The Sea

[Andrew Wyeth: Wind From the Sea]

A little bit more on the sea, as it has been beckoning me of late. I wrote this little, unstructured piece after reading John Banville's The Sea. Since writing it, I have had cause to notice the same idea in various other places, the class discussion of Whitehead's concept of personality seemed to converge upon thinking of it as some sort of accumulation which isn't always accurately retrieved from the vaults of memory. He also speaks of the sort of objectifying that one does at any moment of consciousness which would certainly support the idea of memory as being a limited, stylized capture of the actual, minutely detailed moment of experience.

In addition to Whitehead, I have also been reading some of the short stories by AS Byatt; she frequently describes a point of view from someone nearing the end of their life, locked in memory. I think that this sort of bondage in memory is the result of a lifetime of accumulated and inherited experience. If we follow a Whiteheadian model of novel thought, the more inherited data, the less simple it is to introduce some entirely new thought. Novelty must work in empty spaces and if the crevices of your brain are so well-stocked with remembered life, there won't be much room for novelty to dart in and bring new thoughts to light.

Finally, Paul Auster's stories "City of Glass" and "Ghosts" have both also recalled the idea of personality and memory to my own mind. He asks a very important question about how much our own self is dependent upon the stability of our environment. He asks what might happen to the self which is displaced and then required to immerse itself in the study of a completely other self. In these two stories, something like this crisis occurs, and its sufferers don't seem to recover to any previous stability. There is, of course, still the question of which is preferable: to live rock-solid in a comfortable custom-ridden self without much new experience, or to risk the introduction of novel experience and thought, which may well disrupt so much that a "normal" way of life is never again possible.

Anyway, this is what I wrote a few weeks ago in my reading journal:

And there it is again, the sea, rising always in our imagination, finding great weight of meaning in our minds. Our memories must remind us, their actions, of the sea--little lapping waves, always pulling at us, pulling at the grains of sand so precariously organized under the soles of our feet. We stand on dry land until the wave comes (when is it ever absent?) and the water of our memory soaks through our present, runs away in rivulets, returns, soaks again, each moment of return rearranging the present and sinking our feet a little further into the sand of our present. We sink and sink, squishing our toes into the mucky stuff. The sea remains, we remain, we change but we remain. Perhaps it isn't one thing changing, perhaps we too are waves lapping in synchronicity with the other, more obvious waves. We are there in that present, in that inevitable, all-contained, moment--and then elsewhere, down with our feet in the liquid sand, behind with the gull squawking its way into our revery, out with the great sea producing again, again, again the waves at our feet.

The memories threaten to loom large, to take over, but it is an empty threat, for the present is inescapable, just as the past is irrevocable.

We constantly move along in the present, a "certain" fiction. For where is it when we try to stop time and capture it, pinning it down to try and analyze or examine...to understand. But no one can understand the reality of something which isn't. The present seems most of all like an emptiness, a container or vessel, a threshold to something else, something larger, something anticipated...and rising from something else, something definite, established, fact. And if this moment right here right now is so inescapable, how do I live it to its fullest? What is the method for filling the container of the present? Equal parts inherited past and anticipated future? How can I be sure that they will mix well? Not produce a catastrophic explosion? Or is it enough to copy Lucretius, to just glide through , never noticing the bounds of the container which is the present?

Perhaps it is enough to be aware: to realize that there is freedom as well as constraint, that the canvas I'm dealing with has been set on its easel, that I have been given my tools and my paints, but no matter how well prepared I have been, there's no force compelling my momentary image. I paint freely, I live freely, but I can do both responsibly. Can't I? I can live fully, only if I remember that my water-tight capsule of this moment is not so water-tight after all...the past seeps in and the future has swept it along.

The Sea

[Andrew Wyeth: Wind From the Sea]

A little bit more on the sea, as it has been beckoning me of late. I wrote this little, unstructured piece after reading John Banville's The Sea. Since writing it, I have had cause to notice the same idea in various other places, the class discussion of Whitehead's concept of personality seemed to converge upon thinking of it as some sort of accumulation which isn't always accurately retrieved from the vaults of memory. He also speaks of the sort of objectifying that one does at any moment of consciousness which would certainly support the idea of memory as being a limited, stylized capture of the actual, minutely detailed moment of experience.

