Monday, March 12, 2007

"The past sure is tense"

Haven't listened to Capt. Beefheart in a decade or two, but then I stumbled on a 2 CD anthology, THE DUST BLOWS FORWARD, put it on and was blown backward into the present. The recent upheaval of the bookstore move also unearthed this old issue of Rolling Stone reproduced here.

Beefheart is a great American poet, and his delivery is often perfect.

Meanwhile, I'm responding here to a question by Kirby Olson from the Silliman blog comment line, just so I don't clog up that blog any more than necessary.

To wit:

Kirby Olson said...
Bill borneman, could you give more details from your memory on the ensuing conversation that took place? Who was there, and what was the general buzz?Ron's talk is so dense that delivered orally it must have been almost impossible to follow. I read it twice, slowing way the heck down and lingering over sentences, and still I don't think I understand it.What did people get from that night?

Kirby: I didn't get much out of either talk that night, but reading Ron's response today, I think he was right on. Yes, this stuff is dense. It takes a while to become acquainted with the form of discourse taking place, but today it seems pretty lucid to me. Silliman went a bit over the top with his urination metaphor, but then his point was that Baudrillard was completely awash in his metaphorical discourse while presenting it as philosophical writing. I think most people left the auditorium shaking their heads, wondering what they had witnessed.

Then Kirby says:
At any rate I wonder what people said in Montana in 1989. I take it most people were socialists? I've only been in Missoula once -- on a road tripp -- had a baked potato and a rainbow trout at a very good restaurant for 4.95 in about 1985.Hard to imagine many socialists in that place, but perhaps the university milieu was different. I thought that Montana was kind of Heideggerian at least in its philosophy department.
Bill: No, there were very few socialists in the audience. The guy who set up the whole presentation was in Missoula only very briefly and was something of an anomaly. The whole idea of bringing in Silliman as a respondent was unusual in itself and fairly subversive. And Eugene Chadbourne as the "entertainment?" It was all kind of crazy.
The two major philosophers to teach at Missoula are Henry Bugbee and Albert Borgmann. The latter is indeed a Heideggerian; the former a mystico-existentialist about whom I wrote an essay in the anthology WRITING MONTANA.
*
Finally, I'm wondering this. How can someone be both a surrealist and a Lutheran? I myself was raised as a Lutheran in a small farming community in northern Illinois. I lost my faith way early, when I was 12 or 14. Subsequently, I discovered Surrealism, along with any number of --isms, but it seems implausible to shelter one cranium under the two disparate umbrellas of Surrealism and Lutheranism. Initially, I thought you might be joking, but it seems you are completely sincere. How can this be?

10 Comments:

Blogger Kirby Olson said...

I don't know how I put them together. Lutheranism is probably the operative term. But Lutheranism lacks an aesthetics.

Think of Jesus walking on water, or making manna fall from the sky, or the love of the early Christian community right smack in the heart of Rome where St. Paul had gone to pull the beard of Nero.

The Christian experience is completely awash with surrealism.

I myself try to answer this question throughout my blog, and it still puzzles me.

Thanks so much for your kind answers.

3:24 PM  
Blogger WW said...

Jesus did not make manna fall from the sky, although he did turn water into wine.

To Bill Borneman,

I too was raised Lutheran. (now barely a Presbyterian) Somehow I stumbled across Kirby's blog. He had posted some hilarious caricatures of Lutherans that were right on.

I don't believe Lutheranism and Surrealism can co-exist, let alone be married and sharing a bed. But I am having a heck of a fun ride watching Kirby try!

WW

7:19 PM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

WW, I sit corrected on the manna business. That was Moses' bounty. Jesus did multiply loaves, and healed lepers and the blind and even in one case he brought a man back from the dead. In his youth there are apocryphal stories of him bringing a dead sparrow back to life, and possibly even bringing a boy back to life.

If surrealism's central term is the "marvelous," it would seem natural to grant the highest place to Jesus.

Most Lutherans lapse from about age 12 to whenever they have their own children. It's statistically probable. Have you had children, Bill? I too was lapsed until I had children, then wham, I felt drawn back to the church.

6:39 AM  
Blogger john hanson said...

i think if we take salvador dali as the premier proponent of surrealist doctrine
you'd have to accept a certain
gregariousness of spirit
even a palatable outlandishness
which i agree coincides with
the image cut by jesus
in the milieux of his time
and followed up by the apostles and swelling number of disciples
the gladiator and
lion entertainments ring of
a certain surrealism

one could indeed make a case for mainline orthodox christianity being quite at home with the most odd and curious elements of the christian narrative
a clsoe study of icons reveals some very wierd perceptions
on the part of the artists

but the subject matter as a whole
is ripe for outlandish presentation

dali had planned as actual
piece presenting that actual moment of christ's birth with all the emotion attending such an event
i don't think he got much beyond the sketches

but some of the nativity scenes do border on the surreal mind you
some of the german school especially
cranach

unless we include the overtly sensual aspects of human reality
faith is dry

man desires to be drunk
on wine on music on god
(one of those french poets...beaudelaire?...rimbaud?)

j

3:38 PM  
Blogger borneman said...

