Sunday, August 13, 2006

Darfurian Rebel Leader

I was born under a tree.
I live under a tree.
I am fighting from behind a tree.


I will never compose anything quite like this. For a man who hasn't cried since his pre-teen years, this almost got me. I remember it. I had exited the hospital four days earlier, shouldn't have driven down there, shouldn't have walked, clung to guard rails, blessed my disability permit, swam in clothes too large for my emaciated form. I had planned it. It was something I could point to and say, there, I helped there. I said I wouldn't go, I swore I couldn't. That trip put my recovery back a week. I passed out for a day after that. Oh God it was worth it. Oh God I hated it.

He had one eye. He wore sunglasses. He took them off once to wipe sweat. The sand was blowing. Bombers whined overhead, returning from burned villages. And when we ran to the tree to hide he said it. In the back of the auditorium I couldn't breathe. I blacked out. I was crushed. It was the words, the man, the village he ran from - it was a symphony. Mozart's Requiem knocks me out every time I hear it. This killed me. This was my salvation.

I like poets and poems I can hear. Reading some of my favorites I have composed their voices in my head, I imagine they would stop just where I do, I imagine them sitting on their front porch reading from a beat up Moleskine. Others I have heard - others I know. Their voices conjured up by mere mention. I hear them reading their poems. Both of these I like.

I once thought painting was the least of the arts. Using only one sense is boring. I want to be assaulted. Inundate me. That is where mastery is, breeding one sense into the others. Mastery is the smell Van Gogh's cypress trees, the feel of Venus di Milo's skin, the taste of O'Keefe's milk. True genius is conjuring the second iteration of senses: emotion. Goya makes me want to scream. Chagall makes me want to start a revolution. Da Vinci makes me want to study everything all at once for about five minutes. It is hard to call up senses with just pigment and binder, but even harder to call up actions, emotions. The artwork is the whole. It is not the paint on the canvas. It is not even the philosophy behind it. It is broken. It is the wall. It is the time of day. It is the light. It is the biography. It is the history. It is most of all me.

Art too often forsakes the surround. That which is not the specific piece. Photography has drawn the surround back into the art world. Are installations and architecture the purest forms of art then? No. All forms are equal. Including words. It is just as hard with words. But every so often a single span of time and a set of words, of brush strokes, of walls and windows come together to slay.


I was born under a tree.
I live under a tree.
I am fighting from behind a tree.





(Quote from Darfur Diaries.)

1 comment:

Sheryl said...

Wow!!!!