I’d previously posted an excerpt of this lecture, but this recording is a treat for any fans of Nick Cave’s work or songwriting in general.
“Like every child I built emotional bridges in the imagination to link me to the world and to other people. I lived in a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, in an old dilapidated house that had a jungle-like garden and a great room full of books. First games and first lessons. The garden soon became the centre of my world; the library, an enchanted cave. I used to read and play with my cousins and schoolmates. There was a fig tree, temple of vegetation, four pine trees, three ash trees, a nightshade, a pomegranate tree, wild grass and prickly plants that produced purple grazes. Adobe walls. Time was elastic; space was a spinning wheel. All time, past or future, real or imaginary, was pure presence. Space transformed itself ceaselessly. The beyond was here, all was here: a valley, a mountain, a distant country, the neighbours’ patio. Books with pictures, especially history books, eagerly leafed through, supplied images of deserts and jungles, palaces and hovels, warriors and princesses, beggars and kings. We were shipwrecked with Sinbad and with Robinson, we fought with d’Artagnan, we took Valencia with the Cid. How I would have liked to stay forever on the Isle of Calypso! In summer the green branches of the fig tree would sway like the sails of a caravel or a pirate ship. High up on the mast, swept by the wind, I could make out islands and continents, lands that vanished as soon as they became tangible. The world was limitless yet it was always within reach; time was a pliable substance that weaved an unbroken present.”
– Octavio Paz, Nobel Prize Lecture (1990)
“We all experience within us what the Portuguese call “saudade”, an inexplicable longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul, and it is this feeling that lives in the realms of imagination and inspiration, and is the breeding ground for the sad song, for the love song. Saudade is the desire to be transported from darkness into light, to be touched by the hand of that which is not of this world. The love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting up though our wounds.
In his brilliant lecture, The Theory And Function Of Duende, Federico Garcia Lorca attempts to shed some light on the eerie and inexplicable sadness that lives at the heart of certain works of art. “All that has dark sounds has ‘duende’,” he says, “that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain.” Contemporary rock music seems less inclined to have at its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that Lorca talks about. Excitement, often, anger, sometimes – but true sadness, rarely. Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically with it. It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and, though he tries to, he cannot escape it. Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. My friends The Dirty 3 have it by the bucketload. But, all in all, it would appear that the duende is too fragile to survive the compulsive modernity of the music industry. In the hysterical technocracy of modern music, sorrow is sent to the back of the class, where it sits, pissing its pants in mortal terror. Duende, needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. I feel sorry for sadness, as we jump all over it, denying its voice and muscling it into the outer reaches. No wonder sorrow doesn’t smile much. No wonder sadness is so sad.”
(Thank you Eduardo)