Dấu Nước


Dấu Nước

Và trộn vào giấc mơ tuổi thơ, là cơn mộng đời rực rỡ. Sẽ trở thành nhà văn. Sẽ viết một truyện dài nối liền được hai thành phố.
NQT: Lần Cuối Sài Gòn

Brodsky có lẽ cũng có một giấc mơ như vậy, và ông đặt tên cho nó là "Thuỷ Ấn", hay nôm na, "Dấu Nước", Watermark.
Đây là một từ chuyên môn. Bạn cầm một tờ giấy [tác phẩm] nhìn, hay đọc, không thấy, nhưng soi lên ánh sáng, thì nó hiện ra.
Trong Thủy Ấn, Brodsky viết về lần ông thăm viếng Venice, thành phố ở trên nước. Nhưng đọc nó, thì lại ra Petersburg, thành phố quê hương của ông.
"Đối với người cùng quê với tôi, thành phố hiện ra, qua những trang này, thật dễ nhận, và cảm thấy, đây chính là Petersburg được nới rộng ra, mời gọi vào trong một lịch sử [một câu chuyện] tốt đẹp hơn, khoan nói tới vĩ độ, not to mention latitude."

Làm sao viết về Sài Gòn, mà "soi lên" thì lại ra.. Hà Nội, hả.... Gấu?
Khoan nói tới vĩ độ? Không lẽ Brodsky không muốn nói tới vĩ độ thứ... 17?

Dấu Nước còn làm nhớ tới Dấu Bèo. Đài Gương soi đến Dấu Bèo này chăng?
Nhưng đâu là Đài Gương, đâu là Dấu Bèo? Đâu là Sài Gòn, đâu là Hà Nội?
Hỏi như vậy, ấy là bởi vì Gấu, trong một lần ghé xóm, nhân ghé Hà Nội, một em, khi nghe Gấu giở giọng pha tạp chẳng ra nam mà cũng chẳng ra bắc, để làm quen, trước khi làm tình, đã bĩu môi, "chửi xỏ":
-Anh là một thằng Nam Kỳ mà lại bắt chước giọng Bắc Kỳ của... chúng em!
Giọng của em có vẻ bực bội, như có ý trách, sao có thằng ngu, học gì không học, lại học cái trò giả dạng nói tiếng bắc!
Câu mở ra Dấu Nước, của Brodsky:
Nhiều trăng rồi, đô Mẽo 870 lire và tôi thì ba mươi hai.
[Many moons ago the dollar was 870 lire and I was thirty-two].

Nhiều trăng rồi, khi Gấu đi, mới mười bẩy, về, trên sáu muơi.
Và lần "đi" và bị em chửi xỏ, là năm trăm ngàn!
Năm chục đô Canada!
Nhiều trăng rồi....

Hồi ở Hà Nội, Gấu khù khờ lắm.
Nhân đọc bài viết của ông bạn Kiệt Tấn, SCTBT, trên talawas, Gấu chợt nhớ ra, là, người dậy Gấu may tay, là một ông cậu. Cậu H. Khi Gấu ở Bạch Mai, những ngày đầu từ nhà quê ra Hà Nội học.



