Unreal Nature

December 20, 2014

Our Obscure and Unenlightened Heart

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:45 am

… this thing surrounded by the afternoon and occupied with itself, like all things — because we cannot pull any of this with us into our uncertainty, into our danger, into our obscure and unenlightened heart …

This is from The Poet’s Guide to Life: The Wisdom of Rilke edited and translated by Ulrich Baer (2005):

… The final and most profound element of which the great objects of art have been made exists in all of nature; it grows with every field, every skylark knows of it, and nothing else but it forces the trees into full bloom. Yet in nature it is concealed (while in objects of art it is held up in a breathless silence — like a monstrance); it is scattered about and nearly lost (while art objects contain it: gathered, recovered, preserved forever).

… We play with dark forces that cannot be captured with the names we give them, like children playing with fire, and it seems for a moment as if all energy had rested dormant in all objects until now, until we arrived to apply it to our fleeting life and its requirements. But, again and again throughout millennia, those forces shake off their names and rise like an oppressed class against their little masters, or not even against them — they simply rise and the various cultures slide off the shoulders of the earth, which is once again great and expansive and alone with its oceans, trees, and stars.

… Childhood is like a land entirely independent of everything. The only land where kings exist. [ … ] There was a period when each thing seemed to be the only one, when every single one could become one’s fate: a bird that flew in the night and now was sitting, dark and serious, in my favorite tree; a summer rain that transformed the garden so that all of its greenery seemed glazed with darkness and gleam; a book where a flower had been placed among the leaves, god knows by whom; a pebble of strange, interpretable shape: all of this was as if one knew much more of it than the grown-ups. It seems as if with each thing one could become happy and big but also as if one could perish on each thing …

… Places, landscapes, animals, things: in reality all of this knows nothing of us — we pass through it the way an image passes through a mirror. We pass through: this sums up our entire relation, and the world is shut off like an image; there is no place where we can enter. And yet this is why all of this is of such great help for us: the landscape, this tree leafed through by the wind, this thing surrounded by the afternoon and occupied with itself, like all things — because we cannot pull any of this with us into our uncertainty, into our danger, into our obscure and unenlightened heart, this is the reason why all of this helps us. Have you never noticed that this is the magic of art and its tremendous and heroic strength: that it mistakes us for this most alien dimension and transforms it into us and us into it, and that it shifts our suffering into things and reflects the unconscious and innocence of all things back into us out of rapidly turned mirrors?

-Julie

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