Monday, October 06, 2008

when seismographs hide under the stairs confronted by morphine...

cabinet card musician with horn 1880's

"the poet is like a seismograph that vibrates from every quake, even if it is thousands of miles away. it's not that he thinks incessantly of all things in the world. but they think of him. they are in him, and thus do they rule over him. even his dull hours, his depressions, his confusions are impersonal states; they are like the spasms of the seismograph, and a deep enough gaze could read more mysterious things in them than in his poems...

strangely he lives in the house of time, beneath the staircase, where everyone must pass by and no one pays attention... there he dwells and sees and hears his wife and brothers and children as they go up and down the stairs, speaking of him as a man who has disappeared, or even as a dead man, mourning over him. but it is forbidden for him to reveal himself, and so he lives unknown beneath the staircase of his own house...

[the poet] is unable to pass by any thing, however inconspicuous. that there is something like morphine in the world, and that there was ever something like athens or rome or carthage, that there have been human markets and that there are human markets, the existence of asia and tahiti, of ultraviolet rays and the skeletons of prehistoric animals, this handful of facts and the myriad of such facts from all orders of things are somehow always there for him, waiting for him somewhere in the dark, and he must reckon with them."

3 quotes by hugo von hofmannsthal from a lecture entitled 'the poet and the present time', published in 1907 and quoted in philippe alain michaud's abby warburg and the image in motion.

the first quote has me thinking a lot about artists as seismographs, and certainly there have been many, but outside of visual artists i instantly thought aboutedward leon scott's phonoautograph, as well as rilke's essay primal sound, which i've quoted here many times. the second quote i thought was simply beautiful in this idea of the poet's invisibility, and remarkably will, over at journey around my skull, just posted something about victor hugo, and there is an incredible bit about hugo sitting at a dinner table, seeming very much like the poet under the stairs. the third quote would obviously be attractive to one who has gathered so many of the things i share with you here...

and the old gent in the cabinet photo above? no idea who he is, but he certainly looks as if he's spent quite a bit of his own life as a seismograph, hiding under staircases, and reckoning with things in the dark... and the beautiful minimalist architecture as sculpture he is sitting within is somewhat magical in a broken pathetic human kind of way...

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5 Comments:

Blogger ArtSparker said...

The second quote reminds me of the Maeterlinck quoteat the beginning of Young torless, about diving into the depths for jewels, which seem trash when brought to the surface, but somehow remain still glittering beneath the waves.

11:37 AM  
Blogger die Fee said...

This post was seriously inspiring, thank you for posting this quote on your blog.
:)

12:29 PM  
Blogger Dave Lovely said...

I love this photograph. His instrument seems so fragile and ethereal, as he does himself, and he seems enveloped by it, as if it's part of him.

1:44 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

oh young torless, i have to dig it out, i haven't read it in year and everything by musil is great, great, great...

hi die fee, yes, the quotes are beautiful, i am only a gatherer, and in this case lazily gathering from someone who had already done the work. i have another seismograph quote somewhere but i can't locate it in this mess, but if i do, i'll post it.

indeed dave, instruments at times tend to be like that saying about dogs and their owners resembling each other. there's something about that horn that definitely does feel a part of him, as well as a kind of metaphoric portrait of him - as if it was most certainly the only instrument he could, should, or would, ever play!

2:53 PM  
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5:08 AM  

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