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Monday, July 30, 2007

bergman

They all die.

LI has described in an earlier post how watching a series on PBS that showed Ingmar Bergman’s films up until 1965 had an alchemical effect on us, charged us with a sense of how exotic, exciting and essential it is to struggle with life and death, a truth that was buried as deeply as possible beneath the grass and the fill and the junk and the clay atop which our little Atlanta suburb was built. But bury a truth as deep as you want to, it will creep up and get into your living room, your milk, your cubicle, your computer, your war, your taxes, your children and the one thing that can never ever happen in the world, your death.
In 1989, Bergman staged Mishima’s play, Madame de Sade. In one of the scenes, some lines by one of Gunnar Ekelof’s poems, Etudes, was framed on the wall. Here is the 3rd section.

Each person is a world, peopled
by blind creatures in dim revolt
against the I, the king, who rules them.
In each soul thousands of souls are imprisoned,
in each world thousands of worlds are hidden
and these blind and lower worlds
are real and living, though not full-born,
as truly as I am real. And we kings
and barons of the thousand potential creatures within us
are citizens ourselves, imprisoned
in some larger creature, whose ego and nature
we understand a little as our master
his master. From their death and their love
our own feelings have received a coloring.

As when a great liner passes by
far out below the horizon where the sea lies
so still at dusk. And we know nothing of it
until a swell reaches us on the shore,
first one, then one more, and then many
washing and breaking until it all goes back
as before. Yet it is all changed.
So we shadows are seized by a strange unrest
when something tells us that people have left,
that some of the possible creatures have gotten free.

Translation by Robert Bly.

15 comments:

### said...

I have been looking for the source for those lines FOREVER.

Hurrah!

roger said...

Well, numbertripled, I'm glad I quoted them. They are beautifully apropos, if I do say so myself.

northanger said...

Roger, translation please:

Toujours par quelque endroit fourbes se laissent prendre
Quiconque est loup agisse en loup:
C'est le plus certain de beaucoup

roger said...

North, you are reading La Fontaine this summer? How cool!

I tried to see if the Marianne Moore translation is to be found somewhere in googlespace. Alas, couldn't find the divine Ms. MM's translations. Myself, I'd translate it

The crook always leaves a tell
the wolf acts the wolf
that's the most certain of all.

Walter Thornbury translates it as:
There's always some mistake a rascal makes
The Wolf like Wolf must always act
That is a very certain fact.

Rascal is definitely a mistake, if you ask me. It waters down the quality of the fourbe, makes it jokey and all pantomime. But of course he gets the rhymes right, and I don't.

Interestingly, Norman Schapiro, in his translation, just gives it up entirely. What a bungler! Here's his ending:
Wherefore beware! Frauds hear my caveat/
let wolf be wolf; that's what he's ablest at!

Three lines being sucked into two is bad. And the hortatory tone comes entirely from Shapiro, who is relying here on a typically english children's book motif: the parent/teacher's turn to the reader with an exhortation that so often caps children's poems. But that didactic moment is far off from the cold, peasant stance in La Fontaine's lines. There's no ruler rapping there. La Fontaine's world doesn't have the patience for that anglosphere drivel that has resulted in our astonishing highway exit iconography of animals positively begging us to eat them - cute little pigs and chicken regarding their guts as presents for the gnashing human tooth and the acidic human stomach. In L's world, by contrast, eating and being eaten are not sentimentalized.

northanger said...

no, i'm reading a Mr. LI.

AQ 2250 = TOUJOURS PAR QUELQUE ENDROIT FOURBES SE LAISSENT PRENDRE. QUICONQUE EST LOUP AGISSE EN LOUP: C'EST LE PLUS CERTAIN DE BEAUCOUP = FIND IT AMAZING, CONSIDERING MAJORITY RULE THE FUNDAMENTAL CORNERSTONE OF DEMOCRACY, A MINORITY "SLITHER" CAN CAUSE SO MUCH TROUBLE = YOUR BUSINESS IN COLLECTING FACTS WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT, AND THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS PEOPLE CANNOT BE DESCRIBED WITH PEN, INK AND PAPER (Abigail Adams to John Adams, 05-Nov-1775).

roger said...

North! you clever woman you! caught me in my own traps and tricks, like the wolf in shepherd's clothing that I am. Drat - foiled again. Hey, but I have gotten better over the years, haven't I? I don't quote from French or German without translating. I made it a hard and fast rule. I .... I ... your honor, I were drinkin' at the time, and throw myself on the Merci of the court...

northanger said...

i always thought french best taught in the boudoir & german on the schlachtfeld. what do you think? anyway, Complete Poems, by Marianne Moore & (Dis)olving double irony.

northanger said...

from, The Animals Sick of the Plague

A wolf pronounced the verdict, to which he clung,
Convinced they had found the animal they must kill—
The battered rapscallion who had made the world ill.
He deserved to be hung as an example.
Eat another's grass! What could be more horrible.
        Death, only death was suitable
For the criminal—inflicted at once by spite.
And so, as you are weak or are invincible,
The court says white is black or that black crimes are white.

roger said...

North, I'll add my own little pome to match the mood of the wolf:

The barnyard world is full of woe
its meat they crave, and dog is fierce
to bark the line you cannot go
beyond, let hunger pierce

you as it will, or thirst.
Skin, ribs, yellow fat and bone
fucked and fed until you burst
on the destined hook you’ll spin alone

shifted as the breeze blows.
So don’t get in there. Although – wait!
you’ve taken their feed. So it goes
for every beast there is a bait.


- R. Gathman, esquire

northanger said...

Tillman hearing @ House Oversight Committee today (01-August)

AQ 141 = FRAGGING = PATRICK.

AQ 548 = BULLET HOLES WERE TIGHT AND NEAT = THEY BLEW UP THEIR POSTER BOY.

AQ 1600 = THE DOCUMENT PRODUCTION FROM THE WHITE HOUSE SHEDS VIRTUALLY NO LIGHT ON THESE MATTERS.

Amie said...

LI, they all die allright. Antonioni passed away the same day.

Eros: You ask for too much Thanatos.
(C.Pavese)

roger said...

Amie, I'd love it if you could comment a little more about Antonioni. I don't have that contact with his work, although of course I still remember the first time I saw L'avventura. What I don't understand in Antonioni is the drift. I don't understand what his structures are tending towards. I feel like they are being pulled, but ... I'm not sure what they are being pulled by.

amie said...

LI, where is your earlier post on Bergman?
Here's a hommage from Cahiers
http://www.cahiersducinema.com/site.php3

roger said...

Amie, wow, I can't find that post. A phantom post, I guess, a flying dutchman of a post plying the dim seas of my memory (hey, I'm writing a review of the LofA publication of Kerouac's early novels, so this is how I am going to write for a while, until the juice turns off!). Perhaps I'm thinking of a part of a novel I once wrote. In fact, I'm pretty sure that is it.

amie said...

LI, too bad you can't find the Bergman bit! Maybe I could use a bit of the Kerouac juice to write about your question regarding Antonioni's drift, pull!Hmmm. I'm drawing a blank, but a poet might just have said it:

Dark things are drawn to brighter,
bodies thin away in a flowing
of colours, colours in musics.
So disappearance is the greatest adventure.
Montale, Portami il girasole…