Monthly Archives: April 2007

Moirai

In the space of an hour the women spanned the events of life–death, marriage, continuity, fertility, love, motherhood, desire, choice, absence. Ironic horn of plenty. I sat, half-lost, half-detached, and became aware of the flutter of anxiety. They had moved beyond the ravages of the past to the anxieties of the future; I, who had cocooned myself in the present, was cracked into the future before I was quite ready. A roomful of women, testifying to life.

Dogma (religion and differance)

She was asked to name her devils. Better the known devil than an unknown one, she remembered being told. But–she turned away through the streets–naming gave the things forms other than those before the birth-naming. Things assumed difference after the event was made fact. Annunciation changed everything, as did the pronounciation of the Name thereafter.
 
They wanted her to convert them to the difference, so that the miscreants could be dealt with, when she wanted answers for the pre-natal, the prelapsarian (if birthing was felling) experience.
 
Was that the secret ‘ingit’ of the Virgin birth? The secret of continuity and renewal–the unchangeable, and therefore the untouchable, the pure. The mystery of the Virgin is the mystery of the maintenance of seamless experience before and after the birth, the uninterrupted, the continual, incarnation of name into form, matter and experience undivided by Time.
 
No blood here, no tearing of creator/mother because of the created/child. No blood, nor possession (neither Mary nor Joseph the iconic shepherd are the Christ’s parents by blood or birth–they cannot claim him, they have no claim on him, not even of love which perhaps remained Mary’s special agony). The ravages of division do not announce the advent. Therefore is Christ the figuration of a Love beyond the human.
 
The Virginal seamlessness is what we seek. Life everlasting, because uninterrupted by death between the passing from the human to the divine.  But we are mortal, and our minds more so. We need a metaphor more substantial than the Annunciation, we need the alphabets of our human mired world. Therefore there is Resurrection.

Speaker

He spoke of dissonance and belonging as if they were quiet doves rising in the air. He had somehow tamed the force of life. In his hands it was the white lily, the flowering rod, containing within its self all American identifications as potential and possibility. (H.D.’s lily, not the dissonant discoveries of W.C. Williams.) The plenitude of memory had become the crafted poem, and yet it was not, did not pretend to be, the whole story. He had some secret, that one, the magically outward and displayed grace of the Poet. But this his difference: he was not one who had no time to write of all he saw and knew, one who must tell all lest life ebb before the telling; nay, he was one who folded and unfolded the secrets. He was the bountiful Keeper, the knower, a version of the Singer and the Martyr in the tower of song. That, the sublimated artistic masculinity.

On Beauty–Reflections

They spoke of beauty in art and I thought of beauty in life; and the two far apart. And I thought, only in epiphanic moments do the two converge, when aesthetic marries manifest order, and we are startled, again, with the insight of ethic.

Traditional Eurocentric beauty appears to be characterized by containment, order, symmetry, and a sort of asexuality. Western patriarchal notions of art and religion transcend its norms of sexuality (which is more utilitarian than not) in a tendency toward a religious ideal removed from the reproductive, the necessary and the mortal/transient. Under this rubric, the sexual act mimics the imposition of ideal order upon the manifest world; male/male or male/female copulation would recreate and perpetuate the order of power in the world. Female/female union would upset it, as this would generate not power but force that is neither bilogically procreative nor ideationally recreative of the order of power in the world. The female force is a self-centred force whereas the male force is other-centred; one seeks to move the ‘not-me’ centripetally, the other seeks to subdue all that is centrifugal. Consider the Virgin, Hera the bride, and Diana the virgin huntress. And then consider the Apollonian ideal of masculine beauty, the worshipful in the public realm, beyond the domestic and the necessary, acme of the splendor of ‘god,’ of power.

One notices two trends in the changing perception of beauty in the Western Eurocentric tradition:
1) A movement from the privileging of order (in beauty) to the privileging of power (the manifest splendor of the ordered material)
2) The exteriorization of beauty–
from soul to objective manifestation;
from something to be looked up to (‘beautiful’), to something to be looked down upon (‘cute’, ‘pretty’);
where the outer reflected the inner (aesthetics, religion and sexuality linked to each other), to simulation, simulacra, manifestation
standing for an order (aesthetics) that no longer needs to exist to be assumed (note the pattern within the pattern: a strange reversal of
the Platonic order, where the prior order did not need to exist to be assumed to be true).

In this evolution of beauty, the catastrophic has flourished where the sublime has been lost (therefore fear and awe reign in disproportion to the orderly perception of things, and disorder rules aesthetic perception).

Someone asked of the august speakers, "What is it about an archive that is beautiful?"
At that gathering, as the scholars battled it out, I answered thus to myself: Memory, the ordered remains of our days. The thing apart, the constant field of flowers. An archive is like a constellation, mostly seen. A single artifact, like a star, is worthy of appreciation and study; different and differently worthy is a group pf stars, a field of flowers. The unified order of the world, and yet the notation of each sparrow’s rise and fall. Plenitude is not more satisfying, because more is not necessarily more than one. Yet there is something about the material memories of parallel times that is seductive to the human wish for perennial things. Both archive and artifact, memorial and palimpsest, define more perfectly the edges of the known and the unknown for the ‘I’ that is a moving crutch in time. They are the incarnation of something known and heard about–history, memory, orality, lineage and loss–the imagined imperfect reflection. The artifact, as the archive, is magical because it allows itself–as well as its order, place–to be glimpsed out of time, like the golden deer. Revelation, incarnation, manifestation, is beautiful, and archives appeal to the desire for both order and knowledge, which are related to beauty.
If they asked me again, "What is it about an archive that is beautiful?" I would say now, "Time."

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