World Enough Outside 

Reading Joseph Brodsky's Watermark in Venice 


In 1992, Joseph Brodsky published Watermark, a book-length essay that brings together his impressions of Venice in winter - he refused to go there in any other season - and a series of powerful and moving meditations on the writer's vocation. A lifelong Brodsky fan, I had read Watermark several times since then, but never, until recently, in Venice itself. This June, over twenty years after his death in 1996, sitting outside a cafe near the Ospedale, I read again the passage in which he describes how 'being sidetracked is literally a matter of course' in this city of echoes and water. I found myself sidetracked too, not by a glint of light off the canal or by an echo, but by a sudden lull. I looked up from the page to see a small funeral procession crossing the lagoon, headed by a lugubre gondola, presumably making its way to the cemetery island of San Michele, where I intended to spend that very afternoon, visiting the graves of Stravinsky, Diaghilev and Brodsky himself.
For Brodsky, Venice was a winter city of cold water and colder stone, where we are constantly haunted by our own reflections. But it seems to me that, amid these reflections, the angels are never very far away. I am not talking about the painted ones, much less those carved in marble; I mean the commonplace angels of folklore and everyday life, those fleeting and indifferent spirits who pass through a gap in conversation, or that more personal Geist who hovers at my back when I am obliged to stop and catch my breath, overcome by the heat in some sun-blanked campo I have never seen before, though I have spent a good few summers wandering this city, trying to stitch together the several maps that have formed, as fragments, in my memory. The result of all this sidetracking, according to Brodsky, is a wry form of liberta negativa: 'After a two-week stay - even at off-season rates - you become both broke and selfless, like a Buddhist monk. At a certain age and in a certain line of work, selflessness is welcome, not to say imperative.'
This remark seems to capture the essence of Brodsky's work. I once spent several hours in his company, back in the 1970s, an evening throughout which he was extraordinarily kind to me, an unknown and utterly incompetent young poet. He was the only writer from whom I have ever taken advice, not about form or subject matter and not, I hope it goes without saying, about 'how to get published', but with regard to the honor of the writer's vocation, and the responsibility to the world that pertains to those who use language. The bare fact is that he encouraged me, a long time ago, for no reason. Watermark is full of encouragement, especially about the power of the aesthetic: for example, noting the dangers posed by developers to a city that is, in itself, a work of art, Brodsky laments that 'nothing has a greater future than money', only to add, a few pages later, that 'beauty, a fait accompli by definition, always defies the future, regarding it as nothing so much as an overblown, impotent present'.
Much has been said and written about the 'bravery' of certain contemporary writers, most frequently for marketing reasons, but Brodsky was genuinely a courageous man, and not just in his resistance to the Soviet regime (asked by the judge at his trial, 'Who has enrolled you in the ranks of poets?', he replied, 'No one. Who has enrolled me in the ranks of the human race?'). Speaking of those winter sojourns in Venice, which allowed him to escape his academic day job each year to 'write a couple of poems, provided I could be that lucky', he says, 'Happiness or unhappiness would simply come ... It is a virtue, I came to believe long ago, not to make a meal out of one's emotional life. There's always enough work to do, not to mention that there's world enough outside.' It takes not just courage but a certain hard-won wisdom to trust oneself so thoroughly to a vocation, but Brodsky is adamant that 'aesthetic sense is the twin of one's instinct for self-preservation and is more reliable than ethics'.
I think what he means by this is that, while ethics involves a process of deliberation and action, the aesthetic sense is 'autonomous'. We trust to the aesthetic because there is 'world enough outside', and it is the world beyond the self - in this book, the city of Venice - that matters. Watermark opens with a Proustian recollection of freezing seaweed and ends with a moving anecdote about W H Auden in old age; there is no doubt that the mood throughout is stoical. Yet its closing sentence declares that 'one's love ... is greater than oneself'.
Reading it during a Venice June, I could not help wishing that Brodsky had overcome his dislike of the 'shorts-clad herds' to spend a few weeks here in the summer, when proximity to the water has a somewhat different effect than at other times of year. True, as in winter, the eye dwells constantly on the play of light and shade on the lagoon, but there is also something else at work, a finer attunement of the nervous system to every movement and ripple and dunt in the greater environment, as if the body has temporarily developed its own linea lateralis, the invisible, tender radar that fish use to monitor their home element.
That receptivity comes often in summer - as it did one afternoon, at a garden party on Torcello, far from the 'unmitigated emissions of hydrocarbons and armpits' of the Rialto. There, on yet another sidetrack, I found myself standing alone at the edge of my host's garden, scanning the reed beds and the open water beyond in the hope of glimpsing a stork or a passing tern. The rest of the party had gathered around the drinks table on the far side of the lawn. Almost alone for a moment, I remembered my brief stint as an outfielder for the most dismal cricket team in Northamptonshire, and the surprising pleasure of being closer to the long grass than to the wicket, always on the point of turning and walking away, but sufficiently well disposed to remain where I was, shaded by the sycamore that bounded our sports field. Now, on one side of the garden, just so far, and no further, from the others, I was implicated in the intricate system that extends far and wide over this city of water, a matrix of awareness woven into the reed beds or hanging latent in the narrowest canals, in which the sudden rush of a speedboat passing the Arsenale or the slow progress of a lugubre gondola registers as a ripple, shivering across the lagoon for miles - and I remembered again Brodsky's elegant closing passage, where he reminds us that 'we go and beauty stays. Because we are headed for the future, while beauty is the eternal present.' +
Literary Review September 2018

