On a day when I was particularly frustrated by my own limitations and by the temptation to lift words and ideas from others, I lifted this line from Camus:
A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.
And I started to write my frustration. My mind slipped around to authors who were so talented, they created not only new phrases, but new ways of writing them down. Rimbaud is one of these artists. (Yes, I’m obsessed with Rimbaud. I’m very okay with that.) His work was unique, masterful, and had an influence on many creative movements.
So to make my theft complete, I used his poem, Vowels as a precipice to throw myself off of. I took great liberties with Paul Verlain, made assumptions and cast aspersions. In other words (ha), I made a right mess of things, and ended up here:
A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession—Camus
Stolen art is a different type of confession. ‘I cannot form these ideas in my own voice, in a different way. I cannot form a new idea.’ Can it be that every phrase possible has already been formed, and now we practice finesse, adjustment? Perhaps a different typeface will make it mine.
I put you in a different type. I’d like to plow through your words and scatter letters to the wind. You can go about picking them up—an I here, an A there—and try to make sense of it.
I seek the poetry of your senses. I pull you apart, attempt to dissect your voice, your mind. That mind: creating new thoughts, new expressions. I envy, I worship. I want. ‘I want your thoughts as my own. I want them before they have formed as yours.’
Too late, too late. You remain one step advanced, two, three. You’re running ahead of me, and I can’t keep up. You’ve collected your broken words before I can shatter them. You’ve built poetry from the pieces, something new.
I cling to you, an opposite who wants to find a different self reflected within your sight. You: young, beautiful, gifted, innocently reckless because you can be, because you are. You live and breathe your art, there is no greater sustenance. Me: older, no possessor of beauty, my gifts floating beneath the surface of your brilliant depths. Deliberately reckless because I cannot be. I live and breathe you. There is no greater sustenance.
And yet I can sustain you by material means. I feed, clothe, give shelter, give my body. You take these things, entitled. You need them, yes you need them, but only as an afterthought; only as those things which prolong your art. You live an inverted life, the requirements of your mind soaring above all else. You do not feel the base value in the foundation I give. I feel nothing other. You’ve stolen me from what life I had before. But it wasn’t life, it was existence. You are the pinnacle, you tempt me higher. I‘ve left all else behind.
And so I say, ‘Take me, I give all to you.’ You say ‘Yes’ and take my flesh. How could I have thought you wouldn’t. I don’t understand; I can’t see beyond, see into your genius. One step, two, three. You leave me with this stigmata held in my palm, imprinted by you. I am the canvas, you are the artist.
You do feel something; perhaps not for me, but connected to me. Not guilt, not contrition. You are aroused, inspired, and I offer myself again as a blank surface, paper and ink to record your exploits with brutal honesty. You fuck me and I make love, turning your meaning into something other. I take your naked candor and twist it to my own purpose, making you love me. Pierce me with your blunted instrument, and I feel adoration. Stolen art.
I try to make sense of it, try to maintain balance for both of us. My neglected needs tip the scale. I am a monster, no longer human; I turn my unheeded desires onto others, make them suffer what I refuse to feel. I turn on myself, suffer both our sins. You are fluidity, eternal purity, I am the vessel of our transgressions. O supreme Clarion, assault me with your reed-like beauty swaying crudely delicate, sweetly fatal. A deceptive lover.
Stolen art: my confession. You tried to take your illumination away, I tried to take away the instrument of your interpretation. Perhaps a different hand could have delivered you into mine: three, two, one, and I become your instrument, indispensible once more. We could have been content, together connected, intertwined; I the surface and the ink, you the muse. Wrong hand, wrong ending. I rewrote our lives.
Lover, your mark was my undoing and we paid for my impudence. Paid with florid leaves stripped from our boughs: a hand, a leg, a freedom, two passions—yours of brilliance, mine of ardor. I pulled you apart, stilled your voice, your mind. My devotion remains, and I protect what I can of your words. I go about picking them up, a you here, a me there. I restore your thoughts, give them back. Were it not for you, I could be lost, forgotten. My art is your preservation. Your art is mine.
© 2012 Copyright by Ryal Woods. All rights reserved.
(Like I need to worry, but after everything I just said, y’know. My paranoia runs deep.)