In addition to Whitehead, I have also been reading some of the short stories by AS Byatt; she frequently describes a point of view from someone nearing the end of their life, locked in memory. I think that this sort of bondage in memory is the result of a lifetime of accumulated and inherited experience. If we follow a Whiteheadian model of novel thought, the more inherited data, the less simple it is to introduce some entirely new thought. Novelty must work in empty spaces and if the crevices of your brain are so well-stocked with remembered life, there won't be much room for novelty to dart in and bring new thoughts to light.

Finally, Paul Auster's stories "City of Glass" and "Ghosts" have both also recalled the idea of personality and memory to my own mind. He asks a very important question about how much our own self is dependent upon the stability of our environment. He asks what might happen to the self which is displaced and then required to immerse itself in the study of a completely other self. In these two stories, something like this crisis occurs, and its sufferers don't seem to recover to any previous stability. There is, of course, still the question of which is preferable: to live rock-solid in a comfortable custom-ridden self without much new experience, or to risk the introduction of novel experience and thought, which may well disrupt so much that a "normal" way of life is never again possible.

Anyway, this is what I wrote a few weeks ago in my reading journal:

And there it is again, the sea, rising always in our imagination, finding great weight of meaning in our minds. Our memories must remind us, their actions, of the sea--little lapping waves, always pulling at us, pulling at the grains of sand so precariously organized under the soles of our feet. We stand on dry land until the wave comes (when is it ever absent?) and the water of our memory soaks through our present, runs away in rivulets, returns, soaks again, each moment of return rearranging the present and sinking our feet a little further into the sand of our present. We sink and sink, squishing our toes into the mucky stuff. The sea remains, we remain, we change but we remain. Perhaps it isn't one thing changing, perhaps we too are waves lapping in synchronicity with the other, more obvious waves. We are there in that present, in that inevitable, all-contained, moment--and then elsewhere, down with our feet in the liquid sand, behind with the gull squawking its way into our revery, out with the great sea producing again, again, again the waves at our feet.

The memories threaten to loom large, to take over, but it is an empty threat, for the present is inescapable, just as the past is irrevocable.

We constantly move along in the present, a "certain" fiction. For where is it when we try to stop time and capture it, pinning it down to try and analyze or examine...to understand. But no one can understand the reality of something which isn't. The present seems most of all like an emptiness, a container or vessel, a threshold to something else, something larger, something anticipated...and rising from something else, something definite, established, fact. And if this moment right here right now is so inescapable, how do I live it to its fullest? What is the method for filling the container of the present? Equal parts inherited past and anticipated future? How can I be sure that they will mix well? Not produce a catastrophic explosion? Or is it enough to copy Lucretius, to just glide through , never noticing the bounds of the container which is the present?

Perhaps it is enough to be aware: to realize that there is freedom as well as constraint, that the canvas I'm dealing with has been set on its easel, that I have been given my tools and my paints, but no matter how well prepared I have been, there's no force compelling my momentary image. I paint freely, I live freely, but I can do both responsibly. Can't I? I can live fully, only if I remember that my water-tight capsule of this moment is not so water-tight after all...the past seeps in and the future has swept it along.

As the finis approaches


The flesh is sad, Alas! and I’ve read all the books.
Let’s go! Far off. Let’s go! I sense
That the birds, intoxicated, fly
Deep into unknown spume and sky!
Nothing – not even old gardens mirrored by eyes –
Can restrain this heart that drenches itself in the sea
O nights, or the abandoned light of my lamp,
On the void of paper, that whiteness defends,
No, not even the young woman feeding her child.
I shall go! Steamer, straining at your ropes
Lift your anchor towards an exotic rawness!
A Boredom, made desolate by cruel hope
Still believes in the last goodbye of handkerchiefs!
And perhaps the masts, inviting lightning,
Are those the gale bends over shipwrecks,
Lost, without masts, without masts, no fertile islands...
But, oh my heart, listen to the sailors’ chant!
~Mallarme