Monde assez dehors

Lecture du filigrane de Joseph Brodsky à Venise

En 1992, Joseph Brodsky publia Watermark, un essai de longueur d'un livre qui rassemble ses impressions de Venise en hiver - il refusa d'y aller toute autre saison - et une série de méditations puissantes et émouvantes sur la vocation de l'écrivain. Fan de longue date de Brodsky, j'avais lu Watermark plusieurs fois depuis, mais jamais jusqu'à récemment à Venise. En juin dernier, plus de vingt ans après sa mort en 1996, assis devant un café près de l'Ospedale, j'ai relu le passage dans lequel il décrit comment «se laisser détourner est littéralement une chose évidente» dans cette ville aux échos et à l'eau. Je me suis aussi laissé distraire, non pas par une lueur de lumière du canal ou par un écho, mais par une accalmie soudaine. Je levai les yeux de la page pour voir un petit cortège funèbre traversant le lagon, dirigé par une gondole de lugubre, se dirigeant probablement vers l'île cimetière de San Michele, où j'avais l'intention de passer l'après-midi même, à visiter les tombes de Stravinsky, Diaghilev et Brodsky lui-même.
Pour Brodsky, Venise était une ville d’hiver aux eaux froides et aux pierres plus froides, où nos réflexions nous hantaient constamment. Mais il me semble que, parmi ces réflexions, les anges ne sont jamais très loin. Je ne parle pas des peintures, encore moins de celles du marbre; Je veux parler des anges ordinaires du folklore et de la vie quotidienne, de ces esprits fugitifs et indifférents qui traversent une interruption de conversation ou de ce Geist plus personnel qui plane dans mon dos quand je suis obligé de m'arrêter et de reprendre mon souffle, submergé par la chaleur un campo éclairé par le soleil que je n’ai jamais vu auparavant, même si j’ai passé quelques étés à errer dans cette ville, essayant de broder ensemble plusieurs cartes qui se sont formées, par fragments, dans ma mémoire. Selon Brodsky, le résultat de tout ce détournement est une forme tordue de liberta negativa: «Après un séjour de deux semaines - même à des taux hors saison - vous devenez à la fois fauché et désintéressé, comme un moine bouddhiste. À un certain âge et dans un certain travail, le désintéressement est le bienvenu, pour ne pas dire l'impératif. '
Cette remarque semble capturer l'essence du travail de Brodsky. Une fois, j'ai passé plusieurs heures dans sa compagnie, dans les années 1970, une soirée au cours de laquelle il a été extraordinairement gentil avec moi, un jeune poète inconnu et totalement incompétent. C’était le seul écrivain à qui j’ai pris conseil, pas sur la forme ni sur le sujet et non, je l’espère, sur «comment se faire publier», mais sur l’honneur de la vocation de l’écrivain, et responsabilité envers le monde qui concerne ceux qui utilisent la langue. Le fait est qu'il m'a encouragé il y a longtemps sans raison. Watermark est plein d'encouragements, notamment en ce qui concerne le pouvoir de l'esthétique: notant par exemple les dangers que représentent les développeurs pour une ville qui est en soi une œuvre d'art, Brodsky déplore que "rien n'a un avenir plus grand que l'argent", Quelques pages plus tard, j’ajoute que «la beauté, un fait accompli par définition, défie toujours l’avenir et ne le considère que comme un présent exagéré et impuissant».
