattening of perspective seemed to isolate and present Mary as a singular being.
When a scene requires some climatic element, Godard simply reaches out and takes it. For example the scene when Uncle Gabriel suddenly appears in Mary's room and gives poor Joseph the fifth amendment. "Asshole!" "Why? Why?" "It's the law !" "A hole is not a hole!" "Taboo replaces sacrifice." The staging of this scene is a marvellous treatise. Mary, by showing Joseph how their love must be, says: this is me, this baby is you and me-I love you-but the child is also something apart from us.
When the winter hits, and snow covers up the ground; the old world, as it were, is buried within the universal change. The nativity highlights the return to the logos, and this homecoming is reflected in the natural world, of plants and animals-paradise-in which we re-invent the manas.
THE BOY VERSUS THE FISHERMAN
WHY THEY SAY IT'S RUDE TO POINT
(A LAYMAN'S GUIDE TO CONSCIENCE)
CHARACTERS: BOY, OLD MAN
Yet for my innocence, I know
The spell you place on murderers.
My favourite smell? Oh! For me;
It is the grasses, and hot asphalt,
Just before it rains;
Before he, with his heavy tool.
Rumbles in her haunches.
Yes, the smell of dry grasses;
Bright against the coal-black sky.
Oh! Is there a moment like it?
Smell? I said spell.
You are hard of hearing, man.
Huh? Hard to hear it, did you say?
Oh, yes, to hear it ! To hear the rain?
It is often so. I was born to hear the rain!
Not here to reign the born.
Hearing, hearing: hard of hearing!
Peering, you say? Hard up?
Your gallery might do it;-
Call this member off the bench:-
But, (as my eyes have it);
There hang only smatters.
Do you hear anything?
These wires and appliances
They place around themselves:-
The circuits which they build as charms:-
`These drawings made with sand are operational!
The artists is the one who flows;-
To cure disease and fructify:
Oh, if the pictures aren’t drawn properly;
The life support breaks down !
Before these, men must live in fear
Abundance will collapse:-
With good reason too:-
Just as a ballet mistress
Guides the student's awkward limbs;-
Until, disciplined, they flow with ease;
So, fertility has bindings;-
Am I am bound to teach you
The movements and set steps;
Which, not practised, leave her
Sprawling injured on the floor.
The artist's hand is but the graceful twist,
Which teaches life its point.
With due rapport, my friend;-
Had you life over; you'd grow,
I think, into an open man.
I am that already: unbounded:
Smell the pestilence in me.
But compassion, honesty!
As for your hearing: spell, spell, spell!
I said spell! The spell you place on murderers!
The spell! What is this spell?
A magic trick? Am I a magician?
I cannot saw a man in half,
Or pass the rings between him.
Allow me to enliven you.
Now you must hear me out:-
What has this to do with me?
You must have the wrong man.
I'm innocent, until proven innocent.
I'll be the judge of that.
Now hear my evidence.
My drums are snares:
But I'll not interrupt.
There was once a fisherman, who brought
The finest swimmer in this land,
Into a contest of brute strength.
The fisherman was a tortured soul.
To look at, stout and handsome;
With a staring eye, and wrinkled brow.
To know him, was to know the ocean:
He was changeable and unforgiving.
One moment he was dazzling as an opal:
Calm and lucid; yet full of fiery depth-
And charming: every woman's friend.
At the next, he was like an ocean squall:
Suddenly, this darkness, and with it,
A raging, violent fool.
This temperament was weighed
By a quiet ingenuity,
Allied with a love of people, and of life.
The young people trusted him:
He was a vessel for talent and ambition.
Men and women came to him with problems
They were sure he would unravel:-
He had the ear for listening:
Not an empty ear, which like a meter,
Only listens in good time;-
But his concern was genuine, and effortless,-
Just like the shell we press against our ear,
And in it hear the ocean.-
No romantic listener, yet passionate:
He had shares in those he met:
For every person was his teacher.
This man's doubt was born in him.
It was the fear this life he revelled in,
Might one day fall to disrepair,-
That he would be no longer needed;
But, as with an old machine,
Replaced by something sleek and faulty.
