Triptych



[White Heron - Soami - From the Freer Gallery]

[sometimes the interrelations present themselves]

Mallarme : ['Weary of Bitter Rest']

Weary of bitter rest where my failure to act
insults a fame for which I once fled from the dear
childhood of rose woods thriving under nature's sheer
blue, and still wearier seven times of my grim pact
to carve out nightly some new grave in the terrain
that lies penurious and cold within my brain,
a pitiless gravedigger of sterility --
what shall I tell the Dawn, as roses visit me,
O Dreams, when the immense cemetary imposes
unity on the void holes, fearing its livid roses? --
I want to leave the ravenous Art of cruel lands
and, smiling at the antiquated reprimands
cast at me by the past, genius, my every friend,
even my lamp -- although it knows my agonies --
to imitate the limpid-souled refined Chinese
who finds unalloyed rapture as he paints the end
of a flower on moon-ravished snow,
some unfamiliar flower whose scent he used to know
in childhood, and which still perfumes his crystalline
life, grafting itself on the soul's blue filigree.
And, because death is such, with the sole reverie
of the sage, I shall choose serenely to design
a youthful landscape idly on the cups again.
A slender line of azure blue, pale and precise,
would be a lake in skies of naked porcelain,
a lucid crescent lost behind white cloud proceeds
to steep its placid horn into the water's ice,
not far from three great emerald eyelashes, the reeds.

Valery: from Reflections on Art

Goncourt tells the story of a Japanese painter on a visit to Paris who gave a demonstration of his working methods for a few art lovers. After preparing his implements, he took a sponge and moistened his paper, which was stretched on a frame; then he tossed a drop of India ink on the wet paper. When the drop had spread, he rolled some newspaper into a ball and made a fire to dry the paper. When it was dry, he moistened it again, in another corner, and made a second spot, etc. He's a faker, said some of the onlookers. But when he had finished his drying and tossing of India ink, he went back to his taut paper and put in, here and there, two or three fine brush strokes. The work appeared: bird with bristling plumage. Not a single operation had gone amiss; the whole thing had been done with a meticulous order, proving that he had done it hundreds of times to achieve this miracle of skill. That man made the execution of a work of art itself a work of art. We can thus imagine a painter or sculptor working rhythmically, in a kind of dance. Execution after all is a kind of miming. If all the movements that went into a picture could be reconstituted, the picture could be explained as a series of co-ordinated acts; the same series could then be repeated or reproduced, and the artist would be comparable to an actor who plas the same role over and over.