Post #1040 • August 27, 2007, 9:31 AM • 1 Comment
Rilke, from his letters:
I'm sure you remember... in the The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, the place that deals iwth Baudelaire and his poem: "Carrion." I was thinking that without this poem, the whole trend toward plainspoken fact which we now seem to recognize in Cézanne could not have started; first it had to be there in all its inexorability. First, artistic perception had to overcome itself to the point of realizing that even something horrible, something that seems no more than disgusting, is, and shares the truth of its being with everything else that exists. Just as the creative artist is not allowed to choose, neither is he permitted to turn his back on anything; a single refusal, and he is cast out of the state of grace and becomes sinful all the way through. Flaubert, in retelling the legend of Saint-Julien-l'hospitalier with such discretion and care, gave me this simple believability in the midst of the miraculous, because the artist in him participated in the saint's decisions, and gave them his happy consent and applause. This lying-down-with-the-leper and sharing all one's own warmth with him, including the heart warmth of nights of love: this must at some time have been part of an artist's existence, as a self-overcoming on the way to his new bliss. You can imagine how affected I was when I read that even in his last years, Cézanne had memorized this entire poem - Baudelaire's Charogne - and recited it word for word. Surely one could find examples among his earlier works where he mightily surpassed himself to achieve the utmost capacity for love. Behind this devotion, in small ways at first, lies the beginning of holiness: the simple life of a love that endured; that, without ever boasting of it, approaches everything, unaccompanied, inconspicuous, wordless. One's real work, the abundance of tasks, begins, all of it, behind this enduring, and whoever has not been able to come this far may well meet the Virgin Mary in Heaven, and certain saints and minor prophets as well, and King Saul and Charles le Téméraire-: but as for Hokusai and Lionardo, Li Tai Pe and Villon, Verhaeren, Rodin, Cézanne - of these, not to mention the good Lord, all he will ever learn, even there, is hearsay.