Arts Still Dead Narrative
posted by July 20 at 14:12 PMon
My correct position on the death of narratives is accurately expressed by the poem “La Cloche fêlée”:
It is bitter and sweet, during winter nights,
To listen, beside the throbbing, smoking fife,
To distant memories slowly ascending
In the sound of the chimes chanting through the fog.
Happy is the bell with the vigorous throat
Which, despite old age, watchful and healthy,
Faithfully sends out its religious cry,
Like an old soldier sentinel under the tent!
My soul is cracked, and when in its boredom
It wishes to fill the cold air of the night with its songs,
Often it happens that its feeble voice
Seems like the thick death-rattle of one wounded, forgotten
By the edge of a lake of blood, under a great pile of the dead,
And who dies, without moving, after enormous efforts. (Translation: a mix of Wallace Fowlie and Geoffrey Wagner)
I enjoy the hearty and holy (and wholly naive) narrative “which sends out its religious cry, like an old soldier sentinel under the tent!” But I cant see this narrative as anything than what it is: as dead as Homer. And as a writer (and filmmaker), I can only say this to myself, in all honesty: “moi, mon âme est fêlée.” My soul/bell is cracked.
By the middle of the 19th century, the greatest poet of that century (Whitman’s negative), Baudelaire knew that the cracked bell would be the condition of the writer, the artists, the drinker—his/her soul is not only cracked for good but also trying to move while under the pile of the dead (Aescylus, Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, John Webster, Spinoza, Nietzche, Hegel, Marx, Dickens, Ruskin, Walter Pater, Joyce, Zora Neal Hurston, Gogol, Richard Wright, Nabokov, Ellison, Bely, Sontag, Sologub, Borges—and all the rest of my dead).
To get excited over a story is to get excited by a voice coming out of a tomb.