Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Origins of Wednesday cvii: Motivated to meet

A new acquaintance is seldom undertaken
entirely on one's own terms. Those that
are, can still remain interesting, when
of one's point of view. I have been en-
joying screwball comedies from the '30s
and '40s again, which acknowledge anar-
chy less as a structuring principle and
more as a consequence of its resistance.

I could have been reading Euripides in-
stead, whose Bacchae is really not fun-
ny, but which acknowledges this paradox
pretty vividly. But now I have lost the
certainty of reach which depends upon a
life with one's books in an established
if quaintly disorderly location, having
moved house in the last quarter of 2019.

This inflicts a loss of fluency in con-
nectedness among influences on the mind
which I wouldn't wish on anyone. I deny
that it is refreshing, because connect-
edness comes first, propinquity second,
except if anarchy encounters resistance.

This glimpse of things was brought home
a learnèd mentor's stupefaction, that I
proposed to consider water for its link
between the cinema of Jean Vigo and the
movie, If.., by Lindsay Anderson, where
there isn't any. No, there is gymnastic
exercise, though, whose incidence marks
connectedness with mesmerising fluidity.

The screwball comedy exhibits instabil-
ity as the price of a compulsory order-
liness about as well as if dull reform,
itself, had kept my translations of the
Bacchae all in one place, instead of in
the general terrain of each translator.
A more desolate outlook for the mind is
no pleasure for me to imagine. Give one
the connectedness of dark with light, a
sense of procession without fences, but
of genial collaboration, such as we ex-
perience in Henry Miller's intuition to
travel to Greece by way of the Dordogne
to Marseille - a passage ordered freely
by expectancy, astonishment, and nature.

So I packed my valise and took the train for Rocamadour where I arrived early one morning about sun up, the moon still gleaming brightly. It was a stroke of genius on my part to make the tour of the Dordogne region before plunging into the bright and hoary world of Greece. Just to glimpse the black, mysterious river at Dômme from the beautiful bluff at the edge of the town is something to be grateful for all one's life. To me this river, this country, belong to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. It is not French, not Austrian, not European even: it is the country of enchantment which the poets have staked out . .

Henry Miller
The Colossus of Maroussi
New Directions, 1941©

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