Friday, April 4, 2014

'it was never real'

Danger of Death (1954) - Artist: Hans Arp

But What Will Replace It
but what will replace it

the wings drop from the summit of the table
like leaves of earth
before the lips
it is night in the wings
and between the wings the chanting chains are missing

the skeleton of the light empties the fruits

the body of the kisses will never awaken
it was never real
the sea of the wings cradles that tear
the bell speaks with the head
and the fingers lead us across the fields of the air
toward the nests of the eyes
there the names melt

but what will replace it
in the height of the skies
neither sleeping nor waking
for the tombs are brighter than days

~ ~ Hans Arp

[poem written in 1929]

Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts. While guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might. We were seeking an art based on fundamentals, to cure the madness of the age, and find a new order of things that would restore the balance between heaven and hell. We had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a way of deadening men's minds.     
        ~~ Jean (Hans) Arp, in "Dadaland" (1938). 

Today's "power-mad gangsters" use media and entertainment to "deaden men's minds". 

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death ( Penguin, 1986).
Digital distraction, addiction to social media, a marketplace glutted with "must-have" trendy new products, you barely notice the play of the real as play, because the play has become the real.  Dada yesterday; ad ad today.  Define your 'real'.  Lots of people still reading and writing and making art; less and less, perhaps, thinking anything they can say or do or create could "cure the madness of the age".  I was particularly struck by Arp's phrase "find a new order of things to restore balance" because the new world order intended by the Powers That Be is anything but balanced, and one wonders, echoing Arp's words here, should that not work out and things collapse and turn even more chaotic - what will replace it.

Musings on a late, chilly afternoon in April, waiting for the snow to melt away.