“Our perception of a poem or work of art might actually be a composite of the various interpretations that we make of it at different stages of our lives.”

“It is interesting to read [these] poems over the course of a lifetime, because, as with paintings, one’s perception of them changes with time.
When we superimpose our successive impressions of works of art or poems, we can see them as geological strata. Drilling down through the layers, we extract a core sample that can tell us something about the life of the work, not as an isolated impression or phenomenon linked to the past but as a living being, which has preserved a record of its inner history and evolution.
We can also interpret the phenomenon in another way, namely, as a simple transformation of the work of art over time, with nothing added or subtracted.
This phenomenon is related to cross-mapping, which ones does by arranging maps one on top of another in order to detect differences between them – the differences wherein I believe truth lies.
If we superimpose geological maps, we can observe the coming and going of ice ages. Similarly, historical maps can tell us about the drastic changes brought by the conquests of Alexander the Great or by political changes in the Fertile Crescent over a period of 10,000 years.
With these examples in mind, it is not hard to accept that our perception of a poem or work of art might actually be a composite of the various interpretations that we make of it at different stages of our lives.”

Anselm Kiefer, Marine (trans. Arthur Goldhammer)

4 thoughts on ““Our perception of a poem or work of art might actually be a composite of the various interpretations that we make of it at different stages of our lives.”

  1. From which book is this essay, Anthony? I’d like to read a collection if there is such a book. I’ve always liked Kiefer a lot. I was lucky enough to see the White Cube exhibition some years ago. I love what he does with decay and examining alchemical processes. I’ve always had a fascination with oxidised metals. Something in the way that the shapes of some kind of Ur lnaguage seem to be revealed against an elemental background. A long time obesession of mine.

    Like

    • It’s coincidental that you should mention that White Cube exhibition, which I recall very fondly. This essay is from ‘Des Meeres Und Der Liebe Wellen’, which was sold at the gallery to accompany the exhibition. For a long time, I would’ve argued that Kiefer’s work sat alongside Van Gogh’s but I am less certain these days. Perhaps there is simply too much. I do like however what he has to say about art and literature. Seagull Books have published a first volume on his notebooks, which is very rewarding. I have several of his exhibition catalogues, in which his essays are always insightful. There is also a book from Seagull later in the year, Kiefer’s conversations with Klaus Dermutz. I’m looking forward to it.

      Like

Post a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.