Digging for Stars

I recently read through a series of posts on the NYC 1970's music scene, written by an author who has just passed away. One of the luminous tangents of the series deals with the question of why some dedicated musicians become stars and others do not. The series also takes as its refrain the concept of parallel lives in the Euclidean sense of parallel lines (from Debby Harry's album Parallel Lines): that which is parallel never meets; lives that are parallel never intersect (might we also invoke Plutarch at this point? But we cannot; here, we are speaking in Baudelairian correspondences of subjectivities and not universals). In this universe, these parallel lines seek visible constellations, not all of them constellating one. The claim is made that lesser-known artists create the backdrop or scene that makes it possible for others to shine.
The writer of the series in one digression suggests that Freud is one to be read as fiction, so in this way (and I went back to some Freud last week) Freud is a constellation that may be dug up just as Freud posits to Rat Man that Pompeii is to be dug up (although Pompeii had been preserved before it had been dug up, his argument, in response to his patient's misgivings, posits that it is better to be discovered than preserved). It is a fascinating passage, one can imagine Freud surrounded by this aesthetic plunder. He presents a star of dichotomy: preservation vs. discovery. An artist bringing the inner life to the fore.
The internal constellation is described by Marcus Aurelius in his first chapter in terms of how it becomes manifest through others' actions (who, for example, "could either enjoy or leave things which most find themselves too weak to abstain from, and too self-indulgent to enjoy"; have "an eye to the actual need, rather than to ... popularity"; possess "disinterestedness of purpose"); implied through his thanks for such examples is that he has internalised these lessons of self.
Parallels in that universe can be measured in terms of models. Today, there is less of a tendency to think in terms of models than "correspondences" of "colours" (to cite Baudelaire and Rimbaud). Like what Guy Davenport wrote about art, except it has to do with words: the modern is primitive. An archaeology of knowledge that also sources the unintelligible. We are permitted to write in symbols, like <<< or >. I learned from the music posts that rock and roll was initially about the energy of the end to segregation. Only the form of the star remains, we have no eyes for what is behind it.




I once learned from an appraiser, also departed, that just because an item is antique does not mean it is, which is to say was, not trash. A series of fine lines, visible through knowledge and insight, informs where things that look the same are actually different. For example, John O'Donohue suggests that biography is not the same as identity, which might be quite liberating particularly for architects of the cult of self seeking stardom.
In a NYT article by Oliver Sacks that has parallels with Aurelius' To Himself, Sacks departs from that similarity to become similar to the song of self of this age by appendaging a eulogy for his own generation, writing that its members will leave empty spaces behind them that cannot be filled. Philip Larkin also wrote of the "new absence" in the first day after a death - but he was not talking about his own. Perhaps those moments when one is less concerned with digging up one's inner Pompeii one thereby truly possesses it, finding an identity behind biography, wherein "each task [is performed] as though it were [one's] last, free from all waywardness, from passions averse to the dictates of reason, from insincerity, self-love, and discontent with destiny" as Aurelius wrote.
Larkin's poem indicates a star people might really be wanting to dig for. The empty space emerges because something was loved that is no longer there. While each life may be separate, that is what Sacks writes, one life can learn from another, which saves the trouble of some personal exhumation. There are other lines that may be grasped. To emulate selected aesthetics of the dead circumvents the necessity of the ugly spectacle we all know is there, attempting to garner our attention but wandering eyes are fated to be chastised: "There, ye wretches, take your fill of the fine spectacle!" (439e-440). Aurelius suggests that questions be asked of that which makes impressions on us: "of what is it compounded? how long has it to last? on what virtue does it make demand? gentleness, courage, truth, good faith, simplicity, self-help, or what?" What, indeed, lines and stars.



Magazine in background: Mairie Claire Idees. Brush: ~PStoGIMP at deviantART.

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