Unreal Nature

December 21, 2016

Fragility and Tenderness

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:54 am

… this simple gesture of listening, this state of attention and expectation …

This is from the essay ‘There Is Nothing Old Under the Sun (2) ‘ 1988 found in The Complete Essays 1973-1991 by Luigi Ghirri (2016):

Roger Caillois, in the essay ‘From Fairy Tale to Science Fiction’ in his 1966 Anthology of the Fantastic, says that the fairy tale ‘is a universe of marvels which joins the real world without affecting it or destroying its coherence.’ Science fiction, by contrast, ‘reveals itself as a scandal, a rapture, an almost unbearable and unexpected bursting into the real world.’

[line break added] Moreover, apparition is the essential tool of science fiction; it is what cannot occur and yet is produced, at a point and a precise moment, in the heart of a perfectly probed universe, one from which mystery was believed to have been forever banished. It all seems to be like any other day: tranquil, banal, nothing unusual about it.

I believe that the idea of science fiction is well suited to my own notion of landscape; it is precisely within this mutation, this passage from the world of the fairy tale to that of science fiction, that we can explain the air of disquieting calm that infuses places and landscapes — which seem to be inhabited also by the mystery and the secrets they still possess — knowing in the end that what we are able to know, describe and represent is but through a small crack in the surface of things, of the landscapes we inhabit and experience.

The following is from ‘Images for Music’ 1989:

There’s a strange and mysterious relationship between sound and image which has always fascinated me. Perhaps my passion for music is based on this subtle and almost imperceptible link. Although it must be said, I’m not familiar with instruments or musical scores, and Adorno defines listeners like me as ‘horrendously passive.’

But I rather like this simple gesture of listening, this state of attention and expectation — which is not really so different from picking out a landscape from the continuum of the world, to chance upon or construct a gaze.

… In fact, many consider both [photograph and song] as cultural products which are far removed from high Art — because they are fragmentary forms akin to objects of consumption. Often, they are considered products of the culture industry, examples of media with global appeal.

But beyond these rhetorical definitions, I have always been attracted to the photograph and the song precisely because they are not considered ‘Art.’ Unlike titanic museum pieces, which seem doomed to sink, photographs and songs are great and altogether healthy forms of fragility and tenderness.

They have always seemed to me like moments of illumination — visionary flares that appear before us, and go on to become part of life.

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

-Julie

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