Monday

Celan's Dark Road


A cup of tea and a Taoist reading followed by a poem or two start my days.  Yesterday's reading, in Robert Hass's annotated anthology, brought a poem by Paul Celan.

The early part of the day is a vulnerable time for me, especially to that level of pain and suffering,  but I read on once the page opened to him.  I thought it would be disrespectful to do otherwise so down his dark road I went. After the poignant and bitter reading I knew to hold close but at some point the ground opened up anyway.

I've been working the big cobalt and black boolas in the studio. I had been enthralled with them but suddenly I'm thinking that more importantly my dealer is not going to be.  Suddenly I'm thinking the works are truly an exercise in arrogance.  Suddenly I'm thinking how much longer can I afford this extended adolescence I seem hell bent to indulge? And the large figurative pieces I've made such a commitment to...big cry baby men holding birds?  Now I don't know if they are worth doing or not. I was so terribly sure of them until yesterday. Suddenly I'm asking why. The why no answer is ever going to be good enough for.

I did everything I could not to fall further, everything to regain a sweeter ground. I'm hip to the dark places. I know the landmarks well. The special music of it. The seemingly sudden lack of air. The grim sharpness of its edge. All the same,  I would not have the life I have without the darkness.  I have yet to see an art worth doing made with its lack. Powerful, this darkness.

The power of depression must be, in part anyway, in the simplicity of its answers.  The no rings like a bell, reverberating through every corner of the day.  The tossed coin becomes one sided.  And the yes, when it does show up, is in all the wrong places.

But it seems there is another darkness behind this one.  One that doesn't need to know why. One insisting on honoring the deep sorrows of the world.  Insisting on facing them.  Insisting on knowing their names, even on the brightest days. And once that honor is satisfied, then insists on joyfulness.

There is a bird singing the rough and raw song of early spring outside my window. I think I'll join him.