Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Rene Magritte - Untitled (Shell In The Form Of An Ear), 1956

Extract from Julien Gracq - Chateau d'Argol:

Then out of the depth of his disquietude there rose a sound that seemed instantly to fill the whole chapel and stream down the glistening walls, and without daring to turn around, so stunned was he by its inconceivable amplitude, he now realized that during his own silent exploration of the chapel, Herminien had mounted the stone steps of the organ loft which rose in the darkness to the left of the door, occupying a considerable portion of the chapel, but which, his own attention having been at once captured by the alluring light effect, had escaped his notice until now. Herminien's playing was stamped with a singular force, and such was his expressive power that Albert, as though he could read in the depths of his soul, divined each succeeding theme of this wild improvisation. At first it seemed that Herminien, with dissonant and tentative gropings, interrupted by reiterations and regressions in which the principal motif was repeatedly taken up in a more timid and, as it were, interrogative mode, was only trying out the volume and acoustical capacity of this perturbing edifice. And now burst forth waves of sound, as violent as the forest and free as the winds of the heights, and the storm which Albert had contemplated with such horror from the high terraces of the castle thundered out of those mystic depths, while above them sounds of a crystalline purity fell, one by one, in a surprising and hesitating decrescendo, and floated like a sonorous vapour shot with flashes of yellow sunlight, curiously following the rhythm of the drops of water that were dripping from the vault.

After these effects of nature came an access of violent, sensual passion, and with perfect fidelity the organist painted his savage frenzy: like a luminous mist Heide floated on high, vanished, returned, and finally established her empire over melodic swells, of an extraordinary amplitude that seemed to transport the senses into an unknown region, and, by means of an incredible perversion, to endow the ear with all the graces of touch and sight. Meanwhile, although the artist had already given full rein to a tremulous and incoercible passion, it seemed to Albert apparent from now on, that even in the full plenitude of his improvisation, whose curious arabesques still kept something of the tentative character of an experiment, Herminien was searching for the key to an even loftier soaring, the necessary support for a final leap whose completely decisive consequences were at once both forecast and unpredictable, and that he was hesitating on the very brink of that abyss whose glorious approaches he described with such wild enveloping grace.

Clearly now—and with every moment it became more apparent to Albert—he was looking for the unique angle of incidence at which the eardrum, deprived of its power of interception and of diffusion, would become permeable like pure crystal, and would change this thing of flesh and blood into a sort of prism of total reflection, where sound would be accumulated instead of passing through, and would irrigate the heart with the same freedom as the sanguine medium, thus restoring to the desecrated word ecstasy its true significance. A sonorous vibration, growing ever more concentrated, seemed the exterior sign of the sombre fever of his quest, and settled everywhere swarmingly like bees out of a suddenly shattered hive. Finally a note, held with marvellous steadiness, shrilled in incredible splendour, and taking off as from a beach of sound, rose a phrase of ineffable beauty. And still higher, in a mellow golden light which seemed to accompany the descent into the chapel of a sublime grace as an answer to a prayer, Herminien's fingers resounded, as if a light and consuming warmth ran through them, the song of virile fraternity. And the final breath that gradually left the lungs as it soared to unbelievable heights, let the salutary tide of a sea, as light and free as the night, rise into the completely vacant body.

1 comment:

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