interview – crazy horse

April 15, 2009

page 7

You referred earlier to “primitive poetry” and just spoke about the vision of children and savages. To what extent would you call yourself a primitivist? Is there a limit beyond which you wouldn’t want to go, a danger point, so to speak, where primitivism turns into something primarily destructive of culture and tradition? Or is that a false danger?

Not easy to define briefly. I suppose when I say “primitive” I mean that which came first. It has to do with a certain quality of existence, psychological unity with nature, the impulse for which lies dormant in every human being. I’d like to touch on only one aspect of the problem. For example, what is curious to me is that we are no longer astronished at being alive. Wonder is getting to be a rare emotion. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the recent scientific discoveries remain for most of us meaningless. Awe is what could translate them for us, but we have forgotten the taste of it as we have forgotten so much else. Our nakedness, for instance. That all we truly possess is the reality of our bodies. “Culture,” “tradition,” are for me interesting abstractions. Once one asks oneself what one really knows for oneself, once one begins to be guided by that sense, well then one starts discovering relatives in all cultures and centuries. Or, in other words, one naked man is in the same psychological situation as another.

(the uncertain certainty, charles simic)

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