The Bars of Atlantis: Selected Essays
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This landmark collection of essays by one of the world's greatest living authors makes Durs Grünbein's wide-ranging and multifaceted prose available in English for the first time, and is a welcome complement to Ashes for Breakfast, his first book-length collection of poetry in English.
Covering two decades, The Bars of Atlantis unfurls the entire breadth and depth of Grünbein's essayistic genius. Memoiristic and autobiographical pieces that introduce Grünbein, the man and the author, and tell the story of the making of a poet and thinker toward the end of a century marked by global political strife, unprecedented human suffering, long decades of totalitarian rule, and, in its final quarter, the dawn of a new, post–Cold War world order; essays that focus on Grünbein's major philosophical and aesthetic concerns, such as the intersection of art and science, literature and biology; extended reflections on the existential, cultural, political, and ethical import of the poet's craft in the contemporary world; and, finally, explorations of the meaning of classical antiquity for the present—all contribute to making.
lowest-level specialization of their organs. They are all too clearly characterized by their armaments, their bodies hardened into masks of horror. As if designed in monster labs, their few instinctual impulses have found their most direct and most articulate expressions, like race cars outfitted with external motors, broad tires, and small airfoils, stripped-down machines, naked in their almost greedy functionality. By daylight, nature only rarely, if at all, subsequently reveals itself so
the vocal residue, into oblivion. Its current locus is the periphery, kept warm for it by its predecessors, rhetoric and theology. Throughout the Middle Ages, rumors and messengers did duty for journalism; today it’s the press that makes the news. Once, centuries revolved around an epic, and whole dynasties assembled for an aubade, while modern wars are more and more frequently started at the behest of an illiterate for the sake of a few paper principles. That a line can manage to escape from
genius, or in the terms of modern neurophysics. It’s another thing to understand how these conditions bring forth an art whose entire purpose it is to set off fireworks in the reader’s psyche. It seems to me after decades of practice that the truth of the matter continues to elude us, being shrouded in a sort of twilight. So long as a phenomenon cannot wholly be explained, however, it’s only fair and just—for both expert and layman—to continue speculating about its secret. No matter how
he spare you a peek into his own box of prejudices, when he is compelled on a daily basis to inspect those of others? Moreover, everything with Cummings has to do with this one, ambivalent concept, negation, which signifies both the process of negating and its effect, the result of disappearance, namely: nothing. And it is precisely this annulling, this deletion, this causing to disappear that is at issue. Are those nonartists, always terribly busy but finally disappearing without a trace, are
airports? There are several possibilities. Some say a page in a book is enough; that’s where a poem really belongs. The book is where language gathers itself, concentrates itself on itself—the honed speech of the poet as the absolute master of expression. That would have been the view of someone like Mallarmé, and not a few have followed him there, armies of immanentists and poet-linguists—all die-hard anti-semanticists—to whom linguistic combinatorics means everything and the external world