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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Almost got rid of the signposting here, maybe 3rd version will work

Interpretations of Lorca’s duende often treat it as though it were merely a variation on the familiar theme of poetic or artistic inspiration—the Spanish version of the muse. Lorca himself, as we have seen, is purposefully slippery, applying the term to the visual arts as well as to the composition (not exclusively the performance) of music and poetry, and presenting his theory as an alternative to the muse and the angel. Nevertheless, he does indicate that the duende is most duende-like in the live performance of music, poetry, and dance, since those art-forms require “un cuerpo vivo que interprete, porque son formas que nacen y mueren de modo perpetuo y alzan sus contornos sobre un presente exacto” (a live body to interpret, since they are forms that are born and die perpetually and erect their shapes over an exact present).

It is striking to conceive the dramatic struggle of artistic creation itself—as in the painter’s struggle with the blank canvas or the poet’s with the blank page—in its performative dimension. (Although poetry can be a performative art, many poets have adopted Lorca’s duende without relating it directly to performance.) To read the duende as yet another theory of inspiration, however, is to lose sight of performance in a more literal sense. The more literal-minded approach I am proposing, of course, does not exclude allegorical displacements: in fact, it turns out to be extremely difficult to look at performance in itself, without displacing it by making it stand in for other values. My emphasis on performance and orality, then, is a heuristic device designed to bring a particular aspect of Lorca’s poetics into sharper focus.

4 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

For what it's worth, I think the second paragraph avoids signposting only formally. You're talking about what you're talking about, in almost every sentence. Signpostlessness may not literally be what you're striving for, of course, but if it were I think it would look different.

Jonathan said...

Yes, Vance. I define signposting as an explicit, formal indication of where the argument is going. I want my readers to know where I am going, but without erecting a big ole sign to that effect: "detour up ahead in the next paragraph." I call this "signposting without signposting."

Andrew Shields said...

Trying to push it even further:

Interpretations of Lorca’s duende often treat it as though it were merely a variation on the familiar theme of poetic or artistic inspiration—the Spanish version of the muse. Lorca's own slippery usage applies the term to the visual arts as well as to the composition (not exclusively the performance) of music and poetry, even as he presents his theory as an alternative to the muse and the angel. Nevertheless, he does indicate that the duende is most duende-like in the live performance of music, poetry, and dance, since those art-forms require “un cuerpo vivo que interprete, porque son formas que nacen y mueren de modo perpetuo y alzan sus contornos sobre un presente exacto” (a live body to interpret, since they are forms that are born and die perpetually and erect their shapes over an exact present).

The dramatic struggle of artistic creation itself—as in the painter’s struggle with the blank canvas or the poet’s with the blank page—has a striking performative dimension. (Although poetry can be a performative art, many poets have adopted Lorca’s duende without relating it directly to performance.) But the duende should not be reduced to yet another theory of inspiration, for that would be to lose sight of performance in a more literal sense. This more literal-minded approach certainly does not exclude allegorical displacements: in fact, it turns out to be extremely difficult to look at performance in itself, without displacing it by making it stand in for other values. My emphasis on performance and orality, then, is a heuristic device designed to bring a particular aspect of Lorca’s poetics into sharper focus.

Andrew Shields said...

I left the first person at the end of the second paragraph for emphasis.