As the finis approaches


The flesh is sad, Alas! and I’ve read all the books.
Let’s go! Far off. Let’s go! I sense
That the birds, intoxicated, fly
Deep into unknown spume and sky!
Nothing – not even old gardens mirrored by eyes –
Can restrain this heart that drenches itself in the sea
O nights, or the abandoned light of my lamp,
On the void of paper, that whiteness defends,
No, not even the young woman feeding her child.
I shall go! Steamer, straining at your ropes
Lift your anchor towards an exotic rawness!
A Boredom, made desolate by cruel hope
Still believes in the last goodbye of handkerchiefs!
And perhaps the masts, inviting lightning,
Are those the gale bends over shipwrecks,
Lost, without masts, without masts, no fertile islands...
But, oh my heart, listen to the sailors’ chant!
~Mallarme

Prefatory

Wells Cathedral


I'm working on a lengthier post concerning Virginia Woolf and the concept of genius, but until I get a little of my "real" work done, I'll have to be content with posting this favorite quotation of mine, from Between the Acts:

Empty, empty, empty; silent, silent, silent. The room was a shell, singing of what was before time was; a vase stood in the heart of the house, alabaster, smooth, cold, holding the still, distilled essence of emptiness, silence.

Prefatory

Wells Cathedral


I'm working on a lengthier post concerning Virginia Woolf and the concept of genius, but until I get a little of my "real" work done, I'll have to be content with posting this favorite quotation of mine, from Between the Acts:

Empty, empty, empty; silent, silent, silent. The room was a shell, singing of what was before time was; a vase stood in the heart of the house, alabaster, smooth, cold, holding the still, distilled essence of emptiness, silence.

Fantastic Creatures: Genius/Genii

[Rembrandt: Aristotle contemplating bust of Homer]

I never liked the fact that the title Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? could exist. It seemed quite wrong to me that one artist could appropriate another artist so completely. Sort of the way Archduke Franz Ferdinand will forever by the secondary recollection for anyone ~age 18 or younger who hears that name. That said, Mrs. Woolf has been haunting me.

She is a friendly ghost, and not unwelcome at all, but she exasperates me. Mrs. Woolf represents much of what I find Important in literature, and without getting pedantic here, that includes: originality, readability, experimentation, familiarity, and the crystal-clear perfection of a moment.

But she makes me feel guilty about not being able to create or express so fluidly. She also makes me feel guilty about the work that I am doing because it isn't immediately creative or expressive (which is silly because it is good work and I enjoy it).

Mrs. Woolf also makes me aware of Genius, a concept that makes me itch because it seems so powerfully lacking and so horribly unthinkable. (When I think of Genius, I inevitably reduce it to the standards of what has been done and stamped "Genius" and shuffled off to the vault of "Important Movements in History." I do not invest it with transcendent meaning like Kant or hope for it with the fortunate anticipation that must have been felt in the early 20th century when movements were blooming left and right).

I have a very soft spot for artistic inspiration and the two characters who embody its divine flights of perfection: the Muse and the Genius. I wrote a long essay once on the role of the muse in Surrealist art and entertain the vain dream of someday being one. The Ernst images peppered throughout this entry captivated me when I first wrote this paper (although I unfortunately could not find my favorite anywhere online). But the Genius is what I am concerned with here.

The Brontes, always present in my thoughts (and Mrs. Woolf's as well, her first published piece was a teeny article on Haworth, one of the top literary pilgrimage sites), identified themselves in their juvenilia as "Little Kings and Queens," or as Genii. Here's a passage from one of the early stories:

Sir--it is well known that the Genii have decreed that unless they perform certain arduous duties every year, of mysterious nature, all the world in firmament will be burnt up and gathered together in one mighty globe, which will roll in lonely grandeur through the vast wilderness of space, inhabited only by the four Princes of the Genii, till time should be succeeded by eternity.

A bit fantastic, but still these are the personae chosen by the young writers to represent their authorial power within the texts they were creating. Complete and absolute power.

Kant's idea of genius is much less fantastic on the surface, but incredibly mysterious:

Genius is the talent (natural endowment) that gives the rule to art. Since talent is an innate productive ability of the artist and as such belongs itself to nature, we could also put it this way: Genius is the innate mental predisposition (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art.

