[NetBehaviour] Riverrun Theory, Garments, and Dante

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Thu Jul 29 22:29:12 CEST 2021

Dear all,
the threads began to expand and overlap, and I'd fallen behind by last weekend, but wanted to thank you all for this lively archaeology of art, writing, and riverrun theories (I add a photo, from the recent flood making the liminal a strange watery reflection, a Dantean mirror but not of ice, as yet). Max and Graziano really made things even more complex now, with the historical dig into the Italian language and the significance of Dante's poetry, yes today too ...(a language/dialect, spoken by a tiny minority, to unite a nation? what an idea!). 

........(and interestingly, talking about popular reading, the German newspaper FAZ has run a nearly daily column for two or three months on Dante [www.faz.net/dante] , every time written by a different writer, poet, cultural historian, politician, and each time one of them comments on Dante, a line or two is cited from the Commedia)

So thank you Max and Graziano, but also Alan, Simon, Anthony and everyone. (I tried to read Max while listening to 233.0819116727d (3 b flat hz) by Jackson and Klingenmeier, that proved difficult as the "Together but Separate" project was just too fascinating, watching the musician in the field.... But Max I also wish to thank you for your comments on Monika Weiss's work, and Alan Sondheim for correcting me on the wild land, parcelled off as you say, and I called it a park, something cultivated!  The noise of your video (mysterious chimneys) - that now makes sense and I will listen again to the sound you conjoined with the slime mold.

So, today's FAZ entry on Dante, interestingly, is by the Russian poet Maria Stepanova, who first quotes Purgatorio, XXVII, 

„Sappia qualunque il mio nome dimanda
ch’i’ mi son Lia, e vo movendo intorno
le belle mani a farmi una ghirlanda.“

comments on the dream about Lia and her sister Rahel, but then veers off into speculation on time, and the (pandemic) present..."“It is unthinkable to read Dante's chants without directing them to the present. That is what they are made for. They are devices to capture the future. They require a comment in the future tense", she remembers ( Mandelstam), then thinks of Dante's hell as a blind kingdom and reads the lines above as a grotesque commentary on Lea and Rahel's dream: As if the blind souls who have gathered in front of the ice mirror were presenting the dark side of the vita contemplativa - in a situation where the vita activa has been abolished: The effect of the pandemic is such, it has started to sway,  passes more slowly, becomes still....
The daily monotony, the confinement, the standstill, all of this has typological similarity to sensations that we know from blockade or prison diaries...... If this blocked movement suggests it goes nowhere – then through the ice in which we are frozen, we can neither see ourselves nor the others around us, Stepanova* concludes.  We are in hell, as Sondheim had predicted ("pessimist altar").

with regards
Johannes Birringer

* Her most recent poetry collection is titled "The Body Returns"

From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Max Herman via NetBehaviour 

Hi Graziano,

Apologies for my anglo-centrism!  I was browsing wikipedia and saw that Blake helped something of a Dante revival but that of course was among English writers.  I happened to watch an online event about climate change which was introduced by the Italian Ambassador (I think to the US, or Canada?) who said in his introductory remarks that Dante was "the father of Italy" and wrote "people should not live like brutes" meaning for today's world that we should find solutions to climate change.

I did not know there were so many dialects, having only visited Italy a few times and studied its history very poorly for the most part.


Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
Wed 28/07/2021 

Pessimist Altar


Look, I can't always be right can I? But more recently I keep
finding that what I had predicted all the way back and courses I
was teaching in the 1970s - these things are coming true . I
can't express this any other way except through music . This is
a piece I did in which I created a number of obstacles so to
speak things getting in the way barriers and then suddenly
flooding out as if a dam had burst or monsoon had hit or or a
tornado had flattened a house . Or a tornado had flattened a
town . Or a virus had destroyed the earth . Or heat had burned
everything up . There's nothing to do but sit back and watch the
spectacle and publish warnings and talk more and more about
these things and join groups and complain and take action . But
all of these good intentions can't hide the fact that the earth
has enormous inertia . And the inertia of the earth beats down
everything . It takes over everything . It takes over the green
houses for example it takes over the electrical vehicles which
have their own problems . I'm talking this through now . What
else can I do ? It's almost like a documentary the end of the
world . I've been told I'm pessimistic, but what can I think
when everything I have taught has come to pass ? It may be like
JG Ballard . So much of the heat so much of the violence so much
of the isolation all of these things have come true . All of
these things have become postulates . This small music is in
response to that . The picture is of an altar 10 years ago .
Thank you for reading this far . And if you wonder why I'm a
pessimistic, think again . And stop blaming the boomers for
everything that's built into our consciousness from the very
beginning .

Anyway enjoy the music .
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