Monday, October 27, 2008

Guernica, Norman Foster, Deleuze, Edward Gorey

the other day i was grading papers and listening to my itunes on shuffle when i was stopped by the last line of the poem (below) by norman rosten, read by joan baez on her album "baptism" (1968). it's representative of baez´s stark tragic ballads and anti-war songs. my purposes for sharing this depressing poem: to remember what our tax dollars are used for, to illuminate and learn from some historical connections between 1943 and 2008, maybe to add that election day is around the corner, and finally (it's kind of far out, but why not while i'm on the soapbox) to promote adoption.

Guernica by Norman Roster, 1943

In Guernica the dead children were laid out in order upon the sidewalk, in their white starched dressed, in their pitiful white dresses.

On their foreheads and breasts are the little holes where death came in as thunder, while they were playing their important summer games.

Do not weep for them, madre. They are gone forever, the little ones, straight to heaven to the saints, and God will fill the bullet holes with candy.

(Side note-- I often thought: What if Roster had included a description of the children before the bombs fell, one that depicted the children bickering about petty things, saying mean things, as children often do, maybe one boy hits another or spits on someone...etc. It would have been interesting to include that. Not so much because it would suggest that the children were being punished for their bickering, literally and excessively with the death penalty. Nor so much as to call our attention to the analogy between war and infantile disagreements, between our human tendency to spit bombs and saliva at those we dislike. But rather to complicate our conventional emotional response, to challenge our immediate cause-effect logic. As Deleuze would say: to scramble up our sensorial "intensities." Colebrook says that for Deleuze's, "It is the task of art to dislodge affects from their recognised and expected origins" (23) He generally attributes this to film, where "the usual sequence of images--our usually ordered world with its expected flow of events--and allow us to perceive affects with out the standard order and meaning" (39). The purpose of all this, I think, is to recognize the world's subjectivity and also to create a new and more open, tolerant, and less reductive way of thinking.

Edward Gorey wrote and illustrated a similar story, called "The Stupid Joke" (in Amphigorey Also), about a boy who stubbornly refuses to get out of bed (I don’t remember the reason) and then one night he's swallowed up by a monster that had been hiding under his bed (or something like that).

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