If we think of the words art and nature in the Aristotelian sense (art meaning artifice and nature meaning something having an internal source of motion and generation), a Genius owes all thanks to nature, not to art. A Genius is not molded or taught or acquired, but rather is, a natural being-at-work. We might call it a talent for novelty, for the introduction of the bits and pieces which make up originality. I wonder how much effort goes into a being-at-work like Genius...

Fantastic Creatures: Genius/Genii

[Rembrandt: Aristotle contemplating bust of Homer]

I never liked the fact that the title Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? could exist. It seemed quite wrong to me that one artist could appropriate another artist so completely. Sort of the way Archduke Franz Ferdinand will forever by the secondary recollection for anyone ~age 18 or younger who hears that name. That said, Mrs. Woolf has been haunting me.

She is a friendly ghost, and not unwelcome at all, but she exasperates me. Mrs. Woolf represents much of what I find Important in literature, and without getting pedantic here, that includes: originality, readability, experimentation, familiarity, and the crystal-clear perfection of a moment.

But she makes me feel guilty about not being able to create or express so fluidly. She also makes me feel guilty about the work that I am doing because it isn't immediately creative or expressive (which is silly because it is good work and I enjoy it).

Mrs. Woolf also makes me aware of Genius, a concept that makes me itch because it seems so powerfully lacking and so horribly unthinkable. (When I think of Genius, I inevitably reduce it to the standards of what has been done and stamped "Genius" and shuffled off to the vault of "Important Movements in History." I do not invest it with transcendent meaning like Kant or hope for it with the fortunate anticipation that must have been felt in the early 20th century when movements were blooming left and right).

I have a very soft spot for artistic inspiration and the two characters who embody its divine flights of perfection: the Muse and the Genius. I wrote a long essay once on the role of the muse in Surrealist art and entertain the vain dream of someday being one. The Ernst images peppered throughout this entry captivated me when I first wrote this paper (although I unfortunately could not find my favorite anywhere online). But the Genius is what I am concerned with here.

The Brontes, always present in my thoughts (and Mrs. Woolf's as well, her first published piece was a teeny article on Haworth, one of the top literary pilgrimage sites), identified themselves in their juvenilia as "Little Kings and Queens," or as Genii. Here's a passage from one of the early stories:

Sir--it is well known that the Genii have decreed that unless they perform certain arduous duties every year, of mysterious nature, all the world in firmament will be burnt up and gathered together in one mighty globe, which will roll in lonely grandeur through the vast wilderness of space, inhabited only by the four Princes of the Genii, till time should be succeeded by eternity.

A bit fantastic, but still these are the personae chosen by the young writers to represent their authorial power within the texts they were creating. Complete and absolute power.

Kant's idea of genius is much less fantastic on the surface, but incredibly mysterious:

Genius is the talent (natural endowment) that gives the rule to art. Since talent is an innate productive ability of the artist and as such belongs itself to nature, we could also put it this way: Genius is the innate mental predisposition (ingenium) through which nature gives the rule to art.

If we think of the words art and nature in the Aristotelian sense (art meaning artifice and nature meaning something having an internal source of motion and generation), a Genius owes all thanks to nature, not to art. A Genius is not molded or taught or acquired, but rather is, a natural being-at-work. We might call it a talent for novelty, for the introduction of the bits and pieces which make up originality. I wonder how much effort goes into a being-at-work like Genius...

Elemental


I was feeling restless this evening and decided to go for a walk, turning in the direction of the bridge, as opposed to downtown. My restlessness was born from the weather, tempestuous as it was. I had been in my apartment, and could no longer passively listen to the angry wind sweep through the street and round the corners.

The bridge is a beautiful thing, lined with electric lanterns trying their best to be nostalgic and it's at least half a mile long, gently sloping up to a picturesque view of my sleepy little town. Sailboats pass under on the calmer days; faster, more expensive boats on the days when people might watch and envy.

No boats tonight, though there was a steady stream of glaring, rattling vehicles I could have done without. My swallow-tail graphite grey coat joined hands with the wind and danced a lively counterpoint to its sharp strides. The water below me formed itself into waves for a rare imitation of shore-sounds, an effort lost to the wholly overpowering roar of the air.

