Pier Paolo Pasolini; A Desperate Vitality


(Draft, in a cursus in present-day jargon, of what has just transpired:
Fiumicino, the old castle, and a first real idea of death.)

As in a film by Godard: alone
in a car speeding down the motorways
of Latin neo-capitalism — returning from the airport —
[where Moravia stayed behind, a pure soul with his bags]
alone, „racing his Alfa Romeo“
in sunlight so heavenly it cannot be put
into rhymes not elegiac
— the finest sun we’ve had all year —
as in a film by Godard:
under a sun bleeding motionless
the canal of the port of Fiumicino
— a motorboat returning unnoticed
—Neapolitan sailors covered in woolen rags
— a car accident, a few onlookers gathered round …

— as in a film by Godard — romanticism
rediscovered in a time
of neocapitalist cynicism and cruelty —
behind the wheel
along the road from Fiumicino —
there’s the castle (what sweet
mystery for the French scriptwriter,
this papal colossus in the troubled, endless,
age-old sun, with its battlements
over hedges and plantation rows in an ugly landscape
of peasant serfs) …

— I am like a cat burnt alive
crushed by a tractor-trailer’s wheels,
hung by boys from a fig tree,

but with eight
of its nine lives still left,
like a snake reduced to a bloody pulp,
a half-eaten eel

— cheeks hollow under despondent eyes,
hair thinning frightfully at the crown,
arms now skinny as a child’s
— a cat that won’t croak, Belmondi
„at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo”
who in the narcissistic logic of the montage
steps outside of time and inserts
in images that have nothing do
with the boredom of hours on end …
or the afternoons’s slow resplendence unto death …

Death lies not
in not being able to communicate
but in no longer being understood.

And that papal colossus, not without
grace — memory
of land concessions from the nobles,
innocent gifts, as innocent
as the serfs’ submission —
in a sun that
over centuries
over thousands of noontides
was the only guest here,

that papal colossus, huddling
with its battlements amid coastal groves
of poplar, watermelon patches, dykes,

that papal colossus sheathed
in buttresses the sweet orange color
of Rome, crumbling
like a Roman or Etruscan structure,

is about to be no longer understood.



(In a jump-cut, without fade-in, I show myself enacting —
with no historical precedent — the „culture industry.”)

I, the voluntary martyr … and
she across from me, on the couch:
shot/reverse shot, in quick flashes,
„You” — I know what she’s thinking, looking at me —
then a homegrown Italian MS,
also à la Godard — „You’re a kind of Tennessee!”
this cobra in her little wool sweater
(a subordinate cobra,
slithering in magnesium silence).
Then aloud: „Could you tell me what you’re writing now?”

„Verse! I write verse! Verse!
(goddamned idiot,
verse you would never understand, since
you know nothing abour metrics! Verse!)

That’s the important part: no longer in tercets!
I’ve gone straight back to the magma!
Neocapitalism has won, and I’m
out on the street
as poet, ah [sob]
and as citizen [another sob].”

The cobra with the ballpoint:
„And the title of your work?” „I don’t know …
[He’s speaking softly now, as though intimidated, playing
the part the interview, which he accepted, has forced him
to play: how little it takes
to shrink
his snarl
to the sulk of a mama’s boy on death row]
— maybe … ‚Persecution‘
or … ‚A New Prehistory‘ (or just ‚Prehistory‘)

or …
[and here he bristles, recovering
the dignity of civic hatred]
‚Monologue on the Jews‘ …”
[The conversation
sags like a languid arsis
in a muddled octosyllable: magmatic!]
„And what’s it about?”
„Well, its about my … I mean your, death.
Which lies not in not being able to communicate [death],
but in not being understood …

(If the cobra only knew that this
is just some flimsy thought that came to me
on the way back from Fiumicino!)
They’re almost all lyric poems whose arrangement
of time and place
derives — how strange! — from a ride in a car …
meditations at forty to senventy miles per hour …
with quick pans and tracking shots
— before and after —
of important monuments or groups
of people, spurring
an objective love … in the citizen
(or motorist) …”
„Ha, ha” — [it’s the cobress with the ballpoint laughing] — „and
who is it that doesn’t understand?”
„Those who no longer belong to us.”


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