Therefore nature, art, sensation, emotion. Chocolate. Links from friends.
“The talent of composition is very dangerous, — the striking out the heart of life at a blow, as the Indian takes off a scalp” [Thoreau]
|Remy de Gourmont [pic courtesy of le tiers livre]|
from Ezra Pound’s “De Gourmont: A Distinction” in The Little Review, Vol. V, Feb-Mar, 1919:
De Gourmont was an artist of the nude. He was an intelligence almost more than an artist . . . He is a poet, more by possessing a certain quality of mind than by virtue of having written fine poems . . .
He was intensely aware of the differences of emotional timbre; and as a man’s message is precisely his façon de voir [way of seeing], modality of apperception, this particular awareness was his “message.” . . .
He does not grant the duality of body and soul. . . . “My words are the unspoken words of my body.” . . .
sex is not a monstrosity . . . Sex, in so far as it is not a purely physiological reproductive mechanism lies in the domain of aesthetics, the junction of tactile and magnetic senses; as some people have accurate ears both for rhythm and for pitch, and as some are tone deaf, some impervious to rhythmic subtlety and variety, so in this other field of the senses some desire the trivial, some the processional, the stately, the master-work. . . .
De Gourmont is interested in hardly anything save emotions, and the ideas that will go into them, or take life in emotional application. . . .
“La virginite n'est pas une vertu, c'est un etat; c'est une sous-division des couleurs.” [Virginity isn’t a virtue, it’s a state; it’s a subset of colors] . . .
Gourmont's essays . . . [t]aken together . . . are a portrait of the civilized mind. I incline to think them the best portrait available, the best record that is of the civilized mind from 1885-1915. Gourmont arouses the senses of the imagination, preparing the mind for receptivities. His wisdom, if not of the senses, is at any rate via the senses. . . .
“Le caractère fondamental du citoyen est donc le dévouement, la résignation et la stupidité; il exerce principalement ces qualités selon trois fonctions physiologiques, comme animal reproducteur, comme animal électoral, comme animal contribuable.” [The citizen’s fundamental character is devotion, resignation and stupidity; he practices these qualities principally in three physiological functions, as an animal breeding, as an animal voting, as an animal being taxed.] . . .
Christianity lends itself to fanaticism. Barbarian ethics proceed by general taboos. The relation of two individuals in relation is so complex that no third person can pass judgment upon it.
|William Carlos Williams, self portrait, 1914 [pic courtesy of University at Buffalo]|
from William Carlos Williams's "The Doctor" in The Little Review, Vol. V, Feb-Mar, 1919:
Once I came near drowning. I dived from a row-boat during a storm to recover my oars which I had lost, having “caught a crab.” I had light clothes on. I am not a very strong swimmer. I recovered one of the oars but the wind carried my boat away faster than I could follow. The waves were high. I swam as hard as I could until out of breath. My clothes began to drag. I tried to remove my shoes. I couldn't. I swallowed some water. I thought I was done for when there crossed my mind these sentences: So this is the end? What a waste of life to die so stupidly.
The thought was singularly emotionless, simply a clear vision of the situation. So much was this so that I was instantly sobered. My action taking on at once the quality of the thought, tucking the one oar under my left arm I swam quietly along hoping someone would see the empty boat and come out for me, which a man did. My courage, if you will, turned upon the color of my thought.