13 December 2005

What is art, now?

From Pembroke Magazine, Number 18, 1986: Gerald Bullis assays to paraphrase a segment of Tape for the Turn of the Year, a poem by A. R. Ammons:

my story is not a story—not a narrative of plot, of objective characterization, of theatrical incident—but an improvisatory meditation on how one accepts, or tries to accept, the death of the objective, heroic, guilt-accommodating universe. It is (in a way) a great story, at least in potentia, because it is the story we (meaning “I”) have to tell: that is, it is the only “story” I have to tell, so if it isn’t a great story I will, as if I were Sisyphus, suffer my lostness at home in the telling of it, more or less over and over again, alone; and if it is a great story, you may suffer it with me. It isn’t sequential because the apocalyptic universal stage (with a beginning, middle, and end) fell in. I am in the midst of the rotted shambles and, while I feel that I have a part (perhaps a major one), it isn’t in script, and there is no audience (which makes sense), and so I don’t know what to say, where to go. Yet I do feel that I should perform, if only for the weeds and other nonhuman flora and fauna, and that my performance should be undertaken with integrity and be truthful to some extent—it is impossible to say to what extent—to the ground of my beseeching, which is, all in all, pretty desolate. So my story stands still (yet: persistent) and stirs in itself (law of conservation of energy and matter: natural eurhythmy) like boiling water or hole of maggots. Sometimes when I’m not thinking the old nostalgias seem consistent with these natural miracles; but there isn’t much of that. The deus ex machina went the way of the stage. So what is there to do, to say? The objective stage—that grand mythic superstructure—is gone. Inner resolutions, countermotions, the dialectics of self (interiorized drama) remain: the means where by I may discover peace, may be brought home.

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