Monday, November 16, 2009

arrivée de toujours, qui t'en iras partout

from here
One of my heroes - no, one of my kin is the French poet/anti-poet Arthur Rimbaud. I say kin because he would have hated being a hero. I discovered him when I was about 12, absolutely friendless in highschool, and devoured his Saison d'Enfer. He joined other French loves of mine - Alexandre Dumas and his d'Artangan, Victor Hugo and Quasimodo, Dumal, Foucault, Francoise Sagan, and the Americans in Paris - Fitzgerald, Stein, Hemingway. It's possible that I should have spent more of my teenage years outside instead of reading. When we (by we I mean me, my books and occasionally my friend Jason) used to smoke too much and drink even more, Rimbaud was always on my mind, as a sort of decadent god who watched us, both dearly and depreciatingly.

It wasn''t until I was in Paris last year that I got my hands on a biography of Rimbaud, by Graham Robb. I devoured this book by the Seine, and then again on various trains. It wasn't that Rimbaud was a shining light, but rather that he was so very clever, so very cunning and so very orchestrated. Rimbaud constructed himself, deconstructed and reconstructed in ways that weren't very common back in the 1800s. He wanted to be a celebrity, a god. He wanted adventure. His poems are the beginnings of punk rock, a reaction against the mathematics of poetry - but they are also an exploitation of the same.

The feverish anger in Saison d'Enfer is tempered by the beauty of Illuminations, the music in Drunken Boat, the depravity in First Communion. There's godlessness, there's sunlit mornings. Often excused as the squealing brat of French poetry, Rimbaud's lyricism is something very special.

And that he stopped writing completely at 21, became a traveler, a trader, an explorer in Africa, makes me feel slightly more hopeful about days when the words don't come out right.

from Illuminations:

To A Version Of Reason

One tap of your finger on the drum releases every timbre
and founds the new harmony.
You take a step and new men materialize; they march out.
You turn your head away: the new love! You turn back: the
new love!
'Alter our destiny' you hear the children sing. 'Stamp out
plagues! Stamp out Time, for a start!' Everyone begs you: 'Raise
the substance of our fortunes, our desires, wherever you can.'
You - fresh out of forever. Making for everywhere.

i needed cheering up this monday morning, so excuse the entirely wanky self induglence of this post.

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