Wilcoworld Wednesday, Van Gogh’s Ear, and William Gass

Whew it’s been a sec. since my last cup of real joe.  I’m giddy and laughing to myself, but not yet chattering.

In another shift of habit I did not go out for Cinco de Mayo.  I’m scaling down nightlife and getting up to task.  We’ll see how that all works out…

Ayyy!!! Rahhaahhaahayyyyy!  Brrrahhhahahaaa.   Ayyy!!!!  Imagine you’re a mariachi singer and that will hopefully make more sense for you.

William Gass’ On Being Blue is simply astounding and gets better the deeper into it I get.  And at 91pgs. it takes you to the depths and brings you back before you realize you’ve gone under his spell.  I wrote just a stitch about microfiction yesterday and while reading this philosophical inquiry, I found the longest and one of the most delightful sentences in modern lit.

I’m gonna type it up for you following Gonzo’s orders for physically writing out the works of great authors to get the rhythm and feel for how they pulled their magic:

(P. 56-7)

“So sentences are copied, constructed, or created; they are uttered, mentioned, or used; each says, means, implies, reveals,  connects; each titillates, invites, conceals, suggests; and each is eventually either consumed or conserved; nevertheless, the lines in Stevens or the sentences of Joyce and James, pressed by another into being as though the words before and the words after were those reverent hands both Rilke and Rodin have celebrated, clay calling to clay like mating birds, concept responding to concept the way passionate flesh congests, every note a nipple on the breast, at once a triumphant pinnacle and perfect conclusion, like pelted water, I think I said, yet at the same time only another anonymous cell, and selfless in its service to the shaping skin as lost forgotten matter is in all walls; these lines, these sentences, are not quite uttered, not quite mentioned, peculiarly employed, strangely listed, oddly used, as though a shadow were the leaves, limbs, trunk of a new tree, and the shade itself were thrust like a dark torch into the grassy air in the same slow and forceful way as its own roots, entering the earth, roughen the darkness there till all its freshly shattered facets shine against themselves as teeth do in the clenched jaw; for Rabelais was wrong, blue is the color of the mind in borrow of the body; it is the color consciousness becomes when caressed; it is the dark inside of sentences, sentences which follow their own turnings inward out of sight like the whorls of a shell, and which we follow warily, as Alice after that rabbit, nervous and white, till suddenly-there! climbing down clauses and passing through ‘and” as it opens-there-there-we’re here!…in time for tea and tantrums; such are the sentences we should like to love-the ones which love us and themselves as well-incestuous sentences-sentences which make an imaginary speaker speak the imagination loudly to the reading eye; that have a kind of orality transmogrified; not the tongue touching the genital tip, but the idea of the tongue, the thought of the tongue, word-wet to part-wet, public mouth to private, seed to speech, and speech…ah! after exclamations, groans, with order gone, disorder on the way, we subside through sentences like these, the risk of senselessness like this, to float like leaves on the restful surface of that world of words to come, and there, in peace, patiently to dream of the sensuous, imagined, and mindful Sublime.”

407 words.  One sentence.  Microfiction eat your heart out.

I’m curious about the microfiction thing on this front – can excerpts count?  I think they should following the guidelines I mentioned yesterday.  There, of course, is the caveat that an exerpt usually only makes sense in relation to the whole of the work that contains it; however, a sentence like Gass’  makes all the sense in the world (‘whorling out of its shell’ as it does) and you would not need to know from where it originated.

That, or maybe I’m just infatuated by a 407 word long sentence – A breathe of thought that stretches time away from time itself, contrary to Joseph Young’s conception of microfiction as a return to time zero.

Just a thought.

Speaking of infatuation, how about Arts&LettersDaily.com?  Every single day there is at least one article aggregated there that challenges something you thought you knew.  Today’s was a biggie once again from The Independent:

Speak in my good ear!

Speak in my good ear!

It’s the famous Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe by Van Gogh in 1889.  The article raises questions as to the mythology surrounding how Vicente’s ear came to get chopped.  Popular history tells us that ‘ol Vince did the dirty deed himself… buuuutttt new research by German art historians tells a different version.  From journalist John Lichfield:

“The history of art, and the history of ears, may never be the same again. According to a new book, the painter Vincent van Gogh did not slice off his left ear in a fit of madness and drunkenness in Arles in December 1888. His ear was severed by a sword wielded by his friend, the painter, Paul Gauguin, in a drunken row over a woman called Rachel and the true nature of art.

Gauguin lied about the incident and fled, two German art historians now believe. Van Gogh covered up to protect his friend and was placed in a mental institution. He committed suicide seven months later.”

Crazy bastards.  The article continues:

“The two men were arguing in the street, the authors believe, partly about their competing interest in Rachel but also about the correct way to paint. Van Gogh argued for painting from the life; Gauguin from the imagination. The French painter was threatening to leave for good, wrecking Van Gogh’s dream of founding a utopian artists’ colony in Arles. Gauguin, a keen amateur fencer, walked into the street with his luggage and his sword, the authors believe. Van Gogh pursued him. Gauguin brandished the sword in his friend’s face to keep him at bay and accidentally cut off part of his ear. Van Gogh then staggered to Rachel’s house and handed her the severed part.”

What a gentleman – I’m sure Rachel was simply ecstatic.  Sure beats the hell out of flowers…

The incident makes you wonder about the mystery surrounding Van Gogh’s madness.  The relation between creative genius and madness has a crazy mythology as well – check out my post yesterday ‘Labor Pains of Dancing Stars’ for a link to an article about this.  Or, just go to aldaily.com for the link.  Or, go straight to The Independent.  Or, do none of the above and take me at my word.

P.S. if you go to WilcoWorld.net you can check out pretty much their full discography.


~ by garcialoca on May 6, 2009.

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