Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Antonin Artaud's rediscovery of writing

Antonin Artaud, the great french playwright, essayist, actor, poet and theatre director, was never without a pencil and a notebook where he would scribble furiously his thoughts. In the last couple of years of his life, somewhere between 1946 and 1948, one day, while visiting some friends in Paris and as they were all seated at the table, Artaud felt empty and had a feeling that he was no longer capable of writing anything. This is how Domnine Milliex, who was a little girl at the time, remembers the scene when Antonin Artaud came over for lunch:

" As a child I belonged to the generation that had to stay at the table, quiet and eat with the grown ups and I have this memory of the meals taking too long. And there, that day, there was a long discussion at the table. I think Antonin Artaud was probably feeling a bit depressed that day and they were talking, and he said that he did not know how to write anymore, he was not able to write, he did not know how to write. I had just started school and had just begun to learn how to read and write. After the meal, I timidly approached him and told him that I could help him. I said to him, Monsieur Artaud, I go to school and I am learning how to write and I am willing to show you too if you want. You see, I took literally the discussion at the table. What is wonderful is that Artaud went ahead and played the game. We got dressed, walked downhill towards Marne to go find a stationary shop. We bought a notebook, pencils, a rubber and a pencil sharpener. When we got back, we sat at the table and I instructed him how to make the "i" in the alphabet which was the easiest letter to write. I can't say how much time this took because I do not experience time today the same way I used to do when I was a child. It could have been half an hour or a quarter of an hour or a whole hour, but I have the impression that we worked and Artaud worked hard on this, filling in the pages. In the end, I had taught him how to write letters like we learned at school. I had my notebook and he had his and I inspected his work. He played the game until the end."

Artaud, having filled a whole notebook repeating letters of the alphabet, showed it with pride to his fellow writers, playwrights, actors and intellectuals that formed his circle. This was his new work, equivalent to what he had written until then. The absolute derision of the process of writing by one of the greatest thinkers and essayists the world has ever known.

(This story is one of many surrounding the legend that was Antonin Artaud and can be found in Gérard Mordillat's and Jérôme Prieur's documentary "La véritable histoire d'Artaud le momo")   

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"In Blackwater Woods" - A poem by Mary Oliver

"In Blackwater Woods" (1984) by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

in salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Les inRocKuptibles No.1000

Le magazine "Les Inrockuptibles" existe depuis 1995 et pour fêter son 1000ème numéro, l'équipe éditorial a décidé de suivre la méthode de Georges Perec dans son livre "Je me souviens". 1000 petit shoots mnésiques alors dans la forme "Je me souviens", polyphoniques et inédits. Mille éclats de mémoires ou on revis des moments fort dans l'histoire du journal. Voici trois petits échantillons...   

"Je me souviens de mon premier voyage aux USA, pour interviewer John Lee Hooker chez lui, en Californie. Un petit pavillon de banlieue, des Cadillac énormes garées devant. J'avais touché ses doigts et sa guitare, comme on rencontre le pape. Enfoncé dans son canapé pendant l'interview, il s'était presque endormi. Moi, je me suis éveillé ce jour-là." Stéphane Deschamps

"Je me souviens que pour se souvenir, Will Self notait toutes ses idées sur des Post-it qu'il collait sur les murs de son bureau, au dernier étage de sa maison au sud de Londres. A la fin, le bureau entier était hérissé de petits carrés jaunes. J'avais eu l'impression d'entrer dans un organisme vivant: sa mémoire." Nelly Kaprièlian

"Je me souviens avoir animé une rencontre en public avec le rare Robert Wyatt. En montant sur la scène, il a dit: "Ah oui, les téléphones portables." Alors que tout le monde s'empressait de les éteindre, il rigola: "Non non, laissez-les allumés et faites-moi écouter votre sonnerie tous en même temps..." JD Beauvallet


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Το λεωφορείο που δεν σταμάτησε...

