Haibun after Kate Newby

Poets whose work open in silence; musicians who call silence the most perfect sound; painters whose images find their end in pure black or pure white – the white noise of nothingness accompanies my path. The attempt to banish expression has become downright suicidal. Was it da Vinci who first said he wanted to capture “nothingness”? Now we remember Da Vinci and experiments of the Renaissance less than the zero hours of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both the end and the beginning in the devouring light of atomic bombs.

The story of silence, of nothingness, seemed to have been exhausted at the end of the last century, only to resurface in stories of our current reality. I wonder, how can someone be a sculptor but renounce any visual appearance?

The vastness of this city is most visible. Man becomes very small as soon as he approaches the machinery of airports, highways, and subways. I think of this as I see a slope along Madison Avenue, perhaps a grassy hill a long time ago. Art has been unable to carry the weight of this city- despite the heroic efforts of its best artist; even monuments get lost here. 

The words and sounds form sculptures, sculptures that emerge from the rhythm of the spoken, whispered, shouted words, but also defined by my movements -walking, standing still, reversing, accelerating and slowing my pace. I am the only creature of this gallery . 

Here, the words are not an endless loop of despair, but of light-filled knowledge. And the source of knowledge is always the body, the material, and the field of experimentation. Inspiration can be a fountain or a well and I stand on its edge like a Singaporean Merlion. How one seeks to convey an enigmatic interpretation of the artistic life. Wittgenstein defines the “mystical” as all that is not meaningfully describable, that is, something transcendent. However, I hardly believe Nauman when he posited that one can make sense of the world through “the revelation of mystical truths”. Perhaps his thing is born of disappointment that people refuse to understand other people. Similar to Beckett’s protagonists, the beginning and end of suffering lies in the body. I notice how my thoughts are reduced to his voice. “You may not want to be here” mutates into “You may not want to hear”, but eventually to “You hear”. The -possibly- comforting moment does not last long, and the doubts start all over again. This perpetual motion crushes everything. The experience of language and time, of space and sound, commemorates nothing but a void. 

As I get home, I take a snapshot of this corner of my street that connects with Delancey, where nothing happens, except pedestrians scurrying through the picture, folded in the afternoon light. My impression isn’t complete without sounds that give this picture a spatial dimension – when a dog barks, or when the rattling of a train is heard, when a storm howls, when nothingness becomes tangible. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.