Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beautiful - Schön - Dialectic

Thinking, still, about the word "schön" and about my sense that Peter wouldn't use the word the way I tend to use it.

It would shock me, for instance, if the actor in "Der Grosse Fall" looked at the church or the pissoir (they serve similar functions for him) and said "schön."

His admiration is rather for forms adequate to thought or forms that destroy thought and lead to running amok.

Michael writes that the word "schön" appears in this book. He's right. But the three times it appears also make my point, I think:

p. 64: "Den Marktwert her, bitte schön!" Out with the market value, please!

p. 74: "Was sie von sich sehen ließen, war nämlich nicht schön." What they revealed of themselves was, namely, not pretty.

p. 77: ". . . und wie sie sich dann bewegten, das war einfach nicht schön." And how they moved then, that was simply not pretty.

This implied beauty is almost like negative theology. You don't say what God is because that would limit God. You say only what God isn't.

Peter's not interested in Platonic beauty or in God. He is, however, interested in sneaking up obliquely on beauty and truth dialectically ("I am a dialectical writer," he claims), which means that before he reaches what he's approaching he swerves away with questions or with the claim that what is to be found is only absence (see the previous discussion) or with a "joke" (the Witz that in German is both funny and sharply rational).

My friend Alex Caldiero has a performance piece called "This Is Not It" that gets at this way of wrestling with truth and beauty and justice. Alex begins by saying "this is not it," repeats the statement, repeats it again and again, shifting rhythms and dynamics until the statement is so full of noise and swing that it becomes inarticulate, sounds that are so intimately tied to the body that all abstract meaning disappears until the sounds jerk back, suddenly, into the words "this is not it."

1 comment:

michael morrow said...

gads.....would be so nice to know something...I read your thoughts and observations....and ideas coagulate in me but you see my response...gibberish lends meaning for me