Ten Propositions on Disappointment
1. Cezanne aimed to paint like the old masters and the impressionists: using the mind and the heart-eye simultaneously, to capture reality as both substance and ideation. In High Trees In Jas de Bouffan, the pastoral landscape which he depicted saw the leaves rustle and blur like static, refusing the still life, resisting the mandate of the wind, unyielding: neither here, nor here.
2. For being rejected numerous times by salons in Paris, Merleau-Ponty wrote of Cezanne: "Nine days out of ten, all he saw around him was the wretchedness of his empirical life and of his unsuccessful attempts, the debris of an unknown celebration."
3. In a foreign land, one first notices the sky. For instance, there are more cumulonimbus clouds in Florida because the light falls incident to the earth at a different angle. In the evening, they ripple, as if some levitating volcano coughed, sending plumes of cotton flames blooming from the sun.
4. The pit, the ugly gritty dot on any ripe fruit, was once attached to the pedicel, the cord of conception.
5. A binder of authorities laid out in front of a rostrum is thicker than a holy text. An oral submission which follows is interpretation, is sermon. Nothing short of a pronouncement of faith, a pleading.
6. Yet the empirical world, with its daily machinations of rock parting to fire spilling into saltwater, has not nudged one bit for us.
7. "What changes is how we perceive it". I scoff at such cliches. I refuse such condescension, as if the contemplation of someone else's deeper grief is consolation for my own.
8. How we try to bury our pit: with unrelenting effort: by growing something even more whole and beautiful, with some hope of passing on an unblemished fruit.
9. In Bluets, Maggie Nelson acknowledges that in the end, "you have to stand there in the dirty rut you dug, alone in the darkness, in all its pulsing quiet".
10. The pit of an orange just happened to face Cezanne as he painted Still Life With Soup Tureen. He did not turn the fruit to the wall. The black eye grew, and it met the initial gaze of each and every viewer, the punctum overshadowing the soup bowl next to it. It called out: I am here to be seen. I am here in all my rot, as pith and peel. I shield the fruit I have cultivated, this plump heart.
By See Wern HaoQLRS Vol. 18 No. 3 Jul 2019