membrane – 2/20/14

Looking at Adrienne Rich’s great (short!) essay Permeable Membrane in class…

 

There’s a permeable membrane between art and society. A continuous dialectical motion. Tides brining the estuary. River flowing into sea. A writer describes the landmass-“stained” current of the Congo River as discernible three hundred miles out on the ocean. Likewise: the matter of art enters the bloodstream of social energy. Call and response. The empathetic imagination can transform, but we can’t identify precise loci of transformation, can’t track or quantify the moments. Nor say how or when they lead, through innumerable unpredictable passageways, toward recreating survival, undermining illegitimate power and its cruelties.

 

Is poetry, should it be, ‘political’? The question, for me, evaporates once it’s acknowledged that poetic imagination or intuition is never merely unto-itself, free-floating, or self-enclosed. It’s radical, meaning, root-tangled in the grit of human arrangements and relationships: how we are with each other… The makings of art are rooted in non-art labors—repetitive, toxic, body-breaking, minimum wage or less or none—that everywhere underlie those privileged creations.

 

What is seeing you. Eyes in the thicket, eyes in the street. I need to reach beyond my interior decoration, biography. Art is a way of melting out through one’s own skin. ‘What, who is this about?’ is not the essential question. A poem is not about; it is out of and to. Passionate language in movement.

 

The makings of art are rooted in non-art labors—repetitive, toxic, body-breaking, minimum wage or less or none—that everywhere underlie those privileged creations.

 

[Theater as the “seeing place” is as much about the art seeing the audience as the audience seeing the art?]

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