Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Henri Michaux, Tent Posts

Having another language, another landscape and relation of one word to another, a faint impenetrability even when you're fluent, just the edge that language ideally has, being language after all, not life. If it has no edge you know you're drowned.

For just such uncertain observations, Henri Michaux is the thing. One of a number of writers who have remained fresh and testing from day one.
Il faut un obstacle nouveau pour un savoir nouveau. Veille périodiquement à te susciter des obstacles, 
A new obstacle requires new knowledge. See about periodically stirring up obstacles,
In the Green Integer edition of Tent Posts (Poteaux d'angle) of a humid evening, I veer about in french and in english. I would translate it the other way around.
For new knowledge you need a new obstacle. Make sure you stir up obstacles on a regular basis,
Maybe they are one and the same. Between the french and the english I get the gist. Ezra Pound thought poetry should be gists and piths. If you periodically skate between languages, gists and piths are your country and you will get on well with Henri Michaux. And Heraclitus. Lucretius. Short paragraphs that begin and end at the same time. Not so much lapidary as pulmonary. The breath of our attention to our life.
La vie, aussi vite que tu l'utilises, s'écroule, s'en va, longue seulement à qui sait errer, paresser.
Life, as quickly as you use it, melts away, disappears, long only to someone who knows how to drift, loaf. 
You can read any paragraph of Michaux and, if you can take all that syntax, you move on wonderfully in your head. In brittle times you need to keep agile. People are axing people in trains, knifing people, battering and ramming people in their rage. You have to be very agile in your responses. There is no safe place, even when listening to Alfred Brendel play Beethoven, Opus 31 number 2.

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