Unreal Nature

September 27, 2015

The Incognito of Everyday Noise

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:06 am

… it is the law of childishness to obliterate the consciousness that accepts what it ceases to condemn. Little by little poetic absence becomes absence of poetry, and this very absence loses all meaning …

This is from the essay ‘After Rimbaud‘ found in Faux Pas by Maurice Blanchot, translated by Charlotte Mandell (2001):

… Later, when the echoes of his glory seek to reach him in the confines of the world where he lives, far from being interested by this belated ray of light, he will demonstrate the surest scorn in indifference, and his “Merde pour la poésie” [Shit for poetry] expresses a judgment that reaches poetic truth as well as glory, and the totality of those who want to communicate through it. About the last Illuminations [Pierre] Arnoult writes: “The darkness did not understand his language.

[line break added to make this easier to read online] He was rejected, and his resentment stayed with him. There was nothing left but to dissumulate, to be silent.” At the time of the definitive silence he also attributes these words, which have the same meaning, to Rimbaud: “From now on I will keep my secrets. … It will be wonderful to be me, alone, witness to my glory and my reason.”

… The more he grasps the essence of what he is, the more he is threatened with losing it. He obeys night; he wants to be night himself, and at the same time he continues to assert, through language, his faithfulness to day.

… He who is above all others the poet whose poetry welcomes the inexpressible, he who gave language the assurance of not being limited to language, cannot content himself with this supreme conquest, and he rejects poetic silence while preferring to it the incognito of everyday noise.

Rimbaud’s fate has such a power of evocation because the matter-of-fact side of his life is no less mysterious than the poetic side. In one way he becomes a perfect Philistine, as Arnoult writes. He has renounced all the rebellion of his adolescence; he accepts the bourgeois ideal. He who wrote “I have a horror of all professions” is no more than a working man who earns a lot of money; he who expressed his dream, “To smoke everything, to drink strong liquors like boiling metal …,” is sober, greedy, hypocritical (“I drink nothing but water; at fifteen francs a month, everything is very expensive. I never smoke”).

[line break added] His regret is not to have a position; his ambition is to get married in Europe, have a son, make him an engineer. In this sense, by choosing banal silence, it is indeed the inauthentic life that he has chosen, that of action (“which is not life,” he said in the draft of Une saison, “but an instinctive way of spoiling an insatiety of life”). And yet it is obvious that private scandal, unrelenting misfortune, and who knows what horrible things followed him, veiling him forever from the brightness of day.

Rimbaud_in_Harar
Rimbaud selfie, Harar, 1883 [image from Wikipedia]

… The acceptance of the inauthentic gives him a superior authenticity, creates the only possible value; the acceptance of everyday talk places him above poetic silence. Still, it is the law of childishness to obliterate the consciousness that accepts what it ceases to condemn. Little by little poetic absence becomes absence of poetry, and this very absence loses all meaning, is no more than an anguishing torment, unknown, “without name.” After Rimbaud there is still Rimbaud, but a Rimbaud who must “die in harness,” who can no longer speak except to say: “What boredom! What fatigue! What sadness. … “

-Julie

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