onepuzzledspecies

Auden og arvesynden

Forside litteraturen og det onde

Tidsskriftet bøygen har fått nye, fine nettsider, og i den anledning har en artikkel jeg skrev for bøygen 2/13 blitt tilgjengelig på nett. Temaet for nummeret var Litteraturen og det onde.

Auden og arvesynden

 

40 years since Auden’s death

Auden died on the 29th of September, 1973, in a hotel room in Vienna. According to rumour, the hotel staff worried it might have been suicide, because there was a half-empty decanter of vodka and a bottle of sleeping pills on the nightstand. Auden’s partner (sort of) since 1939, Chester Kallmann, had to explain to them that he always fell asleep that way (the Benzedrine he purportedly took each morning to kick him into writing gear probably didn’t help).

Here are some readings I found today that I hadn’t heard before:

A beautiful reading of Lullaby

Tom Hiddleston reads As I Walked Out One Evening

DAGENS MORALISMER

Det antall mennesker som er i besiddelse av de rette kriteria til å kunne skjelne mellom godt og ondt, er meget lite. Tallet på de halvt bevisste som hungrer etter hvilken som helst form for åndelig tilfredsstillelse – høyverdig eller mindreverdig, god eller ond – er ganske anselig.

Sterke lidenskaper har for øvrig bare interesse og betydning hos sterke karakterer. De som motstandsløst gir etter for sinnsbevegelser som er egnet til å berøve dem fornuftens bruk, blir bare redskap for følelser og taper sitt menneskeverd; og uten moralsk motstand eller kamp taper livet sin mening.

Lawrence, med sin tendre følsomhet, sine voldsomme fordommer og lidenskaper og sin mangel på intellektuell og sosial trening, er et velegnet redskap for gode eller for onde makter, eller – som ventelig kunne være – dels for det ene og dels for det annet. Et veltrimmet intellekt, James Joyce’s intellekt, er til enhver tid på det rene med i hvis tjeneste det går. Et utrenet intellekt, en sjel blottet for ydmykhet og oppfylt av selvrettferdighet er en blind tjener og lunefull leder.

(Fra Fremmede Guder av T. S. Eliot)  

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Auden on Saint Marks

Found a great photo of Auden today:

Auden on Saint Marks, white

Source

Original source

Digital Humanities

Every now and then since I started studying literature, the rumour has popped up: There are people out there applying STATISTICS to literature. This is usually followed by an alarmed or blank facial expression, involuntary shuddering and, frequently, someone giving the closest wooden table a discreet knock. If someone mutters “statistics” we answer “bless you” and continue ignoring the subject to death. The statistical scholar of literature is like some embarrassing cousin we have an unspoken agreement about never to mention. He or she is our Asher Lev, a traitor overturning the True Spirit and Purpose of literary “research” (our euphemism for personal explorations of the eternal and existential mysteries of…well, existence), someone who has seemingly converted to the Other Side and joined the enemy. As my own closest acquaintance among the list of honorable dead white men (guess who) puts it:

…thou shalt not sit

With statisticians nor commit

A social science.

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The paranoid and Narcissus

“Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.

But the seed of a genuine disinterested love, which is often present, is ever to develop, it is essential that we pretend to ourselves and to others that it is stronger and more developed than it is, that we are less selfish than we are. Hence the social havoc wrought by the paranoid, to whom the thought of indifference is so intolerable that he divides others into two classes, those who love him for himself alone and those who hate him for the same reason.

Do a paranoid a favour, like paying his hotel bill in a foreign city when is monthly cheque has not yet arrived, and he will take this as an expression of personal affection – the thought that you might have done it from a general sense of duty towards a fellow-countryman in distress will never occur to him. So back he comes for more until your patience is exhausted, there is a row, and he departs convinced that you are his personal enemy. In this he is right to the extent that it is difficult not to hate a person who reveals to you so clearly how little you love others.”

*

“Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. It it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading. “After all,” sighed Narcissus the hunch-back, “on me it looks good.””

- W. H. Auden, “Hic et Ille,” Encounter April 1956

Horae Canonicae: Forbrytelsen i Audens tidebønnsyklus

For et par år siden skrev jeg en tekst for Litteraturtidsskriftet Lasso om Audens diktsyklus Horae Canonice, syv dikt strukturert etter de katolske tidebønnene. Det sentrale motivet, som diktene sirkler rundt men aldri portretterer direkte, er en ugjerning; det som vekselvis blir kalt et drap, en henrettelse, en dåd og en offerhandling. I denne syklusen utforsker Auden betydningen av “det som har skjedd” – den usagte forbrytelsen – for individet og kollektivet, med henblikk på begreper som skyld, ansvar og sivilisasjon. I bakgrunnen ligger langfredag og korsfestelsesmotivet.

Canonical hours

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