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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...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yikes, too much signposting, but what can I do?

Chapter 4

The Grain of the Voice

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. As we saw in Chapter 1, Lorca himself is purposefully slippery, applying the term to the visual arts as well as to the composition (not exclusively the performance) of music and poetry. 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” ( ). My next task, then, is to treat the duende more literally as a theory of performance, rather than viewing performance as a convenient metaphor for the dramatic struggle of artistic creation. As in chapter 2, in which I took Lorca at his word in interpreting the duende lecture as a theory of cultural exceptionalism, this more literal-minded approach does not exclude allegorical displacements. In fact, it turns out to be extremely difficult to look at performance in itself, without diplacing 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.•••

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