Don’t Be Too Quick to Draw…

“Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame… at your past, which naturally has a share with everything that now meets you.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Drawing Hands, M.C. Escher, 1948

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The Ark of the Covenant

The Cathedral, Auguste Rodin, 1908

 

Carved in stone and still covered in toolmarks,The Cathedral is a combination of two right hands, belonging to two different figures. It was entitled The Ark of the Covenant, before being named The Cathedral, very probably after the publication of Auguste Rodin’s Les Cathédrales de France, in 1914. Parallels may be drawn between the mysterious inner space that seems to emanate from the composition and Gothic architecture. Emptiness was a factor that Rodin used to allow for, and, as Rainer Maria Rilke pointed out, “the role of air had always been extremely important” for him (Rilke, 1928).

Very similar to The Secret, this work belongs to the series carved in marble, most frequently after 1900, such as The Hand of God, The Hand of the Devil, Hands of Lovers and Hand from the Tomb. But, more broadly, it emphasizes Rodin’s fondness and passion for these hands, which he isolated, like the fragments in his collection of Antiques, in order to give them a more finished and autonomous form.

I Pray Again, You Illustrious One

Les Vacances de Hegel (Hegel’s Holiday),  René Magritte, 1958

 

ICH BETE WIEDER, DU ERLAUCHTER

 

Ich bete wieder, du Erlauchter,

du hörst mich wieder durch den Wind,

weil meine Tiefen nie gebrauchter

rauschender Worte mächtig sind.

Ich war zerstreut; an Widersacher

in Stücken war verteilt mein Ich.

O Gott, mich lachten alle Lacher,

und alle Trinker tranken mich

 

__________________________

 

I pray again, you Illustrious One;

do you hear me again through the wind

because from my unused depths

mighty words are rushing.

  I was dispersed; to the adversary

my self was given in pieces.

O God, I laughed all laughter,

  and all drunkards drank me.

 

Le clef des champs (The Key to the Fields) , 1936

 

Ich war ein Haus nach einem Brand,

darin nur Mörder manchmal schlafen,

eh ihre hungerigen Strafen

sie weiterjagen in das Land;

ich war wie eine Stadt am Meer,

wenn eine Seuche sie bedrängte,

die sich wie eine Leiche schwer

den Kindern in die Hände hängte.

 

__________________________

 

I was a house after a fire,

 where only murderers sometimes sleep,

and their hungry punishments

pursue them through the land;

 I was like a city on the sea,

pressed by a plague,

 which like a heavy corpse

hung the children in the hands.

 

Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite), a portrait of Edward James by René Magritte, 1937

 

Ich war mir fremd wie irgendwer

und wußte nur von ihm, daß er

einst meine junge Mutter kränkte,

als sie mich trug,

und daß ihr Herz, das eingeengte,

sehr schmerzhaft an mein Keimen schlug.

 

 __________________________

 

I was a stranger to myself as one

of whom I knew only that he

once offended my young mother

as she carried me

and that her heart, thus constricted,

throbbed achingly about my sprouting self.

 

Rind, M.C. Escher, 1955

 

Jetzt bin ich wieder aufgebaut

aus allen Stücken meiner Schande

und sehne mich nach einem Bande,

nach einem einigen Verstande,

der mich wie ein Ding überschaut, –

nach deines Herzens großen Händen –

(o kämen sie doch auf mich zu)ich zähle mich, mein Gott, und du,

du hast das Recht, mich zu verschwenden.

 

 __________________________

 

Now I am rebuilt

from all the pieces of my shame

and yearn for a bond,

 for a unified understanding,

which regards me as one thing

 – as I yearn for the big hands of your Heart [to

me]

  (oh, let them draw near me)

I count myself, my God, and you,

You have the right, to waste me.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke

From The Book of Hours

Translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy