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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Don DeLillo at Shakespeare & Company

Five months ago: 

We are honoured to welcome author Don DeLillo in the run-up to the launch of his latest novel Zero K.

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2012, DeLillo received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.

Photo by Joyce Ravid.

Laurie Anderson - The Cultural Ambassador

Anyway, I was in Israel as a kind of cultural ambassador
And there were lots of press conferences scheduled around the performances.
And the journalists usually started things off by asking about the avant-garde.


"So, what's so good about new?" they'd ask.

"Well, I'd say, new is… interesting."

"And what, they would say, is so good about interesting?"

"Well, interesting is, you know…
It's… interesting. It's like… being awake."
You know, I'm treading water now.

"And what is so good about being awake?" they'd say.


Finally I got the hang of this: never answer a question in Israel,
Always answer by asking another question.
But the Israelis were very curious
About the Gulf War and what Americans had thought about it,
And I tried to think of a good question to ask and answer to this,
But what was really on my mind was that the week before
I had myself been testing explosives in a parking lot in Tel Aviv.
Now this happened because I had brought some small stage bombs to Israel
As props for this performance
And the Israeli promoter was very interested in them.
And it turned out that he was on weekend duty on one of the bomb squads,
And bombs were also something of a hobby during the week.


So I said:

"Look, you know, these bombs are nothing special, just, just a little smoke."


And he said:

"Well, we can get much better things for you."


And I said:

"No really, these are fine…"


And he said:

"No, but it should be big, theatrical.
It should make an impression,
I mean you really need just the right bomb."


And so one morning he arranged to have about fifty small bombs
Delivered to a parking lot,
And since he looked on it as a sort of special surprise favor,
I couldn't really refuse,
So we are out on this parking lot testing the bombs,
And after the first few explosions,
I found I was really getting pretty… interested.


They all had very different characteristics:
Some had fiery orange tails,
And made these low pooh, pooh, pooh, popping sounds;
Others exploded mid-air and left long smoky, slinky trails,
And he had several of each kind in case I needed to review them all at the end, and I'm thinking:


Here I am, a citizen of the world's largest arms supplier,
Setting off bombs with the world's second largest arms customer,
And I'm having a great time!


So even though the diplomatic part of the trip wasn't going so well,
At least I was getting some instruction in terrorism.
And it reminded me of something in a book by Don DeLillo
About how terrorists are the only true artists left,
Because they're the only ones who are still capable of really surprising people.
And the other thing it reminded me of,
Were all the attempts during the Gulf War to outwit the terrorists,
And I especially remember an interesting list of tips
Devised by the US embassy in Madrid,
And these tips were designed for Americans
Who found themselves in war-time airports.
The idea was not to call ourselves to the attention of the numerous foreign terrorists
Who were presumably lurking all over the terminal,
So the embassy tips were a list of mostly don'ts.
Things like:
Don't wear a baseball cap;
Don't wear a sweat shirt with the name of an American university on it;
Don't wear Timberlands with no socks;
Don't chew gum;
Don't yell "Ethel, our plane is leaving!.
I mean it's weird when your entire culture
Can be summed up in eight giveaway characteristics.


And during the Gulf War I was traveling around Europe with a lot of equipment,
And all the airports were full of security guards
Who would suddenly point to a suitcase and start yelling:

"Whose bag is this? I wanna know right now who owns this bag."


And huge groups of passengers would start fanning out fromthe bag,
Just running around in circles like a Scud missile on its way in,
And I was carrying a lot of electronics
So I had to keep unpacking everything and plugging it in
And demonstrating how it all worked,
And I guess it did seem a little fishy;
A lot of this stuff wakes up displaying LED program readouts that have names like Atom Smasher,
And so it took a while to convince them that they weren't some kind of portable espionage system.
So I've done quite a few of these sort of impromptu new music concerts
For small groups of detectives and customs agents
And I'd have to keep setting all this stuff up
And they'd listen for a while and they'd say:

"So uh, what's this?"


And I'd pull out something like this filter and say:

"Now this is what I like to think of as the voice of Authority."


And it would take me a while to tell them how I used it for songs that were,
You know, about various forms of control, and they would say:

"Now, why would you want to talk like that?"


And I'd look around at the SWAT teams and the undercover agents
And the dogs and the radio in the corner,
Tuned to the Superbowl coverage of the war. And I'd say:

"Take a wild guess."


Finally of course, I got through,
It was after all American-made equipment,
And the customs agents were all talking about the effectiveness,
No the beauty, the elegance, of the American strategy of pinpoint bombing.
The high tech surgical approach,
Which was being reported on CNN
As something between grand opera and the Superbowl,
Like the first reports before the blackout
When TV was live and everything was heightened,
And it was so… euphoric.

Saul Leiter, a América e Don DeLillo

Ando a ler Libra de Don DeLillo, um dos mais americanos escritores... americanos. O tema é ainda por cima o assassinato de John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Que tema mais americano? A fotografia da capa, na minha edição, é de Saul Leiter, tão americano na fotografia como DeLillo na escrita. Ainda por cima os tons são Rothkianos. Que mais posso querer. É a primeira destas quatro abaixo, todas de Leiter.


Não consigo ainda ter opinião definitiva em relação ao Yellowism.

A primeira reação é de horror por terem intervindo de forma aparentemente bárbara e sem sentido sobre um quadro de um dos meus pintores favoritos, Mark Rothko. Um dos integrantes dos murais Seagram, que ainda por cima já vi ao vivo, no mesmo sítio onde aconteceu a dita intervenção.

A segunda reação é de dúvida e questão. Sempre achei que um dos critérios de avaliação da arte contemporânea era o da intenção do artista e se outra coisa aqui não houvesse, intenção há, de provocar o choque, a discussão, o debate. Volto sempre às palavras do Don DeLillo sobre o lugar dos romancistas no nosso imaginário, palavras que a Laurie Anderson cita e generaliza para o mundo da arte: "Years ago I used to think it was possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness. What writers used to do before we were all incorporated." E se há coisa que estes senhores foram é terroristas, ainda por cima sobre um quadro valorizado no mercado da arte em dezenas de milhões de euros.

A terceira reação, contudo, volta a sobrepor a primeira. Nunca a intervenção sobre a arte deve implicar a destruição ou desfiguramento de outra arte, é o que eu acho. Comentar, trabalhar, reproduzir, interrogar, recontextualizar, sim, tudo isto pode também ser arte. Intervir de forma vandalizadora é apenas terrorismo e se esse terrorismo se arroga a arte, nada mais é do que pretensão ao protagonismo que para mim não chega a ter o valor que deseja. E mesmo assim... tenho dúvidas, nos tempos que correm, tantas dúvidas.

Abaixo um dos Rothkos do dito conjunto.

The Most Photographed Barn In America.

Ainda a propósito de fotografia e turismo, um dos muitos momentos brilhantes de "White Noise" de Don DeLillo.

Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the sign started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides -- pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

"No one sees the barn," he said finally.

A long silence followed.

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."

There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

Another silence ensued.

"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.

He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.

"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said. "What did it look like, how was it different from the other barns, how was it similar to other barns?"