online: 17 december 2004
modified: 16, 17, 28 december, 4 january 2005

12 december 2004 the first heave

16:04 After visiting an over-crowded exhibition (at the National Gallery, London) of the early work of Raphael (Sanzio):

I am far happier at this seat, between old and new galleries, looking down an alleyway towards the street outside, seeing life as it is, not distorted by crowd pressure (one could hardly see the exhibits) or by obedience to the exhibition guide (which told one, too beautifully and completely, how to think and look)..., in the slowly diminishing daylight, looking at the partly haphazard movements of people on the pavements below, i feel back in the world ...

As i enjoy this pause in an interesting day...

(but of course all days are interesting, as is any moment, as soon as one attends to its all-inclusive presence, the primary ingredient of life)

...and as I wake up to this moment, i recall another when (earlier today), confronted by several of Paul Cezanne's paintings, i experienced again, but more fully than before, the astonishing dissolving of half-recognised rocks (or could they be the walls and corners of houses and village streets?) into unrecognisable patches of colour, not bounded by drawn outlines, individual pieces of reality seen as part of the seeing process, cut off from the pressure of interpretation... i realised this as i looked, as i enjoyed Cezanne's construction of an openformed representation of the universe (if that's what it is) ... most simple, direct, and profound...

yes, this is it, early modernism at its best, achieving, in just a few most carefully arranged colours, the inclusion of the act of perception in the work... and thereby the undoing, at source, of all the distinctions of assigned meaning that underlie all worldly powers, good or evil, that shape, so mistakenly i think, the imposed life we inherit but no longer need suffer and obey.

...this freedom (a resisted threat to all we know as well as a gift of new life) coming from within the interaction of people and things...

And now, after that little but intense journey, from Raphael to Cezanne, to realities imposed or dismantled, i pause half-exhausted to eat a sandwich of smoked salmon and creamy soya ... and to drink some water.

Yes, yes, this is the great theme of our time (though it's presently concealed by misguided obedience to mistaken authority)... yes, this is the next thing to be done, the undoing of imposed social forms and the reinvention of modern living, half created by Cezanne and many others long ago ...

...'that was the first heave'* (as Ezra Pound said of getting rid of iambics)...

*I think 'the first heave' occurs somewhere in The Cantos of Ezra Pound (Faber and Faber, London 1954 and later editions). Its immediate result was to enable him to write in newer rhythms such as may be discerned in the quotation itself, if i can find it:
(to break the pentameter, that was the first heave)
Canto LXXX1, line 54.

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