[lit-ideas] Re: Mayakovsky and his demon

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2015 15:03:08 +0200

I am not sure what the facts were but a dark joke had it that he killed
himself with two bullets in the heart and one in the head,

On Sat, Sep 26, 2015 at 7:22 AM, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
wrote:

In Mayakovsky's poem "A Man," in the subsection "The Ascension of
Mayakovsky" is the following:

"I myself am a poet. You teach the children: 'The sun rises over the
grass.' From the love bed out from behind his hairlets rises the head of
my beloved.

She raised the arrow with her eyes.
Wipe off your smile!
But the heart rushes toward a bullet,
and the throat longs for a razor.
My grief grows
into incoherent raving about a demon.
He is coming for me,
luring me to the water,
leads me on to the edge of a roof.
Around me is snow.
A light snow falls.
It whirls around and then stops still.
And there falls.
It whirls around and then stops still.
And there falls
-- again! --
onto the ice
a frozen emerald.
My soul shakes.
It's between the ice floes,
and no way it can escape!
That's how I'll go,
spellbound
along the banks of the Neva..
I step forward --
and again I'm in that place.
I tear myself away --
and again for nothing.

Mayakovsky eventually shot himself. In his suicide poem found after his
death the only reference to his motivation is to say "I have no other way
out." "The Man" was written in 1916-1917 and he committed suicide in
1930. Perhaps the above section of poetry is a metaphor for the
destructiveness of his relationship with Lilli. In any case these were
thoughts familiar to him. He may well have considered suicide often before
he actually did it.

But why? Here in Lit-Ideas we have in this discussion two poets, Geary
and Helm. Geary seemed in a triumphalist mood when he wrote "Without me
perceiving nothing would exist, not as far as I'm concerned anyway.. What
is has no meaning except what I give to it. I am the meaning giver. Just
like you. Res Rei Rei REM Re."

In my case I was in a different mood. Perhaps my grief grew into
incoherent raving -- at least my mind before I wrote "Morning" was
incoherent to start with. My heart has never rushed toward a bullet. In
fact I am used to the incoherence of random ideas flitting through my
mind. I wouldn't call them raving though. And when I sought something, I
didn't give structure to all the ideas as perhaps Geary does his. I
selected something that seemed pressing and when I focused on that the rest
subsided and vanished. Am I the only one who writes this way? I have
often wondered about poets who were considered mad, or like Maykovsky
commit suicide. Perhaps they aren't on good terms with the ideas that
flood their minds. Perhaps for them writing is no solution. Perhaps, they
think, the only way to make the raving stop is to rush toward a bullet.

I wouldn't say that I am on "good" terms with the ideas that sometimes
flood my mind, but I'm a long way from finding them demonic. Perhaps if a
poet's ideas have become demonic there is indeed no other way out.

Since Maykovsky was the most beloved poet of the early Soviets they were
quick to declare his suicide to be the result of his relationships with
three women, especially Lilli. Later non-soviet critics believed
Mayakovsky was being hounded by the soviet police and that was the real
reason he committed suicide, but neither the soviets nor the later critics
were poets. I am inclined to think Maykovski committed suicide to escape
his demon.

Lawrence

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