Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Malevich and me

At the Malevich exhibition half of me flies out of my body, leaves the Tate, London, and ends up, old, in a dark an sparsely furnished apartment in Genoa - an artist, finally, telling a story. My story, or my father's story, I am not sure. But something that seems to make a lot of sense. "However confusedly and meaninglessly our way may deviate from our desires, after all it does lead us inevitably to out invisible goal.", says Stefan Zweig in The World of Yesterday. Suddenly the tense muscles of exile relax and I feel the purpose, the continuity, the explanation for it all, for my journey, my suffering, my search. It's all very beautiful. Except for one thing. It's an impossibility. I cannot tell my story, or my father's story, or his father's story in a dark flat in Genoa. Because we are all dead. My ancestors, as they really are not here to influence or take part in the events, and I, because there is no "back" to go to. This is not how it's done. The only people I can talk to are the living or the not as yet living. While the only people I want to talk to, the only people I want validation from, are the dead. I want to be a Russian suprematist, yet think that the graph paper I am sketching on should be already tanned with age. It is, indeed, a senseless proposition. The game has to be played in a different way. But which? The past always makes more sense than the future. Anxiety flies out of the past. About ten years ago I was asked to translate Pirandello's Henry IV into English for Tom Stoppard. I read Pirandello as a kid, but found him claustrophobic. Something to do with his nose, while I had just discovered at the age of 12, that I had a nose between my eyes that blurred somewhat my vision. Pirandello came back many years later, this time in an apt text, because longing for home is often longing for our roots, in other words for the comfort of the past. "Whatever happens has happened, however painful the events and brutal the battles, they're history and nothing can change them... so you can sit back and admire how every cause leads obediently to its effect, with perfect logic...", says Henry IV. In the present, the past is safe, yet, when it was present it was uncomfortable and insecure and as illogical as the present is now. What we really want is logic, the logic that seems so clear when we look at the past - cause and effect - so linear. There is where home is, the comfortable place of logic. This whole exile thing feels more and more like Schrödinger's cat. I can only go home if I don't exist anymore. I can only go home if I am already there and have never left. But perhaps I should be grateful for that. The beauty of travel, the beauty of the present and the future is, ultimately, the lack of certainty. ZAUM = Beyond reason. ZAUM = Beyond logic. ZAUM. How peaceful Malevich's anxiety feels today.

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