As for the swimmer-a teenage boy-,
His body was the index of proportion:
His face was resolute: he had wide, gleaming eyes;
A sturdy back, a taut belly,
Well-sprung shoulders and proficient arms:
Elegant hands and fingertips.
His thighs were solid and his legs were set;
His feet were broad and muscular.
He never waded deep in thought;
But every thought was visible
Across that well-kept form of his;-
His diet was his argument.
He chose simple foods:
He never made a squabble over what he ate;
But ate well, and regularly-
Drinking always water, and resting afterwards,-
Just like one who's won an argument.
His exercise was frequent, not excessive:
He disciplined his body not only where
It was most highly tested, but inside
His everyday routine. When travelling
About the city, he chose to walk:
He built a map within his head
Of hills and valleys long forgotten:-
He was a patient traveller.
He had many friends, and each one seemed
To complement a mood in him.
He met them often; and though he lived alone,
He always had a friend,
Or a special girl around.
His relationships were complex,
Though often brief and casual.
His friends were often jealous of his love.
His ability none questioned-
It being so much part of him,
As to be almost invisible.-
Yet he would never underrate himself.
But in competition-there he was the animal:
There, he would defend the law-a king-;
Receive deserving recognition,
And win the girls again.
One day, the fisherman
Came to the swimmer, and he said:
'I admire your strength, but even so;
'I've often wished to put it to the test;
'For I have, of late, begun to doubt
'The toughness of my soul.
'What would you say to this young man;-
'If I could bring you in, across these breakers;
'To land you right up on this shore?'
'You are an able fisherman,' said the boy;
'And well respected. I understand
'The fears you have about your strength,-
'Though I've seen you dump the sharks
'Against these roaring waves.
'I myself, though young, have often wondered,
'If I am really master of my powers;
'Or if, maybe, one day, my strength will master me;-
'Stand over me, and say; "I have often trapped
"An animal in cruelty-not devouring him-
"But goading him, and making sport of him.
"Just so, I have kept you, paraded you;-
"Let you live this little part alive,-
"Thus keeping your tame portion of eternity,
"So that my friends and I need no longer struggle,
"To find enjoyment in ourselves."
'Thus my powers may one day speak to me;
'As, I see, they have to you.'- 'Ah, my boy!
The fisherman grinned; 'I never knew you were so old!
'But what says the human fish to me?'
'Yes. We shall compete,' replied the boy.
'We will both find answers here. Our powers;
'Seeing us in battle, will look on, and understand: -
'They'll come to realise how we are afflicted,-
'Perhaps become more tolerant of us:-
'No longer testing us beyond capacity:
'For the sake of sport-destroying us
'Inside our talents-tearing us to shreds
'Before our family and friends-;
'But granting us, in moderation,
'Some little peace and strength.
To this, the fisherman nodded in respect:-
'So young and shiny-eyed! Yet I have often wished the same.
'But now, for our contest. Here: clip this harness to your waist.'
'A life-saver's belt,' remarked the boy. The fisherman smirked:
'We are, after all, humane.' There,' replied the boy.
'Now tie your fishing line onto my belt.'
'Done,' replied the fisherman. 'With such tenderness,'
Replied the boy-'Where did you learn to tie these knots?'
'The naval academy,' the fisherman said;
'Back when you were swimming in a bottle.'
'I'll send the bottle back one day,' the boy remarked;
'With my writings stuffed inside:
"From the land of upright men", they'll say; -
"Wish you were here." To this, the fisherman said:
'Write clear English, mind, or it will be too much
'For this sea-dog. Oh, you travellers, lovers!
'(I shout this wide across the ocean) All the newly versed!
'Your bodies are your argument: verse its boast and ointment.-
'Thus beware the badly-hinged metaphor! The fraudulent-
'Those swarthy pirates! – Will stop at nothing
'To make it turn! But you hear them! (Hem. Oh dear!)
'They are badly greased! Thus beware the rejoinder!
'Words are not glue! Each word has weight:
'Let each sit according to its weight (hem), or else!'
'Phew! ' exclaimed the boy. 'After that tirade,
'I'm scared to dive into the sea!'