The sky was all leaden, enlivened streaks, illumined underneath by the frightful moon, glaring with a divine wrath at being so eclipsed. There was an interplay that brought malevolence to mind, and with that recollection, Villette and my beloved heroine of wild cravings and stormy moods. She too goes out on a night like this, discovering at the house of old Mme Walraves, Malevola, that there is a ghostly nun in her future. The sky was gloom, underwritten and lifted and made real, frenzied, and incredible by the moon. The sort of night that nightmares enjoy and words like heath and gloaming roam with meaning.

I felt a bit transfigured myself, what with the sweeping tumble and dash of my coattails and my streaming hair, climbing a bridge and fighting to keep some uprightness. The words that came to my mind were strong and original with the momentous weight that can never be captured in recollection, no matter how close it follows. I stopped at the lightpost that marks the highpoint and turned back, too overwhelmed by the sheer force of nature. My walk back was obliterating. I was reminded of the myriad of princess stories, in which a young and delicate flower is swept away by an untimely gust. I am composed of graver material and survived my journey, but couldn't avoid the inevitable feeling of smallness.

Now the moon sits above my window, free of those tiresome, obscuring clouds: barren, brazen in her beauty, gazing down with the full white of lunar light. She little realizes how her unwelcome garment of cloud-stuff flattered. She seems too alone now, too distant, too other. The wind is still moving, but it has begun to settle back on its haunches, wheezing like an old beast waiting for a warm fire and a crust of bread. I too am quiet. The work I had planned for this evening went quickly and I can now, in the emptiness of rare leisure, feel the weight of a strange guilt.

Too often forgotten, too quickly dismissed; wasn't it Sylvia Plath who recounted the story of an editor who shared a secret with her? after the great rains, publishers are always (I can't avoid the pun here) inundated/flooded/up to their gills with poems of elemental Nature.

The poor old lady must trick herself out to rouse just a little spirit out of this seething mass of personality.

Elemental


I was feeling restless this evening and decided to go for a walk, turning in the direction of the bridge, as opposed to downtown. My restlessness was born from the weather, tempestuous as it was. I had been in my apartment, and could no longer passively listen to the angry wind sweep through the street and round the corners.

The bridge is a beautiful thing, lined with electric lanterns trying their best to be nostalgic and it's at least half a mile long, gently sloping up to a picturesque view of my sleepy little town. Sailboats pass under on the calmer days; faster, more expensive boats on the days when people might watch and envy.

No boats tonight, though there was a steady stream of glaring, rattling vehicles I could have done without. My swallow-tail graphite grey coat joined hands with the wind and danced a lively counterpoint to its sharp strides. The water below me formed itself into waves for a rare imitation of shore-sounds, an effort lost to the wholly overpowering roar of the air.

The sky was all leaden, enlivened streaks, illumined underneath by the frightful moon, glaring with a divine wrath at being so eclipsed. There was an interplay that brought malevolence to mind, and with that recollection, Villette and my beloved heroine of wild cravings and stormy moods. She too goes out on a night like this, discovering at the house of old Mme Walraves, Malevola, that there is a ghostly nun in her future. The sky was gloom, underwritten and lifted and made real, frenzied, and incredible by the moon. The sort of night that nightmares enjoy and words like heath and gloaming roam with meaning.

I felt a bit transfigured myself, what with the sweeping tumble and dash of my coattails and my streaming hair, climbing a bridge and fighting to keep some uprightness. The words that came to my mind were strong and original with the momentous weight that can never be captured in recollection, no matter how close it follows. I stopped at the lightpost that marks the highpoint and turned back, too overwhelmed by the sheer force of nature. My walk back was obliterating. I was reminded of the myriad of princess stories, in which a young and delicate flower is swept away by an untimely gust. I am composed of graver material and survived my journey, but couldn't avoid the inevitable feeling of smallness.

Now the moon sits above my window, free of those tiresome, obscuring clouds: barren, brazen in her beauty, gazing down with the full white of lunar light. She little realizes how her unwelcome garment of cloud-stuff flattered. She seems too alone now, too distant, too other. The wind is still moving, but it has begun to settle back on its haunches, wheezing like an old beast waiting for a warm fire and a crust of bread. I too am quiet. The work I had planned for this evening went quickly and I can now, in the emptiness of rare leisure, feel the weight of a strange guilt.

