June 15, 2012 | by Witold Gombrowicz
We told each other our dreams. Nothing in art, even the most inspired mysteries of music, can equal dreams. The artistic perfection of dreams! How many lessons this nocturnal archmaster gives to us, the daily fabricators of dreams, the artists! In a dream everything is pregnant with a dreadful and unfinished meaning, nothing is indifferent, everything reaches us more deeply, more intimately than the most heated passion of the day. This is the lesson: an artist cannot be restricted to day, he has to reach the night life of humanity and seek its myths and symbols. Also: the dream upsets the reality of the experienced day and extracts certain fragments from it, strange fragments, and arranges them illogically in an arbitrary pattern. Read More »
June 14, 2012 | by Witold Gombrowicz
Should I tell or not? A year ago, more or less, the following happened to me. I stopped in a café on Callao Street to use the bathroom … All kinds of drawings and scribblings were on the walls. Yet the unconscious urge would never have assailed me, like a poisonous dart, if I hadn’t accidentally fumbled across a pencil in my pocket. The pencil turned out to be an ink pen.
Enclosure, isolation, the certainty that nobody would see, some sort of stillness … and the murmur of water whispered: do it, do it, do it. I took out the pencil. I wet the tip. Read More »
June 13, 2012 | by Witold Gombrowicz
Yesterday at the Polish Club, I dropped by right at the end of the steamrollering of my soul and works. The paper that was positive about me was the work of Karol Swierczewski and Mrs. Jezierska read a paper against. A discussion followed at whose conclusion I appeared.
Thomas Mann, an experienced connoisseur in these matters, said that an art that grows in the light of recognition from the very beginning will undoubtedly be different from an art that must win a place for itself with difficulty, and at the price of much humiliation. How would my work have looked if from its very inception it had been crowned with a laurel wreath; if even today, so many years later, I did not have to devote myself to it as to something forbidden, shameful, and inappropriate? Read More »
June 12, 2012 | by Witold Gombrowicz
Zygmunt Grocholski’s vernissage in Galatea. Portfolios full of engravings on the table. Large surfaces soaked in color on the walls. Compositions frozen in proud abstraction look down from the walls onto the sloppy human anthill; a mob of disorderly two-legged creatures tumbling past in wild disarray. On the walls: Astronomy. Logic. Composition. In the gallery: Confusion. Imbalance. An excess of unorganized detail, which overflows on all sides. Accompanied by the Dutch painter Gesinus, I comment on one of the engravings, on which certain masses are harnessed by the slanted tensions of lines and are like a horse reined in and frozen in a leap, when someone’s behind nudges under my rib cage. I jump back. This turns out to be a photographer, bent over and aiming his box at the more important guests.
Thrown off balance, I try, nevertheless, to compose myself. In the presence of Alice de Landes, I feel myself drifting into a certain colorful fugue subject to its own laws when something rolls over me like a water buffalo or hippopotamus, barbarian style … Who? The photographer, stretched beyond all endurance, shooting doublets en face and profiles.
June 11, 2012 | by Witold Gombrowicz
Among literature’s famous first lines, we must include this one: “Monday. Me. Tuesday. Me. Wednesday. Me. Thursday. Me.” It comes from Witold Gombrowicz’s Diary, widely considered the Polish author’s masterpiece. Yet Gombrowicz didn’t make his first entry until 1953, when he was forty-nine and an expatriate in Argentina, and the last entry was made in 1969 from France, shortly before his death. Still, the Diary lacks for nothing: history, politics, philosophy, literature, art, music, love, death, humor, communism, Poland, Europe, writing—everything is there.
Long out of print, the Diary will be republished next week by Yale University Press as part of their Margellos World Republic of Letters series. But we have unofficially dubbed this one Gombrowicz Week and will be sharing entries from 1954 and 1955 here daily.
Yesterday (Thursday) a cretin began to bother and worry me all day. Perhaps it would be better not to write about this … but I do not want to be a hypocrite in this diary. It began when I first went to Acasusso to Mr. Alberto H.’s (an industrialist and engineer) for breakfast. At first glance, his villa seemed too Renaissance, but not betraying this impression, I sat down at the table (also Renaissance) and began to eat dishes whose Renaissance in the course of eating became more and more obvious at which time the conversation, too, settled on the Renaissance until finally and completely openly and even passionately one began to adore Greece, Rome, naked beauty, the call of the flesh, evoe, Pathos and Ethos (?) and even some column or other on Crete. When it got to Crete, the cretin crawled out, crawled out (?) and crept up but not in Renaissance manner (?!) but quite neoclassically cretinously (?) (I know that I should not write about this, this sounds rather odd).