Arthur Cravan & Roberto Bolano: The Legs, the Spleen and the Fkkkkkkkng Liver

  February 2nd, 2009

Arthur Cravan
          [Arthur Cravan]

[...] “Let me say right at the start that in my opinion the first requirement for an artist is to know how to swim. I also feel that art, in the mysterious state corresponding to form in a wrestler, is situated more in the guts than in the brain, and that is why it exasperates me when, in the presence of a painting, I evoke the man and all I see is a head. Where are the legs, the spleen and the liver?

[...] “A bit of good advice: take a few pills and purge your spirit; do a lot of fucking or better still go into rigorous training: when the girth of your arm measures nineteen inches, you’ll at least be a brute, if you’re gifted. [...] Do me a favor and get rid of that dignity of yours! Go and run in the fields, gallop across the plains like a horse; jump rope, and when you’re six years old, you won’t know anything any more, and you’ll see mad things.”

         — Text by Arthur Cravan, from Exhibition at the Independents [1914], translated by Ralph Manheim


          [Roberto Bolaño]

“Listen: I don’t have anything against autobiographies, so long as the people writing them have penises that are at least a foot long when erect.”

         — Text by Roberto Bolaño, “Derivas de las pesada,” 2004, trans. Natasha Wimmer

“While we search for the antidote or the medicine to cure us, [...] we must continue to turn to sex, books, and travel, even knowing they will lead us into the abyss, which, as it happens, is the only place we can find the cure.”

         — Text by Roberto Bolaño, “Literature + illness = illness,” 2003, trans. Natasha Wimmer


Nearly a century separates the authors’ quotes, but nothing’s changed. This is how we shore ourselves up: the absurd boast that starts with spicy laughs and playful shoves and somehow, before you’ve had a chance to mark the change, ends in cold, unblinking gaze.

There are seasons in our lives when all is ugly, within and without; when nothing comforts and seems real — not art, not mind, not spirit — when nothing but flesh — and what we can know through flesh — seem able to save us. We raise our voices in its honor, we make vast claims for it, we cast everything else aside, we grow desperate, we toast and break glasses, we laugh a little too loudly, we avoid each other’s eyes.

All laughter is proof against death.

C. Way/ © 2009

[posted by C Way at 1:27 AM]


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