Έξω από την σχολή Κωφών στο Πανόραμα Θεσσαλονίκης, βρίσκεται η στάση λεωφορείων που φέρει το ίδιο όνομα. Έχει μείνει αναλλοίωτη στη μνήμη μου η εικόνα, πάνε πολλά χρόνια τώρα, όταν υπηρετώντας τη στρατιωτική μου θητεία, στο στρατόπεδο Παπαπασχάλη μεταξύ Χορτιάτη και Πανοράματος, βρέθηκα απέναντι από αυτή τη στάση. Είχαμε παρκάρει το στρατιωτικό όχημα στο πλάι του δρόμου να κάνουμε ένα τσιγάρο πριν φτάσουμε πάνω. Είδα τότε να βγαίνει από τη σχολή και να πηγαίνει στη στάση του λεωφορείου ένα παιδί. 'Οταν βρίσκεσαι μόνος μέσα στη σιγή, ο χρόνος φαίνεται πολλές φορές ότι παγώνει. Η απουσία του ήχου, είναι στιγμές που σε ακουμπάει σε βελούδινα μαξιλάρια. Πρέπει με τις υπόλοιπες αισθήσεις σου, τέλεια κουρδισμένες, να κάνεις εσύ το πρώτο βήμα κάθε φορά για να πας να συναντήσεις αυτόν τον άλλο κόσμο που δεν σταματά να κινείται γύρω σου μέσα στην σιωπηλή ένταση. Το παιδί στράφηκε προς τα εκεί που ερχόταν ο δρόμος προσπαθώντας να διακρίνει το μπλε χρώμα το λεωφορείου από μακριά. Πρέπει να πέρασαν είκοσι πέντε λεπτά. Ήταν άνοιξη και το μάτι του παιδιού έπεσε παραπέρα στο δασάκι με τα πεύκα που μύριζαν. Έκανε μετά ένα γύρο και κατέληξε πάνω στο λουλουδιασμένο θάμνο πίσω από τη στάση. Γύρισε την πλάτη του στο δρόμο μια στιγμή. Τότε ένιωσε το διαφορετικό ρεύμα του αέρα. Γυρίζοντας, είδε ξαφνικά το λεωφορείο να περνάει με ταχύτητα μπροστά από τη στάση. Το λεωφορείο έφυγε. Ύψωσε τα χέρια και μια κραυγή ακούστηκε που σαν να μπέρδεψε εκείνη τη στιγμή τα νήματα του χρόνου και έκανε την εικόνα να επαναλαμβάνεται σε αργή κίνηση στη μνήμη μου για πάντα.

(Με αφορμή ένα πραγματικό περιστατικό που μας αφηγήθηκε ο Ζ.Κ.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"The Armada" - A poem by Brian Patten

Encouraged by the great Philip Larkin, Brian Patten joined Roger McGough and Adrian Henri to form the Liverpool poets. Their main aim was to make poetry immediate and accessible for their audience. Brian Patten's first poetry collection "Little Johnny's Confession" was published in 1967. Since then, he has published numerous poetry collections as well many books, novels and poems for children as well as prose and drama for stage and radio. He has been described as a highly engaging performer, and gives readings frequently. Over the years he has read alongside such poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee and Robert Lowell. 

When Brian Patten was asked what poetry can do, his reply was: "I feel that poetry permits us to wake up our memory and association and view familiar things in a different way. If I was to define poetry, I would say, 'One of the many things a poem can do / Is remind us what we forgot we knew'". 

This is not a poem only about loss. Brian Patten goes much deeper, exploring themes such as childhood, the passing of time and the way we conceive the present and the past. What makes this poem so powerful is the truth that resonates in every word. The simplicity of every line, the choice of words, the perfect structure and the lucid awareness of the phrase, in the middle of the poem, defining time revisited.

The Armada (1996)

Long, long ago

when everything I was told was believable
and the little I knew was less limited than now,
I stretched belly down on the grass beside a pond
and to the far bank launched a child's armada.
A broken fortress of twigs,
the paper-tissue sails of galleons,
the waterlogged branches of submarines -
all came to ruin and were on flame
in that dusk-red pond.
And you, mother, stood behind me,
impatient to be going,
old at twenty-three, alone,
thin overcoat flapping.
How closely the past shadows us.
In a hospital a mile or so from that pond
I kneel beside your bed and, closing my eyes,
reach out across forty years to touch once more
that pond's cool surface,
and it is your cool skin I'm touching;
for as on a pond a child's paper boat
was blown out of reach
by the smallest gust of wind,
so too have you been blown out of reach
by the smallest whisper of death,
and a childhood memory is sharpened,
and the heart burns as that armada burnt,
long, long ago.

