Friday, 19 June 2009

Rotterdam 4

Festivals are holes in time, a series of electrified hours between periods of stupor and socialising. We must be grateful, indeed we are grateful, flattered to be considered worthy of international attention. My big photograph is currently gazing out over the big square along with big photographs of others. There is my studious-looking mug, like an actor or politician, dictator of dithyrambs, commissar of canzoni, president of pentameters.

And all this is, of course, faintly ludicrous but then you hear something you haven't heard before or touch base with something that seems fundamental. There is the spectacular, the full-throated, the elegiac, the contemplative, the martial, the enigmatic, the playful (Jacques Roubaud, twinkly and grand and dark). My personal favourite is still the steady clarity of Umberto Fiori, but then Umberto has been used to playing to big venues in his prog-rock days, so his stillness seems that much more found, fought for, assured, more starkly humane in him. He has done with mobs and hysteria. I think the readings with music and ritual are magical, powerful and indeed moving, but retain an element of showbiz for me. I don't for one moment believe that it is exploitative, only that, temperamentally, it misses something important. The big delivery, the emotional gesture, the rhetoric of moral certainty, however framed in human terms, move me less than words quietly spoken, when those words seem, for a while at least, to be all that hold the whole fragile world in place.

Late again. Tomorrow is the last day and I should have a free morning. I could do some more walking or get on with necessary work.

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