Day 72 – Duende.

I find myself exploring Duende.

The New Oxford English Dictionary gives:

1. A ghost, an evil spirit; 2. Inspiration, magic, fire.

The Random House Dictionary gives:

1. A goblin, demon, spirit; 2. Charm, magnetism.

The Larousse Spanish-English Dictionary translates duende as Goblin, elf, imp/Magic. It gives the usages: los duendes del Flamenco, the Magic of Flamenco; tener duende, to have a certain magic.

The artistic and especially musical term was derived. Tener duende (“having duende”) can be loosely translated as having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity, often connected with flamenco.

The duende is a demonic earth spirit who helps the artist see the limitations of intelligence, reminding him that “ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head”; who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps him create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art. The duende is seen, in Lorca’s lecture, as an alternative to style, to mere virtuosity, to God-given grace and charm (what Spaniards call “angel”), and to the classical, artistic norms dictated by the muse. Not that the artist simply surrenders to the duende; he or she has to battle it skillfully, “on the rim of the well”, in “hand-to-hand combat”. To a higher degree than the muse or the angel, the duende seizes not only the performer but also the audience, creating conditions where art can be understood spontaneously with little, if any, conscious effort. It is, in Lorca’s words, “a sort of corkscrew that can get art into the sensibility of an audience… the very dearest thing that life can offer the intellectual.” The critic Brook Zern has written, of a performance of someone with duende,

“it dilates the mind’s eye, so that the intensity becomes almost unendurable… There is a quality of first-timeness, of reality so heightened and exaggerated that it becomes unreal…”

1 thought on “Day 72 – Duende.

  1. Salutations people! Since you’re enthusiastic about classics, I want to share with you that it was identified that I Ching (Zhouyi) along with Chinese classic text Dao De Jing (by Lao-tsu) are commentaries to Shan Hai Ching. Experts found that the great da Vinci has been right in his assumptions — human beings ARE bio-machines. Every person receives a program at birth. All these programs are recorded in Shan Hai Jing or The Collection of Mountains and Seas.

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