28 September 2010

28 septembre/Cluny #2 with Liz

 28 septembre, 2010

Expansive swaths of slate-grey sky, kids with back packs striding crossing the rue de l'Hôtel de Ville below on their way to school, the coal-black spire of Notre Dame pointing a warning finger heavenward like the Wicked Witch of the West in goth Gaultier... another 8 a.m. in Paris. 
I'd lke to share this e-mail exchange with my friend Liz Schultz to provide a frame for the two videos (second one included in this entry--click here) inspired by the works I saw at the Musée du Moyen Age/Cluny and to perhaps free this format up to a more open flow rather than so much of my obsessive (often naked) navel-gaving. Thanks, Liz!


Dear Peter,

...the painful intensity of my sensations, even when they are happy ones; the blissful intensity of my sensations, even when they are sad.

 I'm writing on a Sunday, the morning far advanced, on a day full of soft light in which, above the rooftops of the interrupted city, the blue of the always brand-new sky closes the mysterious existence of stars into oblivion.

    In me it is always Sunday...

    My heart is also going to a church, located it doesn't know where.  It wears a child's velvet suit, and its face, made rosy by first impressions, smiles whithout sad eyes above the collar that's too big.

                                                                        -The Book of Disquiet

                                                                             Fernando Pessoa




This brings tears to my eyes. Thank you. I have spent many love-lorn and passionate days and nights in Lisbon. And I know of Pessoa's work. How wonderful to be reminded...

Also, my U-M colleague Heidi Kumao has a video in GR. I'll send you the link here. http://www.mlive.com/artprize/index.ssf/2010/09/watch_video_sculpture_that_won_fountain_street_churchs_best_of_show_artprize_award.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+grpress+(The+Grand+Rapids+Press+Latest+News+|+MLive.com)

Be Well!



I have been thinking about the Cluny video of September 26 and had to pull out Violence and the Sacred by Rene Girard.  Here is an except........

    I began by remarking on the cathartic function of sacrifice, and went on to define the sacrificial crisis as the loss of this function, as well as of all cultural distinctions.  If the unanimous violence directed against the surrogate victim succeeds in bringing this crisis to an end, clearly this violence must be at the origin of a new sacrificial system.  If the surrogate victim can interrupt the destructuring process, it must be at the origin of structure. We shall see further on whether it is possible to verify this assertion with regard to those rights and regulations that are essential to a cultural order -- festivals, rites of passage, proscriptions against incest, etc. At present we have good reason to believe that the violence directed against the surrogate victim might well be radically generative in that, by putting an end to the vicious and destructive cycle of violence, it simultaneously initiates another and constructive cycle, that of the sacrificial rite -- which protects the community from that same violence and allows culture to flourish.

    If this is true, the generative violence constitutes at least the indirect origin of all those things that men hold most dear and that they strive most ardently to preserve.  This notion is affirmed, though in a veiled and transfigured manner, by the many etiological myths that deal with the murder of one mythological character by other mythological characters.  That event is conceived as the origin of the cultural order; the dead divinity becomes the source not only of sacred rites but also of matrimonial regulations and proscriptions of every kind; in short, of all those cultural forms that give man his unique humanity.

You make a beautiful sacrificial victim in the video!



Wow. You are a reader! The presence of a "surrogate victim" is important in this...if the cycle of actual violence that humans so easily fall prey to to purge, gain power, or have a collective catharsis is to end. Thus Jesus on the cross, etc. I'm aware of how deeply in my body memory this sacrificial impulse or need to be wracked by an inner "violent" catharsis is for certain trauma to be released. not just sexual, but a greater kind of "shaking", like animals do to release the fear and shock lock after trauma. And the "beautiful" or the esthetic of such suffering, made so potent in medieval art... it certainly created a huge language and iconography of surrogate victims and sacrifice a la Christianity and its strange and wonderful perversions! Lots to ponder. 

I'm having fun reading Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" here, surrounded by evidence and having the actual pendulum only a 10-minute walk away! 

A new series of "Studies" that sequence and re-format the scenes in the small windows of the Cluny video will appear tomorrow. 



Don't forget the archetypal image of Dionysos and the mysterious cruciform structure, an intimation of Dionysos' impending stay in the underworld.  And with that thought be sure to have a good glass of wine with me in mind...............


PS. Read Eco's Foucualt's Pendulum many years ago and am remembering that it dealt more with the philosophy of Michel Foucualt and the discursive nature of knowledge than the Foucualt pendulum that aligns one with the rest of the universe. Eco is a wonderful writer!



Do you mind if I include our little exchange in  journal entry on my website? If so, can I keep your identity there as Liz Schultz-- and take out your e-mail address? P


I suppose if you are in my dreams, I can be on your website! Thanks for asking - I am honored.  Do as you feel works best for your journaling needs.




    It is pleasant to open one's hands and allow to flow freely that emptiness-cum-fullness which one was cruelly holding back.  Then suddenly to discover to one's amazement: I have opened my hands and heart and am losing nothing!  And then sudden fear.  Wake up! for there is danger in having one's heart so free.

    Until one perceives that in this expansiveness lies the perilous pleasure of existing.  And there is a strange reassurance:  always having something to squander.  So hold back nothing of this emptiness-cum-fullness.  Squander it.

                                                                    -Clarice Lispector