Unreal Nature

December 5, 2016

Displacing Himself

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:13 am

“… I displace myself completely and with my Faber Number 2 pencil …”

Continuing through Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City: Nietzsche, Modernism, Paris by Ara H. Merjian (2014):

… “Measure,” Nietzsche writes in mocking paraphrase of modern creators, “is alien to us.” Against petit bourgeois caprice and the sham transcendence of Wagner, he champions “phases of asceticism [as] the means of damming them up.” His own writing increasingly bears out that asceticism in literal terms. A retreat into the aphorism — epigrammatic slabs of writing bounded by wide margins — formed a piece with his voluntary submission to the liberating finitude of consciousness, of language, of “perspective.”

[line break added] Abrupt, oracular, and anti-dialectical, Heraclitus’s aphorisms epitomized the “regal possession” of pre-Socratic insight. The concision of the aphorism — perhaps the closest verbal approximation of silence — bore for Nietzsche the salutary confines of bounded space.

dechirico_enigma_ofday
The Enigma of a Day, 1914

… The Nietzschean “will to stand alone” obtains even in those Metaphysical images without statues or architectural monuments. Glasses and iron artichokes serve just as well. Exclusive of thematics or geography, de Chirico’s images increasingly isolate things — even those set in shallow spaces — as if “seen from the heights and in the sense of a great economy.”

… Three decades after his first Parisian sojourn, settled in Rome amid the accoutrements of a pedantic craft, de Chirico deflected (aside from the occasional self-serving salvo) alignment with any common cause:

The artist is granted a special permission as far as ‘displacing’ himself … . From point A, which represents the known world, and from point B, which represents the unknown world, and from the reciprocal exchange of good and evil (but more evil than good) that flows between these two points, I displace myself completely and with my Faber Number 2 pencil and pocket knife, my Elefante brand eraser and my drawing pad, I ensconce myself at a third point, C. From this secure strip of ‘relativity’ I delight in the pleasures of the observer, the spectator, and the creator.

The Anguishing Morning and The Enigma of a Day prove most Nietzschean in the practical ambivalence of their spaces: emulative of the dialectical frisson between unrelated objects, but deferential to the limits of representation, and all the syntactical and social hierarchy such limits afford. “Above all, even contrary capacities had to be kept from disturbing, destroying one another. An order of rank among these capacities; distance; the art of separating without setting against one another.”

dechirico_anquishingmorning
The Anguishing Morning, 1912

My most recent previous post from Merjian’s book is here.

-Julie

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