Beaucoup a été dit et écrit sur la «bravoure» de certains écrivains contemporains, le plus souvent pour des raisons de marketing, mais Brodsky était véritablement un homme courageux, et pas seulement dans sa résistance au régime soviétique (demandé par le juge lors de son procès, ' Qui vous a inscrit dans les rangs des poètes? ", A-t-il répondu," Personne. Qui m'a inscrit dans les rangs de la race humaine? "). Parlant de ses séjours hivernaux à Venise, qui lui ont permis d'échapper chaque année à son travail universitaire pour «écrire quelques poèmes, à condition que je puisse être aussi chanceux», dit-il, «le bonheur ou le malheur viendraient tout simplement ... C'est Il y a longtemps que je croyais que c'était une vertu de ne pas faire un repas de sa vie émotionnelle. Il y a toujours assez de travail à faire, sans oublier qu'il y a suffisamment de monde à l'extérieur. Il faut non seulement du courage, mais une certaine sagesse durement acquise pour se confier si profondément à une vocation, mais Brodsky est catégorique: le sens esthétique est le jumeau de son instinct de préservation et est plus fiable que l'éthique.
Je pense que ce qu’il entend par là, c’est que, si l’éthique implique un processus de délibération et d’action, le sens esthétique est «autonome». Nous faisons confiance à l'esthétique car il y a «suffisamment de monde à l'extérieur», et c'est le monde au-delà de soi-même - dans ce livre, la ville de Venise - qui compte. Watermark commence par un souvenir proustien d’algues glacées et se termine par une anecdote émouvante sur W H Auden dans sa vieillesse; il ne fait aucun doute que l'ambiance est stoïque. Pourtant, sa phrase de clôture déclare que "l'amour est ... plus grand que soi".
En le lisant à Venise en juin, je ne pouvais pas m'empêcher de souhaiter que Brodsky surmonte son aversion pour les «troupeaux vêtus de shorts» pour passer quelques semaines ici en été, lorsque la proximité de l'eau a un effet quelque peu différent de celui d'autres fois. de l'année. Certes, comme en hiver, les yeux jouent constamment sur les jeux d’ombre et de lumière sur le lagon, mais il y a aussi quelque chose d’autre à l’œuvre, une harmonisation plus fine du système nerveux avec chaque mouvement et des ondulations et des ralentissements dans le grand environnement, comme si le corps a développé temporairement sa propre ligne latérale, le radar invisible et tendre que les poissons utilisent pour surveiller leur élément d'origine.
Cette réceptivité arrive souvent en été - comme ce fut le cas un après-midi, lors d'une fête champêtre à Torcello, loin des «émissions non atténuées d'hydrocarbures et d'aisselles» du Rialto. Là encore, je me retrouvai seul, au bord du jardin de mon hôte, scrutant les roselières et les étendues d'eau au-delà dans l'espoir d'apercevoir une cigogne ou un sterne qui passait. Le reste de la fête s'était réuni autour de la table des boissons de l'autre côté de la pelouse. Presque seul pendant un moment, je me suis souvenu de mon bref passage en tant que joueur de l’équipe de cricket la plus maussade de Northamptonshire, et du plaisir surprenant d’être plus près de la longue herbe que du guichet, toujours sur le point de tourner et de s’éloigner, mais suffisamment bien disposés pour rester là où j'étais, à l'ombre du sycomore qui bordait notre terrain de sport. Maintenant, d’un côté du jardin, jusqu’à présent, et pas plus loin des autres, j’ai été impliqué dans le système complexe qui s’étend au-delà de cette ville d’eau, une matrice de conscience tissée dans les roseaux ou suspendue latent dans les canaux les plus étroits, dans lesquels la poussée soudaine d'un hors-bord franchissant l'Arsenale ou la lenteur d'une télécabine de lugubre se présente comme une ondulation, frissonnant à travers la lagune sur des kilomètres - et je me souvins encore de l'élégant passage de Brodsky, où il nous rappelle que nous allons et la beauté reste. Parce que nous nous dirigeons vers l'avenir, alors que la beauté est l'éternel présent. ' +

