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Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I don't know why I've been so cursory in my attention to the small (generally 3" x 4") books put out by Hanuman Books.  On the few occasions that I've read books from these series, I've felt nothing less than awe.  Like, the 1990 PICASSO by David Hockney -- it is magnificent. 

On Picasso, Hockney has a beautiful mind!  Here are two favorite excerpts from this 2.75" x 4" book:

If we saw a dark void between ourselves and the world we would not put a foot forward. Essentially Cubism breaks down that obstructing wall, it breaks the window. Cezanne's cafe table is brought right up to your waist. You are more present in the work and the work in you. Cubism is about our bodily presence in the world.  It's about the world, yes, but ultimately about where we are in it. It's about the kind of perception a human being can have in the midst of living.

And also:  

Why would perspective occur in fifteenth century Italy but not be used by the Chinese, by the Persians, by the Indians, who were all very observant about nature and yet never used one-point perspective? The main image that was needed in the fifteenth century by the power that be -- the Church -- was a picture of the crucifixion to show the suffering of Christ for mankind. The earlier way it was done, by Giotto in the chapel in Padua, was to show it in a sequence. You follow a story in pictures where Christ carries the cross up the hill, stumbles for the first time, etc. But a crucifixion is an unusual form of execution because it contains no action You are literally nailed to a flat surface and you die, theoretically, because you cannot move. It is a slow expiration where the moment of life/moment of death would not be clear. It is not like being beheaded or having an arrow shot through your heart. Thus, because there was no action involved there would have been a special interest in making the picture with one-point perspective, where time has stopped and space is fixed. The game of fixing space results in a kind of solidity of feeling in the body.

The photograph is the ultimate perspective picture. The viewer is outside the picture and there is a vanishing point, and the vanishing point can theoretically be called infinity. If the infinite were God, the viewer and the infinite could have no connection whatsoever, and never can have any connection, so I assume that is the God that died at the end of the nineteenth century. When you reverse perspective, which is what Picasso did with Cubism, the viewer can see all sides of an object, has movement in space, and is everywhere at the same time. Infinity is therefor everywhere, including within the viewer. That actually sounds better to me, theologically.

I'm a big fan of cubism, which was a major influence on my first U.S.-published book, REPRODUCTIONS OF THE EMPTY FLAGPOLE (many of the poems were later re-printed in my Selected Prose Poems collection, THE THORN ROSARY). My version of cubism for this collection of prose poems was writing poems where the paragraphs could be re-ordered than from the orders presented in the book.  Thus, I had to tinker with the language to make them sufficiently abstract so that they'd still generate sense in new orders.

So where shall we "shelve" then this lucid, visionary book?  Well, but of course: on the chair meant to hold ... light!

Anyway, I have two other Hanuman Books that soon shall join SitWithMoi's "Books on Chairs" collection.  I really should look for more ...

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