Too often forgotten, too quickly dismissed; wasn't it Sylvia Plath who recounted the story of an editor who shared a secret with her? after the great rains, publishers are always (I can't avoid the pun here) inundated/flooded/up to their gills with poems of elemental Nature.

The poor old lady must trick herself out to rouse just a little spirit out of this seething mass of personality.

Musings from today


Last week the magnolia tree outside my kitchen window was in full mauve-tinged bloom; the various fruit trees outside the most beautiful house on my block were fluttery-petaled and pink; birds were ebullient with chirping and life was warm.

It rained ALL day Saturday and the petals fell with the droplets. The birds were quieted, I thought of my favorite two-line poem, by Ezra Pound:

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
When the rain passed and the clouds shifted, the world turned green. Now the magnolia is yellow-green and popping with life, reminding me of The Secret Garden when Dickon shows Mary the green sap of the gray-shrouded twig and says in a accented twang: "But look Mary, it's wick"

I will never shrug off this deep-seeded link with the earth, I don't want to. I smell that spicy, languid, unmistakable scent of the Korean Spice Viburnum and am immediately transported to my long days trying in vain to chop the snowball-heads of that bush off to preserve its fragrance. Many pints of water were boiled in the effort to make perfume from those blossoms...resulting inevitable in a tepid eau de dead flower.

But with spring comes change, and for me that means shedding my Librarian-ship and till-now uninterrupted student role for someting very different. I'm graduating for the third time in a month, moving to NY in two months, hopefully to work in a high-paced demanding job that offers no quarter for a dreamer and idealist. Sure the plan is to be frantically applying to other schools during this time, but the year stands: a year without a focus on books.

I know I'll be alright, but I'm wistful for what must be past.

Musings from today


Last week the magnolia tree outside my kitchen window was in full mauve-tinged bloom; the various fruit trees outside the most beautiful house on my block were fluttery-petaled and pink; birds were ebullient with chirping and life was warm.

It rained ALL day Saturday and the petals fell with the droplets. The birds were quieted, I thought of my favorite two-line poem, by Ezra Pound:

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
When the rain passed and the clouds shifted, the world turned green. Now the magnolia is yellow-green and popping with life, reminding me of The Secret Garden when Dickon shows Mary the green sap of the gray-shrouded twig and says in a accented twang: "But look Mary, it's wick"

I will never shrug off this deep-seeded link with the earth, I don't want to. I smell that spicy, languid, unmistakable scent of the Korean Spice Viburnum and am immediately transported to my long days trying in vain to chop the snowball-heads of that bush off to preserve its fragrance. Many pints of water were boiled in the effort to make perfume from those blossoms...resulting inevitable in a tepid eau de dead flower.

But with spring comes change, and for me that means shedding my Librarian-ship and till-now uninterrupted student role for someting very different. I'm graduating for the third time in a month, moving to NY in two months, hopefully to work in a high-paced demanding job that offers no quarter for a dreamer and idealist. Sure the plan is to be frantically applying to other schools during this time, but the year stands: a year without a focus on books.

I know I'll be alright, but I'm wistful for what must be past.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am about to tell the tale of sad feet.

These feet happen to belong to me, and since the age of fifteen have been an embarassing SIZE 11. I say embarassing because to mention the size of my feet to silly shoe salesman is to incite a slight widening of the eyes and a bit of (I imagine) silent pity for a girl who must be saddled with large feet.

By and large, I didn't mind. I spent those early years of gargantuity wearing my converse allstars when I wasn't barefoot and spending many, many hours in or at a pool.
I started to enjoy walking into department stores for the rare formal occasion that required "real" shoes, stating loud and proud, "What's the largest size you have in this?" And then turning disdainfully away when a confused "9, maybe 10?" was their response.

But I also remember VERY vividly when I was 15, a freshly-footed size 11, sitting in my Earth Science class and peering at, not mineral samples or molecular structures, but the pages of a blessed J Crew catalog. EVERY single pair of shoes was offered in a size 11.


Wild transports of joy! The Gods have smiled down from Heaven!

But J Crew got boring and I returned to my disdainful rejection of the shoe crowd. I have been instructed to go to "alternative lifestyle" shoe stores for larger size heels. This makes me sad. Instead of the lovely creations you will find below, I found terrifying things that gave me nightmares.

