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August 7, 2015

Eugène Green /// The Baroque

From an interview with Francesca Isidori of France Culture’s Affinités electives, 24 October 2004:

My interest in the Baroque was primarily an existential interest, it had to do with my existence—my existence as a man of the 20th and 21st centuries—and also with my desire to create, to find meaning in life through making art. And so this interest in the Baroque helped me because… I realized that during the 17th century (that is, during the Baroque), that there was a crisis of civilization and that this crisis has never really been resolved, and I… I think in fact most people are still living through this crisis, only they aren’t conscious of it, and I—for reasons I can’t explain, maybe because of experiences in my early childhood—I was very conscious of this crisis, I lived through it on a daily basis… The crisis originated in part from the development of [Enlightenment] thought in the 17th century, which tended to promote a purely rational, purely mechanical model of the universe, and which therefore did away with the necessity of the sacred—or so it appeared.  And yet man in the 17th century held on to his need for sacred things, and so he resigned himself to living in what I would call a permanent oxymoronic state… So, [an oxymoron] is a rhetorical device from the Baroque—well, it goes even further back than the Baroque but it was a very highly regarded rhetorical device during the Baroque—what an oxymoron does is bring together two terms which reason considers contradictory in order to create an expression that, in fact, expresses a truth…  So an oxymoron is the co-existence of two opposites, two contradictory truths, both of which are true but which co-exist and, in principle, refute one another.  And that’s what most fascinated me about the Baroque.  And so, essentially, in everything I do—in writing, in poetry or novels, or in essays, and particularly in films—I always have the impression that I’m assuming this condition, of man in the Baroque, constantly living two contradictory truths, and refusing to choose between them…

(Translated from the French by Louis Cancelmi)


EG’s baroque vision, in action:

More on Green’s 2004 film, Le Pont des Arts.

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