Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Futility of Argument


Et quid amabo nisi quod aenigma est?("What shall I love if not the enigma?")
~ inscribed by Giorgio de Chirico on his self-portrait in 1911


The Futility of Argument


The light bent
as I drank it
from my
sieved sleeve
shadow draped  
behind the broken stump.

I stared at
the capsuling bananas
until the young owl
became bored.

Why is it
he asked
you see an enigma
where I see
a banana?

Why is it
I asked
I see the green soil
the purple wind
the tall blue shadow
that bisects the forest
day and death 
multiplicity 
singularity
the monkeys' dogfaced
upside down masks
dripping snarls and chatter
where you see
a banana?

I’m not convinced
by anything
a woman with no head
can see said he, 
revolving his small skull
like a turban vent as
he boarded the train

And I likewise
by no argument
advanced by a rationalist
talking owl.


August 2011




Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Today's host is Mark Kerstetter, and he is featuring the life and works of pre-Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico




Caveat: I'm always intrigued by and appreciative of surrealism, but I would never say it's anything in my normal style. I do my poor best at it here, however, if nothing else definitely experiencing 'the uncertainty of the poet.'  I've chosen to interpret the small brown figure next to the statue as an owl, though it may be a loaf of bread for all I know.




Image: The Uncertainty of the Poet, by Giorgio de Chirico, 1913, oil on canvas

 

38 comments:

  1. you had me from the first line...great...
    The light bent
    as I drank it
    from my
    sieved sleeve....wow - what a picture...
    then i was shaken between laughing out loud and standing in awe about the light-handed offered depth..

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  2. Thanks Claudia--I'm still tinkering with it. Glad you enjoyed. Quite a challenge for me, this one, but I'm having fun with it.

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  3. freud would have a field day with this picture and the characters you have spun from it...just saying...interesting the perspectives of the two...which speaks to surrealism itself...and even our writing is it more than a banana or is it just us hoping there is more to reality than what we see and bringing it to life in paint or verse...nice write hedge...

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  4. I think you did what you had to do - you made a virtue of your uncertainty, and a play out of the prompt. I really like this painting - and true, that mysterious object could be taken as an owl as easily as many other things. I really enjoy that you had fun with this - he sure knows how to compose a puzzle, doesn't he?

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  5. Thanks Mark I like the painting--all the De Chirico paintings I found, in fact--as well. the colors in this one are so suggestive--look at the shadow of the building--it's the same blend of colors, not grey or black--that they're almost ideas in themselves. You could go in a hundred directions from it.Thanks for enlivening my day with this trip into the wilds of the imagination.

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  6. I agree with those who've already comments, Joy Ann...and related to you and your response to surrealism. There is a lot to appreciate in this poem and I especially enjoyed the dialogue between the artist and viewer. And you raise questions for me about de Chirico's use of symbolism. He has a thing for bananas, I notice. Hmmm.

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  7. Very sensual surrealism in this poem Joy, I see a banana in a banana, other people see many different things! You had me like Claudia, from the first line, and the alliteration in the first stanza is divine!

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  8. may i just echo everyone above? i love the title, too. the first verse in particular is divine!

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  9. I echo all that's been said above x10 (at least) Love your take on the image, the words you have chosen to walk us through your thoughts with you. I could ponder all his works for eternity and a day, and in the final hours...change my mind!

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  10. I pulled up the picture and pasted your poem on a notepad. I found every reference in the poem there. Yet your usages all fresh, beyond the surreal, out of imagination, light blasted, singular, another crate of genius baked in sunlight. I never read your work without praising your originality and careful crafting. Always excellent, my friend!

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  11. I also love your originality! A great write to the painting..I enjoyed the read very much.. :)

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  12. Hi Hedge

    I think that you have got the tone of this poem spot on considering your cavaet.

    For me there is nothing more important than mining and digging other inspiring (abstract) thoughts and works in order to provide our own imaginings - which you have done here perfectly.

    Prompted by this mystery you have skillfully imposed an intriging narrative once removed with some brilliant touches.
    In deciphering a cipher you have brought us a new tale of weird wonder.

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  13. Why is it
    I asked
    I see the green soil
    the purple wind
    the tall blue shadow
    that bisects the forest
    day and death
    multiplicity
    singularity
    the monkeys' dogfaced
    upside down masks
    dripping snarls and chatter
    where you see
    a banana?

    Well worth the price of admission! If only all of us were as willing to enter into a dialogue with a young owl and a headless woman. Imagine what we'd learn. Love it!

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  14. Indeed, perception and reality are different to everyone...

    Like how you took this picture to a conversational confessional..

