Cosmic Vibrations in Cezanne

Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L’Estaque” (c.1885) – Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) – oil on canvas, 28.7 ins. x 39.5 ins., in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Cézanne’s Ports

In the foreground we see time and life
swept in a race
toward the left hand side of the picture
where shore meets shore.
But that meeting place
isn’t represented;
it doesn’t occur on the canvas.
For the other side of the bay
is Heaven and Eternity,
with a bleak white haze over its mountains.
And the immense water of L’Estaque is a go-between
for minute rowboats.

Allen to Lionel Trilling, New York, Columbia University, June 1948:

“Also, I must tell you about St. Shapiro (Meyer Schapiro). I finally took a course with him as you suggested a few years ago. I don’t know anything about fine art and sat terrified in the front row, smiling to hear the sweetness of his discourse. I was also afraid to write his papers, but I couldn’t evade the examination, for which I studied at the last moment, and I wrote him a wild sleepless book. I saw him the same afternoon to try to explain what I had meant there, though he hadn’t read it yet, and held forth frantically on some mad idea about Cosmic Vibrations in Cézanne  and we parted, I suspect, mutually baffled. This morning I got a marvelous letter from him complimenting me on the exam and chiding me for not writing the term paper…”

His (Cézanne ‘s), Bill Morgan writes, in I Celebrate Myself – The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg,  were “the first works of art in which Allen was aware of the mind of a living, intelligent person behind them. Until then, (he) had viewed artworks as objects of beauty, but the mental acumen of Cézanne  himself was transmitted through his paintings in a way (he) had never before experienced”

“Need a significant jump of change, Time, or experience to reveal, as Cezanne says, the Petit Sensation, Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus great gap of change..”, Allen writes in his Journal, June 1955

“The parallel between Cézanne ‘s theory and poetry theory – to present to the mind’s eye two equally strong images without editorial or rhetorical connection – same as without traditional perspective lines, for the effect of the juxtaposition: the resulting pun or ellipses of Space. The problem is to learn to speak Cézanne ‘s language of color & space, to see what he is creating, what relationships he is drawing between planes, and how.”

regarding “Howl”, in the famous Letter to Richard Eberhart, of the following year:
“I have noticed that the unspoken visual-verbal flow inside the mind has great rhythm and have approached the problem of strophe, line and stanza and measure by listening and transcribing to a great extent) the coherent mental flow. Taking that for the model for form, as Cézanne  took Nature.”

“The latter parts of the first section (thus) set forth a “formal” esthetic derived in part incidentally from my master who is Cezanne” [sic]

” – who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus”. (from “Howl”)

From his Journals, May/June 1961:
“Yesterday in Aix comparing postcard Cézanne  reproduction with Saint-Victoire and measuring each brushstroke to a geological epoch. Went to Avenue Paul-Cézanne  & stole into his studio – the cracked white hat &; green cloak – (modeled in photos &; paintings) – his skulls &; thighbone-rosary-wooden puppet in a drawer – his easel & palette & the shining slippery polished wood floor of the vast room..
Then..up to Vauves hill to see Sainte-Victoire a new housing project annihilating the old point of view from which Cezanne saw the Mountain’s south face steeper than at Chateau Noir”.

Cezanne, Allen’s “master”. He addresses all these things and the nature of the relationship in considerable detail in the must-read Paris Review interview – see here

Interviewer (Tom Clark): “You once mentioned something you found in Cézanne – a remark about the reconstitution of the petite sensations of experience, in his own painting – and you compared this with the method of your poetry.
Allen: I got all hung up on Cézanne around 1949 in my last year at Columbia studying with Meyer Shapiro. I don’t know how it led into..I think it was about the same time that I was having these Blake visions..

“I was looking at Cézanne  and I suddenly got a strange shuddering impression looking at his canvases…Partly it’s when the canvas opens up into three dimensions and looks like wooden objects, like solid-space objects in three dimensions rather than flat. Partly it’s the enormous spaces that open up in Cézanne ‘s landscapes…”

Cézanne  “shuffled off his mortal coil” on this day – October 22, 1906.

Coincidentally (coincidentally?) today is also the anniversary of the birth of Timothy Leary.

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