Monday, July 25, 2005

Young person, go Billmon

I have not yet found energy to figure out how to add links to the page as I have to insert them manually, it seems, in to the HTML code. In any case the Whiskey Bar confirms to my understanding of political debate: very sharp, but still analytical, dealing with structures and not with the surface foam, and on the side of the angels. Alarming is the only word to describe current US politics with this semi-criminal administration in charge of the only superpower still drunk with hubris in its moment of near monopoly on power politics. (On second thoughts, lose the "semi" from the previous sentence.) Strange how things change: we are all politicized now....

Saturday, July 16, 2005

To have no boundaries

For some reason the word esthetic looks incomplete and silly and the word aesthetic somewhat pompous and silly. Go figure: no language is perfect.

Anyway, my aesthetic vision of writing is to have no boundaries in language, no genres. I would have wanted to include into my master's thesis on the first Home Rule crisis (or rather on high political rhetoric during it) sections of "pure" fiction - not that the boundary between fiction and non-fiction would be in any case very clear, especially with historical writing and research. This is probably an over intellectual attitude but to me all writing, all thinking is speculation about our experience in the world: we don't describe, we speculate even when describing. And to have it in freely flowing, beautiful, rhythmical language - to have no boundaries, no "natural" structures.

So, in effect, I don't believe in pure fiction, and would not want to write it myself. (These highly theoretical musing probably well describe why I never ended up as a writer: you need to be more instinctive, more viscerally in touch with language, with experience.) This is not to deny a certain distinction between the perceived reality and purely fictional accounts, but you can only attempt to reach this perceived reality through speculation and exploration whether it then has the form of fiction or non-fiction. So, no genres for me, no boundaries in language. There exist none naturally, nothing is naturally, self-evidently fixed in language. I think this is why we are only partially at present even in directly autobiographical text: why this text also is only one dimension of many in myself, and purely in itself misleading: we can only speculate about ourselves, we can only attempt to reach ourselves - the personality is never there in the very moment, never constant, never whole.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Thoughts on Haapsalu

I was impressed, surprised: a trip to Astrid Lindgren land. I wondered would it just be comfortable nostalgia for the (mostly) bad old times, but at heart I think it really was aesthetic appreciation, an aesthetic experience. Silence, the summer around us: sleepy streets out of another time or from imagination, Astrid Lindgren streets. Such satisfaction for eyes, for ears, an appropriate rhythm of life - even if only in imagination. Not hysterically clean, self-satisfied Sweden but wounded, imperfect Estonia, probably the most suffered modern nation along with its Baltic cousins, even Russia itself does not begin to compare. Strange experiences history hands out to us, strange music, but amid rebuilding, along quiet sunny streets I enjoyed myself.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sailing towards Byzantium

"Once out of nature, I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make"

Maybe I say something controversial here, something overly romantic: but as far as art is concerned I think we are always sailing towards Byzantium and are out of nature with such forms as Grecian goldsmiths make... This is an aesthetic view or an oldfashioned view of aesthetics: art as beauty and art as otherhood. What we are in "real life" is something different - art is not a mirror. For me the interesting thing, the aesthetic thing (also) is this conflict between experience and art, in that sense I want to reach beyond it, beyond art. (I wonder if this formulation makes any sense.)

Of course, I wanted to talk about Yeats here, but reading those lines for the quotation, that poem, brought very naturally, self-evidently back these thoughts. If you speak about Yeats, you speak about art - he is the quintensessial artist, craftsman. In many ways especially his later poetry exemplifies my thinking of art, of the beauty of art and also its conflicts. Yeats is almost beyond comparison in his language and skill. Maybe Wallace Stevens and T.S.Eliot can reach where he reaches. But such follies! Such idiocies: his "thinking" was silly beyond words, his experience so far from his poetic mythologization of it. Yeats is I think a good illustration of Plato's well known disdain of literature, his follies are the follies of an artist, or of art. But this said: who reaches further, Plato or Yeats? What can philosophy do without art, what can it be without art? My answer would be: very, very little. Maybe art in itself is not enough, but without it we would barely be alive, barely be human.

But this is the last day of a week's holiday for me, have to go through my emails, to prepare for the dreary Monday morning. Maybe more of Yeats later, but these words to end the post, the beauty and the folly of art:

"I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind,
In balance with this life, this death."