Friday, December 8, 2023

the last book I ever read (The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War, excerpt twelve)

from The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War by J. Alison Rosenblitt:

Cummings spent a lot of his time digesting the implications of the artistic world to which he had been exposed in Paris as well as assimilating the irruption of a new literary extravagance: James Joyce’s Ulysses. From 1918, Ulysses began to appear as a serial in the magazine The Little Review, and Cummings recognized an incipient masterpiece. His notes give an invaluable insight into his immediate and personal response, articulated before Ulysses became a work incapable of being approached without preconception. Cummings was spot-on. “Ulysses consists in the provocation by the trivial of the futile, the instigation of the actual by the real.”

Cummings sought to incorporate his response to Ulysses into his ongoing search for an aesthetics of art that would unify painting, sculpture, dance, literature, and music. He compared Ulysses to Petrushka and commented on Joyce’s “plastic” language (in the sense of sculpture as the “plastic” art). These unifying theories of art were still dominated by the obsession with Cézanne. Alluding to the common view that Cézanne’s painting had a sculptural quality, he wrote: “To comprehend Cézanne’s sculpture is to know that Cézanne is the first sculptor.” The Greeks may have sought “marble equivalents of man and woman.” But “Cézanne demonstrated that a given degree of depth demands a certain colour. Reverse (what is usually called) this plastic statement and you have the musical truth which is Colour. Colour with its appeal absolutely to the individual.”

No comments:

Post a Comment