Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Where are the Kharmists?

I continue to read Daniil Kharms writings. The excellent preface by Matvei Yankelevich (who also translated the book and is founding editor of Ugly Duckling Presse), devotes a fair number of lines to discussing Kharms' father. It seems he was imprisoned in a work camp after a failed attempt to overthrow Alexander III; it was during his imprisonment that he became something of a mystic. Though I've yet to detect anything in Kharms' words that might suggest an inheritance of his father's mysticism, I am convinced that most of his prose poems are more like (religious) parables than anything else. They generally involve short-term conflicts followed by immediate consequences. Of course, religious parables (especially those that are biblical), tend to be woven together by way of reinforcing a similar moral logic. Kharms' parables also seem be held together by way of subverting the logic of narrative. 

"EVENTS" by Daniil Kharms

"One day Orlov stuffed himself with mashed peas and died. Krylov, having heard the news, also died. And Spiridonov died regardless. And Spiridonov's wife fell from the cupboard and also died. And the Spiridonov children drowned in a pond. Spiridonov's grandmother took the bottle and wandered the highways. And Mikhailov stopped combing his hair and came down with mange. And Kruglov sketched a lady holding a whip and went mad. And Perekhryostov received four hundred rubles wired over the telegraph and was so uppity about it that he was forced to leave his job.
All good people but they don't know how to hold their ground."


Katrina said...

hello remy. your website looks super. very exciting to see your letterpress / typography/ printmaking work continue from coast to coast. and welcome to the strange and wonderful blogosphere.

Mashinka said...

My favourite work of Kharms's will necessarily always remain - largely out of sentimentality and nostalgia - the prose piece about the limbless and headless man, used to teach the genitive case to Slavic students in university. I'm now curious as to what this might be a parable for.

stake said...

this is an old post. in fact its the first one.


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