West/East Divan

”The true poet is called to take in the splendor of the world and for that reason will always be inclined to praise rather than to find fault.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, West-East Divan

Frankfurt, July 2017/Burma, December 2016

 

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Repeat my master’s absurdities, tremble, pay, and keep your mouths shut

I possess a dignity and a power founded on ignorance and credulity; I walk on the heads of men who lie prostrate at my feet; if they should rise and look me in the face, I am lost; I must bind them to the ground, therefore, with iron chains. Thus have reasoned the men whom centuries of bigotry have made powerful. They have other powerful men beneath them, and these have still others, who all enrich themselves with the spoils of the poor, grow fat on their blood, and laugh at their stupidity. They all detest tolerance, as partisans grown rich at the public expense fear to render their accounts, and as tyrants dread the word liberty. And then, to crown everything, they hire fanatics to cry at the top of their voices: “Repeat my master’s absurdities, tremble, pay, and keep your mouths shut.”

–Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary. 1764

 

Den Gefallenen der Weltkriege, Witten, April 2017

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There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair [verweilen: a reference to Goethe’s Faust], to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm.

— Walter Benjamin

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„Die Rede vom Zauber der Kunst ist Phrase, weil Kunst aller­gisch ist gegen den Rück­fall in Magie.“

–Theodor W. Adorno

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Are Photographs just tiny windows looking into the world, frozen moments of it that lie flat and quiet without sound or smell or movement? Susan Whatsername said something about photographs being like small deaths which is maybe true. Maybe not. Maybe such a statement reflects that person’s fear of being photographed. Certain people in certain places for ages have felt that a photograph steals a part of your soul, so when someone aimed a camera at them they were likely to throw a spear or cut the photographer’s throat or shoot them, or slug the photographer on the chin and demand a fifteen-percent cut of the royalties. To me, photographs are like words and I generally will place many photographs together or print them one inside the other in order to construct a free-floating sentence that speaks about the world I witness. History is made by and for particular classes of people. A camera in some hands can preserve an alternate history.

— David Wojnarowicz

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