What Have I Learned? Or, What To Do With One Fold

March 19, 2010

What Have I Learned? Or, What To Do With One Fold.

Much of the Beauty that arises in art 
comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium. 

- Henri Matisse

I was born on this day.

I have never been more acutely aware of the "limited medium" of my self, this "shell" that my spirit resides within.

Spiritually, I feel less and less limited every day. This is beautiful.

Limited with my human being... here is the struggle, here is the enormous* sorrow, here is the daily, hourly, every single instant, awareness of abject forlornity, despair and anguish.

I imagine a poor hermit crab - nevertheless, still an inspiration for one of the more beautiful books I have read in recent years: Celeste Olalquiaga's The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience:

"A messenger of death, dust is the signature of lost time."

The perfect golden proportions of the nautilus' shell is inhabited by the deformed and monstrous shape of the hermit crab. As the crab grows, it discards its shell to find a larger one. I imagine I'll cultivate a relationship. This seems all too appropriate. And I shall call my crab, Basil Hallward.

So here on the day of my birth, what have I learned?

A great secret (in that I was stupid to it): I have learned the limits of my medium, of my self.

And I now have the wretched** and anguished awareness of everything that I will never be able to do. It sits on me like Fuseli's Nightmare. It is an enormous burden. Every time I wake from a world of dreams to the lineaments of my cold and grey existence, I am greeted with this terrifying-happy-puppy-cutely-licking-my-face awareness.

Dayadhvam: A prisoner who dreams of the key wakes to confirm his imprisonment. Not thinks, dreams.

Or here, in this room with me now, the truly monstrous Skull of A God: long dead, long abandoned, even his bones forgotten.

Am I sad?

Not in the way most might think.

I am sad like Schellling:

"This is the sadness which adheres to all mortal life, a sadness, however, which never attains reality, but only serves the everlasting joy of overcoming. Whence the veil of depression, of heavy-heartedness which is spread out across the whole of nature, hence the profound, indestructible melancholy of all life."

I am undoubtedly becoming more Teutonic in temperament.

I kid.

Happy Day to me.

Here's how I plan to celebrate:

I'll raise my misshaped claw like Beethoven on his death-bed and shake it at the Great No One.

I'll stand next to Thanus in the stern and add voice to make certain his message is heard on Palodes.

"So when we came opposite to Palodes, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thanus from the stern looked toward the land and said the words as he had heard them. "Great Pan is dead." Even before he had finished, there was a great cry of lamentation not of one person, but of many."

I'll blow out the torches, pick up the glasses and give the "Last Call" in the Gardens of the West.

"It is closing-time in the gardens of the West and from now on an artist will be judged only by the resonance of his solitude or the quality of his despair."

I'll drink Black Milk with the shade of Paul Celan.

And while I have Celan at hand, I will make him carve the Holderlinic words he last underlined into my flesh:

"Sometimes this genius goes dark and sinks down into the bitter well of his heart but mostly his apocalyptic star glitters wondrously."

And then he and I will swim for seven days in the Seine.

And I will have my cake, as they say, finally understanding why I cannot also eat it.

"With this Achilles sprang from his seat and killed a sheep of silvery whiteness, which his followers skinned and made ready all in due order. They cut the meat carefully up into smaller pieces, spitted them, and drew them off again when they were well roasted. Automedon brought bread in fair baskets and served it round the table, while Achilles dealt out the meat, and they laid their hands on the good things that were before them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, Priam, descendant of Dardanus, marveled at the strength and beauty of Achilles for he was as a god to see, and Achilles marveled at Priam as he listened to him and looked upon his noble presence. When they had gazed their fill Priam spoke first. "And now, O king," he said, "take me to my couch that we may lie down and enjoy the blessed boon of sleep. Never once have my eyes been closed from the day your hands took the life of my son; I have grovelled without ceasing in the mire of my stable-yard, making moan and brooding over my countless sorrows. Now, moreover, I have eaten bread and drunk wine; hitherto I have tasted nothing.'"" - The last book of the Iliad, XXIV

And I will spend all day long alone in my room making origami blumphhs. - From Between the Folds

"It had teeth and was a powerful predator that captured large fish, perhaps sharks, maybe even other whales." - ARTICLE

*enormous = "a monstrous wickedness" 

**wretched = something beautiful, twisted just once