Half Lit

Posted on January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

“There comes a point in the creative course of every great artist or
poet, when the image of beauty which, up to that moment, he had pursued
in a seemingly continuous upward movement, suddenly reverses direction
and becomes visible vertically, in its fall. It is the movement that
Holderlin defined, in the notes to his translation of Sophocles, as
‘caesura’ or ‘’anti-rhythmic interruption’: when the word, as if checked
in mid-flight, for a moment reveals not what it says, but its own nature
… that untitled messianic moment in which art stays miraculously still,
almost astounded: fallen and risen in every instant.”

Bellezza che cade“, Giorgio Agamben
published on Cy Twombly, 8 Sculptures, Roma, American Academy, 1998,
p. 5.(Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find the whole Agamben article in English so it would be too forward to to comment on what is not there. But the tone of Agamben’s often work is often, superficially I think, is often looked upon with suspicion in America because of instants like the beautiful last two lines. For many, perhaps, there seems to be an unbearable proximity to a sort of Biblical hermeneutic; and then of course there is the formidable relation with other fields of humanistic discourse that is a bit overwhelming for American analytics.)

The quote is immediately striking because of the syncope that art ‘suffers’ in pursuit of beauty, a fainting away from what many would see as the true vocation of art into a mysterious stillness, perhaps even silence and accompanying inaccessibity of a sort. But what sort is it? It is as if the art work has been salvaged from its yoke to the human and has become simltaneously alive and dead, the portal of art made available to another side… if there were another side. Impossibly, it hangs there, tremulously, half lit, half in darkness.