Friday, October 10, 2014

YOU MUST COVER YOUR FACE WITH RED CLOTH: KANDINSKY'S SOUNDS


Bash technology all you want; it is just amazing what turns up on your iphone during yet another night of fractured sleep.

Wednesday, for example, through a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail of literary and artistic crumbs (okay, mixed with a burst of "lena dunham not funny," "lena dunham insufferable" "lena dunham hack writer" in a pathetic attempt to find others who share my literary preferences), around 2:53 a.m. I came across Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky's book of prose-poems and woodcuts: Sounds (Klänge, for all you German speakers).

From wikipedia:

"Kandinsky employs a method borrowed from young children's early attempts at speech; through constant repetition and babbling words are emptied of their meaning, so that only the pure sound remains. It is Kandinsky's aim to uncover this "pure sound" of language, the sound which 'sets the soul vibrating.' [FN omitted]"

Often this kind of thing (Gertrude Stein, for example) makes me retch. But I read on to find this:

Blue, Blue got up, got up and fell.
Sharp, Thin whistled and shoved, but didn't get through.
From every corner came a humming.
FatBrown got stuck - it seemed for all eternity.
———————————It seemed. It seemed.
You must open your arms wider.
————————————Wider. Wider.
And you must cover your face with red cloth.
And maybe it hasn't shifted yet at all: it's just that you've shifted.
White leap after white leap.
And after this white leap another white leap.
And in this white leap a white leap. In every white leap a white leap.
But that's not good at all, that you don't see the gloom: in the gloom is
——— where it is.
That's where everything begins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
With a. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crash. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


1912

Strangely consoled, I put aside my phone, turned my naked face to the window, and slept.



A youtube that accompanied a 2013 MOMA exhibit on Sounds.

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful. How do you find this stuff??

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    1. By hating Lena Dunham obviously. :) Great post, wonderful excerpt. Nice when the internet leads us down those edifying rabbit holes instead of the exasperating ones.

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    2. now, now, Joel, I don't HATE Lena Dunham. I hate that she's not funny. Or I guess what I really hate is that people THINK she's funny. I'm sure I need to do a lot of inner work and a thorough 4th and 5th step and go to Confession...or maybe even be exorcised. Anyway, hate or even extreme annoyance never leads to anything interesting and I certainly didn't happen upon Sounds that way. I may have happened upon it by reading about Forrest Bess who was a Gulf of Texas "outsider" artist/loner who in an effort to become a hermaphrodite performed an operation UPON HIMSELF.

      Rye Beach forever! Thanks for checking in.

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  2. I have great, what's the word, interest in, and tolerance for, experimental writing (to a point!). I am fascinated to read this excerpt by Kandinsky! Am on a somewhat wonky computer at the moment, but I'll watch the video presently. And gosh-oh-golly, can I sympathize with "fractured sleep" and other manifestations of dyssomnia. Am running on 3.5 hours sleep right now!

    As for Gertrude Stein, whom you mention glancingly! I have a degree of fond feeling for writers who treat language as if it were plastic, accentuating qualities of sound over meaning. Stein could be dippy, no doubt about it! And boring! But I am charmed by her Tender Buttons, where the experiment is, to my mind, most successful. (The "language" poet Clark Coolidge seems to be an heir of Stein, with sporadically interesting effects.)

    Heavens, how I babble! Let me simply say THANK YOU for your constant willingness to share your wide-ranging interests with all of us who follow the blog!

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    1. Thank you for supporting the blog from the start. It was four years as of August! Glad you're on the mend, Tom. Maybe when I'm feeling a little stronger myself, I'll check out Tender Buttons.

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