'Oh, none of that,' replied the fisherman. 'Look here.
'Where you have letters, I employ transparent cable.
'A few sharp tugs upon this line, and in an instant,
'You will know (believe me) you are accounted for.
'With this, I'll find you anywhere, across the blazing ocean.'
'Send your signals, fisherman; - but don't forget
'To sign your name:- dots and dashes, I'm afraid;
'Are mere light readings for this dolphin.-
'Therefore, let our contest bear the title:
'The Boy versus the Messenger.' 'Farewell!'
Replied the fisherman: 'I'll see you on this beach for sure!'
'In that case,' said the boy; 'you will be straining hard!'
Then, with a glimmer, he dove into sea;
And, in a flash, had cut a path through silver.
He swam so fast and firmly, that he surprised the fisherman,
And made his reel to sing. But the fisherman
Kept his hands from off the line; to give the boy
Some friendly licence. After all, he thought;
I have fought, in my long years, some vicious maulers.
But just then came, along the beach, a man
Not unfamiliar to the fisherman.
Although he seemed to walk aloof;
His stride had almost absent bearing.
His eyes flashed, his brow was furrowed, -
But with the pains he'd found
Securing any certain means
For his survival, and his family's, too.
He was an enterprising man, and charismatic:
Yet often a reluctant leader.
He understood a man's true worth-
But with an eye for gain,
And a nose for cheats and liars.
He was open with his friends-
There were no hidden thoughts in him: -
He relied upon his followers:
His trust was their security.
Now you know his character;
Will you act him out?
I shall play the fisherman.
(leaning over Boy's shoulder, pointing)
If he is caught;
What will you do with him?
(straining at his rod)
For whom does he swim?
He has no country.
None. But now that you have startled him;
He will round the globe
As if it were a children's pond; -
Then rise from it-a streaming tower-
To plunge into the Milky Way.
A trifle. No matter.
I shall make of him an anthem.
Do you sing?
But this is stolen land!
An anthem? Not I !
We must have culture; quickly !
Or they shall call us thieves !
Culture? I'm sorry, what-
It grows in yoghurt.
But that is only when
The milk's left out too long.
Ah! Sweet mother's milk
Fresh and pure!
Frothing from my gummy lips,
Flowing freely of each bud!
Perhaps a river dance?
(He attempts the Australian Crawl)
No. It won't catch on.
They will think he swam
In panic from a burning shore.
(There is a sudden, sharp tug on the line)
What! Oh, damn ! Damn !
The boy has snapped the line !
It was that bloody harness !
If not for that, this contest would be mine !
That damn life-saver's belt !
Oh, for a four-inch hook !
Then, I could have landed him !
Oh, for a shark-hook up his arse !
We might settle for a single then.
'The Two-Way Kiss. Yes. Well: that's that !
Fancy a dip ?
We'd better halt here.
So now, each time a finger's waved at you;
Think of the fisherman and his rod; -
And how he strained to bring the swimmer in. –
The boy, and that enterprising man, who came
To make a musical of both. Well, then.
Here ends my history, entitled:
'The boy versus the fisherman,' or:
'Why they say its rude to point,' subtitled:
'The layman's guide to conscience.'
A pretty fable I must say: - it was true, at least.
But do not pin this one on me. Never. No.
Am I a spirit ? Your conscience ? A ringleader ?
No. I am like all three of these: -
A wild-card dealer: never knowing which is trump.
For now; (to save your sanity) I am your friendly guide.
My life shows, on every page, some new crime; -
But every one of these is perfect.
My conscience is unbound. (Perhaps you wish to bind it?)
Its pages blow in countless reams, to fly, and bury
Bone wagglers too conscious of their consciences.
Where the just man walks, there is no precedent.
His conscience clear at last of precedents;
He'll kill his conscience before he does a wrong.
Note the precedent of this word, 'conscience': -
It means, (according to my precedent):
'The art of togetherness'.
OLD MAN :
Yes, and learnt as well in any kitchen.
Your triplets from the fable were unknowing
Of each other: three bottles stacked within the womb.
Two heads facing up, the other with his bottom there.
Any talk between these three was strictly of the vine.