Saturday, 30 June 2012

Edvard Munch's Madonna

A few days ago I ordered a cheap print of Edvard Munch's Madonna and today it came in the post. I took some time getting it out of the cardboard tube, relishing the potential creative inspiration it would give me. I thought that my thoughts on seeing the poster would be, like the painting, divine, pure and honest on one hand and modern, willful, strange and passionate on the other. But when I unrolled the Madonna I thought first of Madonna, the singer, and this made me think of the music video of hers which involves a bullfight, and this made me think of Hemingway, writing his balls off about bullfighting, and Hemingway made me thing about the Deux Magots, where he did a great deal of writing, and this in turn made me think about my impending trip to Paris, which I am looking forward to but am also somewhat apprehensive about because it will cost me a lot of money and I haven't got a lot of money - I am essentially poor, certainly too poor to make a habit of buying art prints just so that I can look to them for inspiration.

The Poet Geoffrey Hill and the Poet Jeremy Prynne

In a city - let's say Cambridge; in fact, let's pick somewhere more neutral, Coventry for example - the supporters of the poet J.H. Prynne decided to erect a giant statue of their hero, a statue that would dwarf the city's cathedral, a bronze statue with a high forehead and an unfathomably muscular torso. Of course, when the supporters of the poet Geoffrey Hill heard about this they decided to erect a similar statue, also in Coventry, to match the gigantic statue of the poet J.H. Prynne. The tall statues faced each other over this cowering city that had been destroyed and rebuilt comparatively recently. The opposing factions were proud of their statues, but they were also envious of each other. Of course, arguments broke out, then the odd limp-wristed skirmish, and after a while, without knowing how it had happened, the two groups of poetry-lovers discovered that they were officially at war. Nothing happened for a while, but what could have happened was this: a renowned wise man - the type that still existed in the Midlands at the turn of the century - came to the city and called a meeting between the leaders of the two groups. In his wisdom he told them to give up on their bitterness and envy and learn to like, or at least to appreciate, or at the very least to respect, the poetry of the opposition. Of course, the berserk captains of the factions fell upon him and destroyed him as he attempted to leave the cathedral. Their bloodlust was sated; they forgot their poetry and went back to teaching creative writing classes. But that didn't happen. The war is still going on, though no-one has yet died. On the upturned palm of the poet Geoffrey Hill sits a sniper, his rifle trained through a crack in the poet Geoffrey Hill's fingers onto a spot somewhere on the poet J.H. Prynne's groin, where it is believed there is a secret door, behind which the supporters of the poet J.H. Prynne are said to be hatching a plot, although no-one knows what this plot might be.