Thursday, 4 April 2013

Bruno Schulz and Creation

The six days of creation were divine and bright. But on the seventh day God broke down. On the seventh day he felt an unfamiliar texture under his fingers, and frightened, he withdrew his hands from the world.’

This image, from Bruno Schulz, seems to me to be an image of creation as such. The creation will always surprise the creator. Something will emerge that he hasn't foreseen, that no longer bears the authorial fingerprint. Some schools of criticism will try and recuperate this unfamiliar texture by saying that it is in reality the 'stranger within' - thus folding it back 'inside' the creator. But it seems to me there is a more irrecuperable strangeness, the emergence of something that has come in a sense from nowhere, that was previously deposited nowhere, that has not been dragged into the light from a clammy hiding place.

The reason for this irrecuperable strangeness, the sudden unfamiliar texture, is that the creator always works with materials, whether the clay of the sculpture, the body of the dancer, or the forms, grammar and diction of the writer. The creation will always be a deflection of the creator through the externality of these materials. Something will arise which is neither the virtuosic will of the creator nor the pure inertia of the materials, but a kind of hybrid, an enlargement and torsion of the will through the 'accidents' of whatever the creator is working with. They are accidents in the sense that he or she has not fashioned them- they will always have, if not a will of their own, then a logic of their own, which will bend the creator's will into new shapes, even if only by fractions.

 On the other hand, God, is supposed to be Him who creates from nothing, with no materials, or with materials that are finally not surplus in any way to his will or purpose. This is, precisely, the impossible position. Perhaps this is what Schulz implies. That even the first act of creation is on a level with every other - that, in other words, there was no 'first'.

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