It seems as if a stage has been set in our conversation. I’m reminded of the master of all stage setting, Charles Chaplin, and specifically The Gold Rush. Seldom has there been a more delicate balance between humor and pathos.
Yesterday I was talking to children of Holocaust survivors. They, being older than myself and now in their late 60s, are considered what Eva Hoffman calls “second generation witnesses.” As children they received the emotional consequences of the extreme experiences of their parents. It wasn’t a processed, orderly passing on of knowledge It was signs and eruptions of raw, splintered suffering, ever present in the privacy of their families.
One could say that these children are the unfiltered recipients of their parents’ trauma, their first imaginings and experiences bearing a complex burden of information and emotion. A transmitted identification with parental feelings and burdens. The difficulties inherited by the second generation was not the experience itself, but its shadows.
A stage has been set I think. For the moment it is empty, as if leveled by a nuclear blast, yet fraught with expectations and filled with memories. Expectations in the eyes of the audience, who look greedily at what is about to happen, their eyes clouded by the flickering images of their memories.
The the artist creates work as if it were a chrysalis, placing meaning inside, and leaving it to others to nurture and hatch: the dragonfly, the moth, the butterfly, or the all-devouring, gorging locust.