Thursday, June 28, 2007

Watchman, What Of The Night?


I am, for the third time, reading "Nightwood" by Djuna Barnes. I bought myself a first American edition of the book, and the size of the hardcover is a luxury in the hand.
In all the preparations for the upcoming show, i have little to say about painting. Suffice it to say this book remains a very significant influence on my work.
From the most unbelievable chapter of the book, in Paris as Dr. Matthew O'Connor gives his long monologue to the American Nora Flood on the night and loving Robin Vote:
"The French have made a detour of filthiness - Oh God the dirt! Whereas you are of a clean race, of a too eagerly washing people, and this leaves no road for you. The brawl of the Beast leaves a path for the Beast. You wash your brawl with every thought, with every gesture, with every conceivable emollient and savon and expect to find your way again. A Frenchman makes a navigable hour with a tuft of hair, a wrenched bretelle, a rumpled bed. The tear odf wine is still in his cup to catch back the quantity of its bereavement; his cantiques straddle two backs, night and day."(p. 107)*

And later, the doctor is speaking with Felix about his child with Robin, Guido:
"In the average person is the peculiar that has been scuttled, and in the peculiar the ordinary that has been sunk; people always fear what requires watching"(p. 151)*

*New Directions "New Classics", 1937 First Edition

3 comments:

JW Veldhoen said...

Incredibly beautiful. And though I have a deep distrust of beauty, I'll read "Nightwood," as soon as I can. It bears repeating, and that is so easy now, the work of a scribe is love:

"In the average person is the peculiar that has been scuttled, and in the peculiar the ordinary that has been sunk; people always fear what requires watching"(p. 151)*

Wil Murray said...

Only on the third reading, or in pulling bits out and placing them on their own here does the book appear at all beauty-filled.
The book's bursts are ugly and brutal, but they are made up of very pretty passages.
Every page full, but I am tempted still to call it sparse. You could just as likely describe a table as angry or daylight as aerodynamic; the book is full of just such things.

Wil Murray said...

But unlike me, Djuna spent a bit of time on her poetics.