I still get a lot of shoes from J Crew and have found some other sources which satisfy my subdued appreciation for fancy feet, but I stick to flats and boots (which is also a testament to the too-tall issue which enters when tall women try and wear 4.5 inch platforms). My feet are complacent on the best of days, resigned to their paradoxical monstrosity.

Isn't it funny that we inhabit a world where women at my height (5'10'') wear the clothing size of a child and can't shoe their feet? One cannot diet away the size of their feet. Ce n'est pas possible. And still, designers persist in churning out a limited number of size 11s (if they produce them at all), causing a veritable frenzy at the stores which purchase an even smaller amount of them.

Sometimes I wonder if its a willful blindness: women are to be small, and if they simply must be tall, well, why can't we just stretch those small ladies upward? A monstrous gaggle of Gumby ladies trotting their tall frames around, horribly unbalanced on size 8 feet. Please. As far as we want to go on the thin debate, the size of feet is here to stay, and getting larger. Please designers, take note.

And following that diatribe, I present you with those articles of shoe loveliness which are currently causing Sad Feet Syndrome. They are all available up to a size 10. These have been collected from a shopbop.com:

Kovette...I am in love...utterly, totally in love:





Loeffler Randall...the perfection is in the beauty of the heel and toe shape





If ANY of these shoes were available in a size 11, then any random search online for a size 11 shoe would be less likely to yield horrible vinyl stripper shoes designed for those wonderful men who have somehow cornered the large-footed women's shoe market, whichare available up to a size 16.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am about to tell the tale of sad feet.

These feet happen to belong to me, and since the age of fifteen have been an embarassing SIZE 11. I say embarassing because to mention the size of my feet to silly shoe salesman is to incite a slight widening of the eyes and a bit of (I imagine) silent pity for a girl who must be saddled with large feet.

By and large, I didn't mind. I spent those early years of gargantuity wearing my converse allstars when I wasn't barefoot and spending many, many hours in or at a pool.
I started to enjoy walking into department stores for the rare formal occasion that required "real" shoes, stating loud and proud, "What's the largest size you have in this?" And then turning disdainfully away when a confused "9, maybe 10?" was their response.

But I also remember VERY vividly when I was 15, a freshly-footed size 11, sitting in my Earth Science class and peering at, not mineral samples or molecular structures, but the pages of a blessed J Crew catalog. EVERY single pair of shoes was offered in a size 11.


Wild transports of joy! The Gods have smiled down from Heaven!

But J Crew got boring and I returned to my disdainful rejection of the shoe crowd. I have been instructed to go to "alternative lifestyle" shoe stores for larger size heels. This makes me sad. Instead of the lovely creations you will find below, I found terrifying things that gave me nightmares.

I still get a lot of shoes from J Crew and have found some other sources which satisfy my subdued appreciation for fancy feet, but I stick to flats and boots (which is also a testament to the too-tall issue which enters when tall women try and wear 4.5 inch platforms). My feet are complacent on the best of days, resigned to their paradoxical monstrosity.

Isn't it funny that we inhabit a world where women at my height (5'10'') wear the clothing size of a child and can't shoe their feet? One cannot diet away the size of their feet. Ce n'est pas possible. And still, designers persist in churning out a limited number of size 11s (if they produce them at all), causing a veritable frenzy at the stores which purchase an even smaller amount of them.

Sometimes I wonder if its a willful blindness: women are to be small, and if they simply must be tall, well, why can't we just stretch those small ladies upward? A monstrous gaggle of Gumby ladies trotting their tall frames around, horribly unbalanced on size 8 feet. Please. As far as we want to go on the thin debate, the size of feet is here to stay, and getting larger. Please designers, take note.

And following that diatribe, I present you with those articles of shoe loveliness which are currently causing Sad Feet Syndrome. They are all available up to a size 10. These have been collected from a shopbop.com:

Kovette...I am in love...utterly, totally in love:





Loeffler Randall...the perfection is in the beauty of the heel and toe shape





If ANY of these shoes were available in a size 11, then any random search online for a size 11 shoe would be less likely to yield horrible vinyl stripper shoes designed for those wonderful men who have somehow cornered the large-footed women's shoe market, whichare available up to a size 16.