Watermark: An Essay on Venice by Joseph Brodsky – review 


Memory, death, love, beauty, dreams – Brodsky touches on all of these in this wonderfully evocative book
The poet Joseph Brodsky was born in Leningrad in 1940 and expelled from his homeland in 1972, after which he settled in the US. Perhaps it was his memories of the canals of the city of his birth that made him keep returning to Venice. He first visited aged 32, and by the time he wrote Watermark in 1989 he had stayed in the city 17 times, always in December. He explains that at New Year's Eve he always longed to be near water, to see "a wave hitting the shore at midnight. That, to me, is time coming out of water". This essay is Brodsky's brief yet memorable paean to this city of water, the city that came closest to his notion of Eden. It is, he says, "the greatest masterpiece our species produced". He describes its atmosphere as "part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers" and the canal-side facades as like "upright lace". In a palazzo he is struck by how decay makes time tangible: "every surface craves dust, for dust is the flesh of time". Memory, death, love, beauty, dreams – Brodsky touches on all of these in this wonderfully evocative and uniquely beautiful book.

Joseph Brodsky



Excerpt from Watermark

I always adhered to the idea that God is time, or at least that His spirit is. Perhaps this idea was even of my own manufacture, but now I don’t remember. In any case, I always thought that if the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water, the water was bound to reflect it. Hence my sentiment for water, for its folds, wrinkles, and ripples, and – as I am a Northerner – for its grayness. I simply think that water is the image of time, and every New Year’s Eve, in somewhat pagan fashion, I try to find myself near water, preferably near a sea or an ocean, to watch the emergence of a new helping, a new cupful of time from it. I am not looking for a naked maiden riding on a shell; I am looking for either a cloud or the crest of a wave hitting the shore at midnight. That, to me, is time coming out of water, and I stare at the lace-like pattern it puts on the shore, not with a gypsy-like knowing, but with tenderness and with gratitude.
This is the way, and in my case the why, I set my eyes on this city. There is nothing Freudian to this fantasy, or specifically chordate, although some evolutionary – if not plainly atavistic – or autobiographical connection could no doubt be established between the pattern a wave leaves upon the sand and its scrutiny by a descendant of the ichthyosaur, and a monster himself. The upright lace of Venetian façades is the best line time-alias-water has left on terra firma anywhere. Plus, there is no doubt a correspondence between – if not an outright dependence on – the rectangular nature of that lace’s displays – i.e., local buildings – and the anarchy of water that spurns the notion of shape. It is as though space, cognizant here more than anyplace else of its inferiority to time, answers it with the only property time doesn’t possess: with beauty. And that’s why water takes this answer, twists it, wallops and shreds it, but ultimately carries it by and large intact off into the Adriatic.
The eye in this city acquires an autonomy similar to that of a tear. The only difference is that it doesn’t sever itself from the body but subordinates it totally. After a while – on the third or fourth day here – the body starts to regard itself as merely the eye’s carrier, as a kind of submarine to its now dilating, now squinting periscope. Of course, for all its targets, its explosions are invariably self-inflicted: it’s your own heart, or else your mind, that sinks; the eye pops up to the surface. This of course owes to the local topography, to the streets – narrow, meandering like eels – that finally bring you to a flounder of a campo with a cathedral in the middle of it, barnacled with saints and flaunting its Medusa-like cupolas. No matter what you set out for as you leave the house here, you are bound to get lost in these long, coiling lanes and passageways that beguile you to see them through, to follow them to their elusive end, which usually hits water, so that you can’t even call it a cul-de-sac. On the map this city looks like two grilled fish sharing a plate, or perhaps like two nearly overlapping lobster claws (Pasternak compared it to a swollen croissant); but it has no north, south, east, or west; the only direction it has is sideways. It surrounds you like frozen seaweed, and the more you dart and dash about trying to get your bearings, the more you get lost. The yellow arrow signs at intersections are not much help either, for they, too, curve. In fact, they don’t so much help you as kelp you. And in the fluently flapping hand of the native whom you stop to ask for directions, the eye, oblivious to his sputtering A destra, a sinistra, dritto, dritto, readily discerns a fish.
Excerpt from WATERMARK by Joseph Brodsky.
Copyright © 1992 by Joseph Brodsky.
Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
CAUTION: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.


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