Travelling from my French hometown – and what, after all, is a ‘hometown’ that one has only inhabited for a year and a half, after having left one’s Dutch hometown of some forty years… – to our little country seat, you pass a barren field, surrounded by a tree here and there. A sign indicates that this is a meadow for Gens de Voyage. This is the French Newspeak for Roma or Gypsies, one of its euphemisms referring to people who are allowed by communities to stay there for a while, then to ‘move on’ – after all they are People who Travel….
What a difference with those who are also on the road, yet travelling the inner map of the mind, not knowing where it may lead them: The Roads of the Poets. This kind of Gens de Voyage live the Bard’s paradox, well phrased by Czeslaw Milosz:
… I keep silent, like it becomes
a man who knows that the heart
can suffer more than our language…
I speak to you silently,
Like the clouds do, or the tree…
One is reminded of the last, quite often misunderstood paragraph of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” At least, I think I have understood this. This is not the austere, almost Mondrian kind of abstract Modernism, stating that what cannot be grasped within the confinement of ‘positive’ empirical-logical thought, should simply not be spoken of. Wittgenstein, methinks, was seeking refuge in the arts.
Wittgenstein would have applauded Milosz’ verse. The Austrian philosopher is merely warning us that we should beware of blah blah, stating notions of so-called knowledge in ostensibly clear language, but in fact resulting in nothing but blah blah. He we would have trembled and shuddered in this age of conspiracy idiots and wayward religious emotions. When things are unclear, perhaps not yet clear, not to be stated and thus not comprehended as communicable knowledge, we should indeed not utter nonsense instead.
However, “there are more things between heaven and earth than dreamt of in your philosophy…”. Things ineffable. No ‘mysteries’, no ‘higher beings’ – not the guru’s nonsense. I mean mysteries, perhaps even miracles of a cow standing with its legs on a blanket of ground fog; a high-speed swallow diving onto the waters, merely touching the surface with the tip of its little beak, while snatching away an insect; a Douglas Fir caressing the heavens…
What is needed here is the eye of the painter, the words of the poet, those Gypsies of an inner world, silent, yet speaking to us of such wonders. The arts’ paradox.
Sierksma, Montmorillon 22.4/2021