I have one son who was raised in a non-religious household. Perhaps 3 kids would have sent me back to the church.

I kind of wish he'd had the opportunity to experience small town congregational life, but it was not to be.

In the past coupld of years my wife, Patti, has become deeply involved in the local Unitarian Church and she loves it. Both for social and spiritual reasons--although, she gets a little uneasy if Jesus gets mentioned too much. She was raised by a fervent atheist!

*

I thought the ultimate Surrealist act was random gun fire in a crowd? Or the less spectacular marvel of an umbrella on an operating table?

I think the greatest achievement of Surrealism was Breton's poetry, followed by some paintings by Ernst and Picabia. Dali was way too Catholic.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

Early on Breton wrote that the most surreal act was to shoot at random into a crowd. He did grow older and grow up even to an extent but never officially reconciled with his Catholic upbringing.

I take the idea of the "marvelous" from Breton. I think instead of shooting a revolver at stranger, what could be more marvelous than to be neighborly, what more marvelous than to be decent?

What could be more shocking than to be kind to children and the outcast?

I have somewhat redefined surrealism taking some aspects of it, but grafting it on to the Lutheran ethos and finding that they fit together and suit one another. great problem with surrealism is that it lacked a clear ethical sense. The great problem with Lutheranism is that it lacks a clear aesthetic sense.

So Lutheran Surrealism is a mutual compliment or complement, or so I seem to feel.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

Early on Breton wrote that the most surreal act was to shoot at random into a crowd. He did grow older and grow up even to an extent but never officially reconciled with his Catholic upbringing.

I take the idea of the "marvelous" from Breton. I think instead of shooting a revolver at stranger, what could be more marvelous than to be neighborly, what more marvelous than to be decent?

What could be more shocking than to be kind to children and the outcast?

I have somewhat redefined surrealism taking some aspects of it, but grafting it on to the Lutheran ethos and finding that they fit together and suit one another.

10:06 AM  
Blogger john hanson said...

i don't know if you've ever looked closely at the spanish tradition of presenting the crucifixion in the most lurid and graphic style
highlighting for the viewer the torn flesh
the clotting blood
the sweat the dirt
this tendency to push for realism
does indeed blend into surrealism

breton did make the concept of distorted concepts a forceful stretch for anyone who would perceive

how can anyone be too catholic
that's like saying you're too irish
or too buddhist
which might only make sense if
one disregards the fact of change
if an american has become preoccupied with buddhism but stands no chance of ever really attempting to plumb the depths of zen from the cultural reality
that person could appear to be too buddhist

the more catholic one becomes the more at ease with all manner of life and creativity
or so i believe
joyce defined the church:
here comes everybody

here's a touch of catholic surrealism
i attended a st paddy's day party
yesterday
a half hour after i arrived i realized that
the priest who was throwing the party
had recorded about 30 different renditions of danny boy and they were playing one after the other
there were all these elderly catholic in attendance
who were of the feisty sixtes and seventies revolutionary bent
post vatican social rabble rousers if you sill
i ended up being castigated by one for being too papist
too traditional
she felt very at ease stating that the pope does not represent catholicism to her and she does just fine on her own
she worships now not in a catholic church but with an ecumenical prayer group
i had my guitar so they stopped the danny boy sequence
and had me play i only know two or three irish tunes
and then i played along as these old farts belted out my wild irish rose in two or three keys at once
thank god for jazz progressions

i took my lunch next too a sweet sweet benedictine nun who destroyed my ribald spirit instantaneously and i refrained from reacting to the whole mess with a bretonesque move

i lusted after a young hispanic woman
who devoured me with black eyes
and there was green all around

paint that

would that i had gotten real drunk

amen

10:20 AM  
Blogger john hanson said...

2nd st paddy's day party

i swore to god that if he could
convince me that indeed we were in a surreal french movie i would have accepted every tenet

every thing was cool at first
some chips some wine
some light conversation
gazing out over the desert valley

then this act shows up
a gyrating cowboy stripper
who promised to keep his boots on
and this sax playing side kick

it was high tech karaoke
and people watched it and they danced to it
and they clapped their hands
and i was convinced i was
on lsd for a moment

thank god for lazagna
i refused to dance
i was tempted to get very drunk
but then thought
hey i've been in stranger circumstances
what does one forgo when
forgoing dances

i was pleased to leave the premises
pleased to be on my own again in a lonely car
looking through tinted lenses
at the hyperbolic clouds
the same sort of sunlight


i used to say
it can't get wierd enough for me
ah the spirit of st paddy
has shown me that
a surrealistic pall has fallen
over the planet
and that's the way it goes

9:26 PM  
Blogger john hanson said...

captain beefheart
has soul

9:27 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home