Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tender Buttons [A Light in the Moon]

Gertrude Stein's song to Deciding

A light in the moon the only light is on Sunday. What was the sensible decision. The sensible decision was that notwithstanding many declarations and more music, not even notwithstanding the choice and a torch and a collection, notwithstanding the celebrating hat and a vacation and even more noise than cutting, notwithstanding Europe and Asia and being overbearing, not even notwithstanding an elephant and a strict occasion, not even withstanding more cultivation and some seasoning, not even with drowning and with the ocean being encircling, not even with more likeness and any cloud, not even with terrific sacrifice of pedestrianism and a special resolution, not even more likely to be pleasing. The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.

Monday, May 17, 2010

To Tear from the Midpoint

No one knows what the laws are. That there are laws
we know, by the daily burnings if nothing else.
On the second

day of shooting in the Place de la Concorde
I notice the leaves in the Jardin have changed

but mention this to no one 
for fear of continuity problems.
I had already invalidated 16 (otherwise good)

takes this morning by changing an earring.
You cannot erase.
Is this a law?

No, a talent. To step obliquely
where stones are sharp.
Vice is also sharp.

There are laws against vice.
But the shock stays with you.

-Anne Carson

My Impression of Things is Myself

Catherine Opie's song to Herself

Catherine Opie, "Self-Portrait/Cutting," 1993

Catherine Opie, "Self-portrait/Pervert," 1994

Catherine Opie, "Self-portrait/Nursing," 2003

The world cracks open like an egg every day -- more and more of it is visible to me all the time. I missed this work altogether for years. I looked at it, underestimated what it was, and insisted on my impression. And now it's knocking me out. 

As Jen Graves points out in Art News, in "Self-portrait/Cutting" the house is bleeding.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WW2 in Color

German POWs in Ontario, 1946

The red circle on the back of their issued denim jackets readily identified 
German POWs as prisoners. They joked about the targets painted on their backs.
These two are working on a farm in Ontario.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"...because, if you've noticed, the sea is white three quarters of the time. Just white."

Cy Twombly's song for Painting
...I think with most painters [they] can begin to think and it can change very fast, the impetus of what something is. It's instinctive in a certain kind of painting, not as if you were painting an object or special things, but it's like [it's] coming through the nervous system. It's like a nervous system. It's not described, it's happening. The feeling is going on with the task. The line is the feeling, from a soft thing, a dreamy thing, to something hard, something arid, something lonely, something ending, something beginning. It's like I'm experiencing something frightening, I'm experiencing the thing and I have to be at that state because I'm also going on.

from David Sylvester's interview with Cy Twombly in London, June 2000.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Valentine Godé-Darel

Ferdinard Hodler's song to Valentine Godé-Darel

He met and fell in love with her in 1908. In 1913 she was diagnosed with cancer and was bedridden for the next two years. He spent those two years making portrait after portrait of her at her bedside. You can feel all of his activity and helplessness. And sadness.

Mainly they're a tribute to his affection, to the depth of his feeling, and to his wonder and confusion when faced with mortality. To me they feel like he couldn't help but make them. The last one is a memento mori, made after her death. It reminded me of this more recent memento mori:

Annie Liebowitz's song to Susan Sontag 

Ferdinand Hodler on Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Roma and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not a language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

-Jack Gilbert 

"What we feel most has no name..."

I heard recently that ancient Romans understood the future not as a passive road, lying down before them, but as a wave rushing up behind them.  Somehow that made me want to send flowers.