Tuesday, 16 February 2010

if you dont go within you go without

Lets start with a track 'Yulunga' (Spirit Dance) by a band called Dead Can Dance, from their album: Toward the Within.

I find this song beautiful and haunting, even though I do not understand the lyrics. I think that it is the 'otherness' and mystery of the piece that I am enchanted by.

Reading this week - a passage from The Art of the Novel by Kundera came to my attention; 
'The world of one single Truth and the relative, ambiguous world of the novel are moulded on entirely different substances. Totalitarian Truth excludes relativity, doubt, questioning; it can never accommodate what I would call the spirit of the novel'.

This reminded me of a chapter from Margaret Atwood's book Negotiating with the Dead, in the chapter Atwood comments on a passage from George Orwell's novel 1984 (the ultimate text on totalitarianism), where protagonist Winston Smith buys a 'forbidden' blank notebook from a junk shop 'He has been seized by the desire to posses this book, despite the dangers that owning it would entail. who among writers has not been overcome by a similar desire?'.

In his famous essay 'Why I Write' Orwell himself states 'under a kind of compulsion from outside' as one of the reasons why he wrote at all. Contemplating this strand of thought, how art is produced as a compulsive, reflexive, subjective exercise, I remembered a poem that I believe sums up that creative transcendental quality of the human spirit;

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me down with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a suprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou.

Here is a textual intervention on this poem by Ben Harper,

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