January 4, 2010

Street of Crocodiles

Don't know why it took me so long to get around to Bruno Schulz, especially given my fondness for Eastern Europeans famous (Franz Kafka) and not-so-famous (Geza Csath). I am even a big fan of the Brothers Quay's famous adaptation of Schulz's Street of Crocodiles. I recently used an Amazon gift certificate to pick up Street of Crocodiles and Witold Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke (which, incidentally, had one of its first editions illustrated by Schulz, who was also a visual artist).

Here's a nice little passage from "Tailor's Dummies", a story from Street, wherein the narrator's father (the sole swatch of color in Schulz's winter) expounds on his "theory of matter":
"We are not concerned", he said, "with long-winded creations, with long term beings. Our creatures will not be heroes of romances in many volumes. Their roles will be short, concise; their characters -- without a background. Sometimes, for one gesture, for one word alone, we shall make the effort to bring them to life. We openly admit: we shall not insist on either durability or solidity of workmanship; our creations will be temporary, to serve for a single occasion. If they be human beings, we shall give them, for example, only one profile, one hand, one leg, the one limb needed for their role. It would be pedantic to bother about the other, unnecessary, leg. [. . . ] We shall have this proud slogan as our aim: a different actor for every gesture. [. . . ] The Demiurge was in love with consummate, superb, and complicated materials; we shall give priority to trash. We are simply entranced and enchanted by the cheapness, shabbiness, and inferiority of material."

That is so punk rock.

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