    Lovely as always ~

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  15. How fun that you chose to tackle this one. I saw it and immediately decided to pass, lol... I like how Tom described your piece best, "a new tale of weird wonder" - that describes what you've done here perfectly. Enjoyed this :)

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  16. My, my, such an arabesque piece, and curious assortment of images at that! The magic and mystery of this one captivates - a fun little play, in a way that leaves the reader (me!) going back through and plumbing it for all its secrets. Lovely!

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  17. The poem justifies the title. Brilliant.

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  18. Thanks all.

    @Tom: I'm glad you enjoyed my tale of the weird. I'm afraid it's a very direct one drawn straight from the images given, assuming that's an owl.Looking again it may be the banana stem, in which case, I need to brush up on my Freudian analysis. (Any surreal quality is accidental, and probably related to genetic brain issues.)

    @Anna: You mean..others aren't??? ;-)Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed.

    @Chris--very good to see you passing through. I miss your photographic inspirations. Guess I could have used that one you posted on twitter the other day--but then we'd be back to the whole bananas/Freud thing.

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  19. Owl of Athena sees the world as it is, bur Venus broken still looks for love - nice take on the painting

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  20. Ditto on the surrealist argument. It was fashionable in its time, usually the kiss of death for art. But critiques of art are useless arguments, as you say, infinite depth versus eternal breadth ("tastes great" vs "less filling") -- whose the Arbiter, anyway? Besides, as I once heard someone say -- and it is about the best marital advice I've ever heard -- "the advantages of being right are vastly overrated." To me -- and in my reading of your poem, too -- there is a flatness to the surrealist image, sight transfixed without meaning, ichoate as a dream ... The poetic images goes through dozens of dimensions without haste or stopping. Poets versus painters, whattayagonnado? (Anna Montgomery will surely take achoo, I mean, issue ...) Personally, I'm with all the bananas lined up for a peek at Mystery fresh from the bath -- ripens this soul ... B

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  21. bananas and enigmas --- strange partners

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  22. @John: I like that interpretation.

    @B: I do actually like these paintings, though I can see why perhaps the painter decided to move on, as they seem very steeped in both the 'fashion' aspect and also the angst and hard to sustain enthusiasm of the young artist who plunges into a movement. I'm too much of a classical-representational mindset to find surrealism a natural fit, also, but I enjoy looking at it like an exotic animal in the zoo. De Chirico's work, pre-Surreal per se as it is, seems to have a lot more to do with the language of color, which helps for me.

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  23. Fascinating dialogue, enacted in a masterfully composed surrealist space. Among the brilliant images, I especially enjoyed this one:

    revolving his small skull
    like a turban vent


    Well done!

    David

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  24. Thanks for reading, David. If you feel I got somewhere surreal with it, then my work here is done. ;-)

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  25. Hedge, I so enjoyed the debate. Isn't it odd how sometimes we are the owl where at other times we are obviously the headless woman. So many layers and intricacies to this piece.

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  26. the owl just saw the banana that was his reality ~ but unpeeling the yellow skin there was so much more that what this rationalist had us first believe ~ the very core of existence was tugging at the sleeve ~ 'the green soil
    the purple wind'
    the tall blue shadow'
    that bisects the forest'
    the monkeys' dogfaced
    upside down masks' ~ twists and juxtaposes
    ~ *smiled*
    'I’m not convinced
    by anything
    a woman with no head
    can see said he' ~ deliciously scintillating dialogue and as always brilliant in it's originality Bravo!!! *applause* Joy ~
    thankyou too for your words ~ Lib x

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  27. This is freaking hilarious! One hundred years from now poor college students will be forced to write torturous essays interpreting the mouthy owl. I love it!

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  28. One *does* wonder how a headless woman can see anything.

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  29. Really fun piece. Absolutely love the way you handled this, totally reminded me of old lesser known fables/myths. A great tone you carried through, really enjoyed the uniqueness in dialogue patterns as well, so, so well-done:)

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  30. I enjoyed this, you really speak to the image in such a creative and clever way. Wonderful write! ~ Rose

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  31. oh, i love the humor and just the whole conversation between the two. entertaining and thought provoking. the last stanza made me lol :)

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  33. *typo*
    Joy, a wonderful interpretation of the painting. I believe that is an owl at the foot of the statue.

    Pamela
    btw I hope you are staying cool in the horrible heat where you are.

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  34. Thank you Pamela. I have been indoors avoiding triple digits for so long I feel like I'm on a space station--and even they get to go outside occasionally. ;-)I hope it's pleasant south of the border where you are also.

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  35. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this poem. For me it had something of the quality of nursery rhyme - though admittedly a very cerebral nursery rhyme. Wonderful.

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  36. Thanks, Dave. I had a lot of fun with this, and I do think I came out of it with a far better sense of surrealism, as well, from reading Mark's comments and the other links, so all in all, a great experience.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg