Monday, 3 September 2018

Two pages from Lars Gustafsson, 'Valda Skrifter 1' in English translation


When fungi start to appear at the end of July, on the forest paths, in the old thickets down by the lake, under the birch trees, it always comes as a surprise.
Their shapes are completely alien; clubs, hats, spikes, parasols, but only one word really applies: fungi. Just as unclear what they actually consist of. Where was the substance that caused them to grow?
In the ground? In the air?
Between the end of July and the end of October it is as if an other, perhaps an older, vegetation were trying to conquer nature, and is then forced to retreat once more.

The starry sky, the staring of the galaxies.
The stubborn capacity of the universe to maintain unheard-of distances, as opposed to our just as eager attempts to see the world as small, as surveyable, frequentable for signals and observations.
The quantum logic of physics and chemistry. The same thing: the stubborn refusal of matter to be anything else than probabilities, shadows that play over bare rocks in the sunset, sudden gusts of wind that pass through a solitary aspen in the coppice yet leave the aspens next to it completely still. And our stubborn eager struggle for a substance, particles, individualities that refuse to exist in real physics.
This world of distances and shadows and random leaps between spectral lines, this frightening silent dance is what I mean by the silence of the world before Bach.

                       (Lars Gustafsson, Valda Skrifter 1, p.389)

The silence of the world before Bach

There must have existed a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor Partita,
but what was that world like?
A Europe of large unresonating spaces
everywhere unknowing instruments,
where Musikalisches Opfer and Wohltemperiertes Klavier
had never passed over a keyboard.
Lonely remote churches
where the soprano voice of the Easter Passion
had never in helpless love twined itself round
the gentler movements of the flute,
gentle expanses of landscape
where only old woodcutters are heard with their axes
the healthy sound of strong dogs in winter
and – like a bell – skates biting into glassy ice;
the swallows swirling in the summer air
the shell that the child listens to
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
skating silence of the world before Bach

                       (Lars Gustafsson, Valda Skrifter 1, p.369)

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