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Friday 26 December 2014

You (V) (Hölderlin)


Rock paintings from the Western Cape, Cederberg, South Africa: photo by Jimfbleak, 2007

O Earth Mother, who consents to everything, who forgives everything
don’t hide like this....................................................
and tell
Her Power is sweetened in these rays, the Earth before her
...........conceals the children
of her breast in her cloak, meanwhile we feel her,

and the days to come announce
that much time has passed and often one has felt
...........a heart grow for you inside his chest
They have guessed, the Ancients, the old and pious Patriarchs,
...........and in the secret they are, without even knowing it,
in the twisted chamber, for you, the silent men
but still more, the hearts, and those you have named Amor,
or have given obscure names, Earth, for one is shamed
to name his inmost heart, and from the start however man
when he finds greatness in himself and if the Most High permits,
He names it, this which belongs to him, and by its proper name
and you are it, and it seems
to me I hear the father say
to you honor is granted from now on
and you must receive songs in its name,
and you must, while he is distant and Old Eternity
.........becomes more and more hidden every day,
take his place in front of mortals, and since
you will bear and raise children for him, his wish
is to send anew and direct toward you men’s lives
when you recognize him.......but this
directive which he inscribes in me is the rose
Pure sister, where will I get hold, when it is winter, of these
flowers, so as to weave the inhabitants of heaven crowns
It will be
as if the spirit of life passed out of me,
because for the heavenly gods these signs
of love are flowers in a desert.........I search for them, you are hidden

You (V) (Hölderlin): from TC: The Sand Burg (Ferry Press, London, 1966)

Sandstone with San / Bushmen rock paintings, Karoo System, Amathole Mountains, South Africa: photo by Lysippos, 16 November 2008

...the painters actualized the tiered cosmos and their journeys through it... the three levels were not merely conceptual: they were manifest in the rock shelters. The painted images of another world made sense because of their location on the 'veil', the interface between materiality and spirituality. The rock wall on which paintings were placed was not a "tabula rasa" but part of the images: in some ways, it was the support that made sense of the images. Art and cosmos united in a mutual statement about the complex nature of reality.

David Lewis-Williams on South African San rock art, in The Mind and the Cave, 2004

We must reckon with the fact that, basically, even events in the sky could be imitated by people in earlier times. Modern man can be touched with a pale shadow of this when he looks through a mask, or when, on southern moonlit nights, he feels mimetic forces alive in himself that he had thought long since dead, while nature, which possesses them all, transforms itself to remember the moon. But he is transported into this very force field by his memories of childhood. The gift we possess for seeing similarity is nothing but a feeble vestige of that powerful compulsion to become similar and to behave mimetically.

Walter Benjamin: extract from The Lamp, a fragment composed in early 1933 and unpublished in the writer's lifetime. Translated by Rodney Livingstone in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2: 1927-1934 (1999)

San / Bushman rock painting of an Eland, Ukalamba Dragensberge, South Africa: photo by Lukas Kaffer, 6 August 2007

San (the "dancing" Kudu) and Khoekhoen (the abstract figures) at Twyfelfontein, Namibia: photo by Hans Hillewaert, 21 June 2007

Ancient Bushman rock painting, Spitzkoppe, Namibia: photo by Katxijasotzaile, 30 September 2006


billoo said...

A presence revealed by pleasure. Each creature here is at home in man..They are making a single sign, and they are dancing in a circle to make this sign..They were for the dark. They were hidden in the dark so that what they embodied would outlast everything visible.
--John Berger.


Unknown said...

Someone told me that, upon seeing the cave paintings at Niaux, T. S. Eliot remarked in a French phrase, "Quelle grande goulade!"––supposedly meaning "What a great slide!" or "It's been downhill ever since!" I find no such word in French dictionaries, but it's a good story, all the same.
Hugh Kenner places Eliot in the caves, but his version of how Eliot reacted is different.

Anonymous said...

soothing amazing words...thanks Tom!

TC said...

Many thanx, pippels.

I've always suspected the dark might outlast the light. It was here first, and it has lasted the longest. They say it's always darkest just before the dawn.

Hopeful, I call that.

Can it be Hugh made Eliot visit the painted caves at Disneyworld?

(I've heard they have a great waterslide.)

Unknown said...

Yes, "waterslide." Hugh says Pound and Eliot went together. I think the French word Eliot used was "glissade." Best of 2015 to T & A!

TC said...

Yes, Bill, glissade, that's it exactly.

Personal note, the one time somebody was foolish (well, kindly) enough to take me for an outing to one of the local rock-crag scenic vista points, all my protestations re. my brilliantly herniated lumbar disc were in vain, and indeed I did somehow manage the ascent... but then, the coming down. Impossible. Embarrassment, humiliation, cowardice, all upwelling at once. Finally I opted for a glissade, that is, sliding down from rock to rock on my ancient bony white backside. And by this means have survived to whinge on further, into the festive Hölderlin night.

Anyhow, yes and a happy one to you & yours as well. Pretty quiet over here, cold, all the living went off undercover before dusk.

As I laboriously and with all due meditative consideration as befits perhaps not so much the season as the dementia, look back upon the variegated glory of the years, I am now, by the way, entertained by a memory of the New Years Eve of some faraway year, might be '69, must have been the year before you came to Bobo, or maybe you were there -- anyway huge storm night, drove my powder blue 53 Chevy pickup down to Sharons, party chez Gordon, Lewie flirting surreptitiously with the local Muse, acid awareness everywhere and too much, ended up down on beach agape as vast high-tide breakers pounded in against the seawall.

Odd memory reminded me the place had character, before the movie stars and designer heiresses bought it all up, guess I needed reminding, oh well, la vida.

Walkman radio earplug voice reports Oakland police have just created a bully kettle at 17th and Broadway. It is one minute to midnight. Feels almost like home.

TC said...

Well, true to the manner of the house, I guess I jumped the gun a bit, there.

Still almost an hour more of it left to be endured.

"People getting a little but hyphy," KPFA gal apprentice who calls herself, unless my hearing is going the way of the rest, Sexy Love, reports via relay from Sabrina Jacobs, in the streets.

Ok, so when does the REAL party start?