Sunday, November 14, 2010

Founding Our Own Rhetoric

Painting by Egon Shiele, 1912

—Francis Ponge

     I assume that we are talking about saving a few young men from suicide and a few others from becoming cops or firemen. I have in mind those who commit suicide out of disgust, because they find that others own too large a share of them.
     To them one should say: at least let the minority within you have the right to speak. Be poets. They will answer: but it is especially there, it is always there that I feel others within me; when I try to express myself, I am unable to do so. Words are ready-made and express themselves: they do not express me. Once again I find myself suffocating.
     At that moment, teaching the art of resisting words becomes useful, the art of saying only what one wants to say, the art of doing them violence, of forcing them to submit. In short, it is a matter of public safety to found a rhetoric, or rather, to teach everyone the art of founding his own rhetoric.
     This saves those few, those rare individuals who must be saved: those who are aware, and who are troubled and disgusted by the others within them.
     Those individuals who make the mind progress, and who are, strictly speaking, capable of changing the reality of things.

(Translated from the French by Serge Gavronsky)