el duende

From: scerir (scerir@libero.it)
Date: Wed Dec 26 2001 - 07:38:01 MST

El duende. Does it exist? Perhaps. And 'where' is it?
Is it an attractor? Is it a useful hypothesis?
Something to do with non-computability (1) of
Kolmogorov complexity (2)? Was Nietzsche in search
of duende?

Federico Garcia Lorca wrote (3, 4) in ŒTeoria y Juego
del Duendeš, ŒPlay and Theory of Duendeš, Madrid, 1933,
that every man, and every artist, climbs each step,
in the tower of his perfection, by fighting his duende,
not his angel, nor his muse. Because angels and muses
escape with violin, meter, and compass: the duende wounds.

But there are neither maps, nor disciplines, to help us
find the duende. The duende lives in the remotest mansions
of the blood. We only know that he burns the blood like
a poultice of broken glass, that he rejects all the
geometry we have learned, that he smashes styles.
With idea, sound or gesture, the duende 'enjoys'
fighting the creator on the very rim of the well.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives, for duende:
ghost, evil spirit, inspiration, magic, fire.
But this old term was also used by Andalusians (and
Calderňn de la Barca) to describe artists (or women)
whose music, or dance, (or spirit), was especially
inspired: Œthis has much duendeš. 'The most elusive
word in the Spanish language is duende. Like a breeze
or moonlight, it is more easily experienced than
explained' wrote Rod Usher.

Garcia Lorca reports what Goethe, speaking about
Paganini performing concerts, once (perhaps) said:
<mysterious power which everyone senses and no
philosopher explains>.

'This <mysterious power which everyone senses and not
philosopher explains> is, in sum, the spirit of the earth,
the same duende that scorched the heart of Nietzsche, who
searched in vain for its external forms on the Rialto
Bridge and in the music of Bizet, without knowing that
the duende he was pursuing had leaped straight from the
Greek mysteries to the dancers of Cadiz (...)'.

'El duende ... Where is el duende? Through the empty
arch comes a wind, a mental wind blowing relentlessly
over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes
and unknown accents; a wind that smells of child's spittle,
crushed grass, and jellyfish veil, announcing the constant
baptism of newly created things'.

'All that has black sounds has duende' wrote Manuel Torre,
famous 'cantaor' flamenco. 'Behind those black sounds,
tenderly and intimately, live zephyrs, ants, volcanoes,
and the huge night, straining its waist against the
Milky Way', added Garcia Lorca.

'I have heard an old maestro of guitar saying,
<The duende is not in the throat; the duende
climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet>'.

'The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a
struggle, not a thought'.

(1) It can be shown that no unique algorithm
can generate the shortest program for computing
arbitrary, but given, data on a given computer.
See also: 'Low Xomplexity Art' at

(2) F. Garcia Lorca: 'The duende does not repeat himself,
any more than do the forms of the sea during a squall'.

(3) http://www.fut.es/~picl/libros/glorca/gl001202.htm

(4) http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jcosmejr/Lorca/Duende.html

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