Taken from Brian Patten's poetry collection "Armada" published in 1996 by Flamingo

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Impressions of India in 2 short films by Brandon Li

Brandon Li, a talented young traveller, director and editor, in two really short films, captures all the mystery, beauty, harshness and poetry of the moment, of everyday life in India. Today, affordable technology has brought artistic expression via cinematography at the reach of everyone. But it's still down to what you do with the means available, what part of yourself is reflected in the lens, your sensibility, imagination and drive to create. 

Gateway to the Ganges from Brandon Li on Vimeo.

My Kochi from Brandon Li on Vimeo.

"Home Movie" - A poem by Samuel Menashe

Home Movie

Awake at once
No space between
The day and dream
Seen as it runs
Me off the screen
No time to splice
Slices of Life—
I'm wide awake,
No second take.

Taken from the book: "Samuel Menashe, New and Collected Poems - edited by Christopher Ricks" (2009)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Οι ειδήσεις και μια "Ιστορία" του Γιάννη Ρίτσου

Διαβάζοντας πρόσφατα στις ειδήσεις για τα τραγικά, επανωτά αεροπορικά δυστυχήματα, με τόσους ανθρώπους που χάθηκαν μέσα σε μια στιγμή στην απύθμενη θάλασσα, κουβαλώντας μαζί τους σαν άυλες βαλίτσες, ο καθένας την προσωπική του ιστορία, μου ήρθε στη μνήμη ένα γραπτό του Γιάννη Ρίτσου με τίτλο "Ιστορία", από το βιβλίο του "Χειρονομίες" που εκδόθηκε για πρώτη φορά το 1972.


Τα σχέδια δε χρησίμευαν σε τίποτα - κάθε τόσο ανατρέπονταν,
όπως εκείνο το λεωφορείο στην εξοχή, - οι πιότεροι σκοτώθηκαν,
τους άλλους τους κουβάλησαν στο πιο κοντινό νοσοκομείο· ένας τροχός
κύλησε κάτου· τον βρήκε ένα παιδί· σκάρωσε πρόχειρα ένα χειραμάξι·
γυρίζει τώρα στο προάστιο· πουλάει πορτοκάλια· τα πορτοκάλια λάμπουν,
ένας σωρός ασήμαντοι ήλιοι. Τόσο απλά περνάμε. Τόσο απλά
μιλάμε, ξεχνάμε, συνηθίζουμε. Τόσο απλά μας ξεχνάνε."

Γιάννης Ρίτσος

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Georg Heym (1887-1912) : German Expressionism's Rebelious Answer to Edgar Allan Poe

On that fateful day, on the 16 of January 1912, Georg Heym's desperate cries for help were suddenly heard echoing through the woods on both sides of the frozen river Havel. His good friend Ernst Balcke had just dissapeared into the cold murky waters of the river as the icy surface suddenly cracked and gave in while they were skating. With the scates still attached to his feet, Heym dived repeatedly under the huge floating blocks of ice surrounding him, looking for his friend. In one final attempt, he took literally a final breath, dived deep down and literature lost one of the greatest German expressionist writers. From a very young age, Heym questioned social conventions showing a fiery and rebellious attitude. He was often expelled from schools and throughout his life he never shied from asserting his personality and individuality. His sensitive nature soon found expression through the medium of poetry. In 1911, one year before that fatal scating accident, he managed to publish his poetry collection "Der Ewige Tag" (The Eternal Day). After his death, a collection of short stories was also found among his papers. It took more than a year for a publishing house to take the risk to publish this collection under the title "Der Dieb" (The Thief). In these short stories, Georg Heym tackles the themes of obsession, madness, social upheaval, murder and disease, inviting the reader to embark on an expressionistic descent into darkness. The symbolic and lyrical depictions of the characters and themes in these stories were in fact born from an acute conscience of the deplorable conditions that prevailed in big cities like Berlin in the beginning of the 20th century. They are true reflections of an age of brutal change, poverty and decadence where shadows can take the strangest of angles and the horrific and ugly specters of war,famine and disease are just around every corner. When you read these stories you can sense the influence of the French poètes maudits, Baudelaire and Rimbaud, you can imagine the drawings and paintings of George Grosz, Edward Munch and Otto Dix come to life, you become the somnambulant in the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. At the other side of the Atlantic ocean, sixty years earlier, Edgar Allan Poe, would have certainly recognized in the person of Georg Heym, a fellow spirit, another master of the macabre.