Why do you think I have this Outrrrageous accent?!

Ahem.

I've been reading a lot of quest-type books lately: The Volsunga Saga; Lord of the Rings; the King Arthur legends. And since I'm in that sort of mood, and because of the coming holiday season, I thought I'd share one of my family's favorite traditions: the recitation of Monty Python.
"your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"






I found the English peasant scene ... it may be our favorite, simply for the multiple descriptions of the excalibur moment.

Why do you think I have this Outrrrageous accent?!

Ahem.

I've been reading a lot of quest-type books lately: The Volsunga Saga; Lord of the Rings; the King Arthur legends. And since I'm in that sort of mood, and because of the coming holiday season, I thought I'd share one of my family's favorite traditions: the recitation of Monty Python.
"your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"






I found the English peasant scene ... it may be our favorite, simply for the multiple descriptions of the excalibur moment.

Lacunae

(Amy Cutler)

It's been a lovely week since my last post, mainly because five of those days were spent back in MD for some serious leisure and family time. I got myself back in the kitchen, visited my grandmother, cleaned out my closet, played canasta and scrabble, watched a little too much TV, just enough movies, and enjoyed having family, pets, quiet, stars, grass, and flights of stairs at my immediate access.

I also found the time to read a strange trio of books: Dostoevsky's The Double, Macbeth, and Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Macbeth was perfect for the grey, misty days we started off the holiday with. A little sinister, cold and silent.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has been sitting on my "to-be-read" pile for a few months now. I read A Wild Sheep's Chase at some point last year and loved it--mainly because I love being lead on a fast-paced tear through a book, only to be utterly surprised at the end. I have to say, this is one of the strangest, most mesmerizing books I've read yet. I don't understand how he can pack such a twisty plot full of crazy, vivid, memorable characters, and then make it a zip to read. I think I clocked a day and a half for the book, that's a fast read, even by my standards.

He writes beautifully about our tenuous grip on reality--how we try so intensely to make it a reliable, definable thing--closing our eyes to all of the inconsistincies and wonders we are confronted with. It's so much simpler to live only in the world of tasks and things and opinions, ignoring or refusing to see the mysteries and paradoxes and spots of darkness which make life interesting.

I'll have more to write about this once I sit down with an authentic pen and some authentic paper.

Lacunae

(Amy Cutler)

It's been a lovely week since my last post, mainly because five of those days were spent back in MD for some serious leisure and family time. I got myself back in the kitchen, visited my grandmother, cleaned out my closet, played canasta and scrabble, watched a little too much TV, just enough movies, and enjoyed having family, pets, quiet, stars, grass, and flights of stairs at my immediate access.

I also found the time to read a strange trio of books: Dostoevsky's The Double, Macbeth, and Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Macbeth was perfect for the grey, misty days we started off the holiday with. A little sinister, cold and silent.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has been sitting on my "to-be-read" pile for a few months now. I read A Wild Sheep's Chase at some point last year and loved it--mainly because I love being lead on a fast-paced tear through a book, only to be utterly surprised at the end. I have to say, this is one of the strangest, most mesmerizing books I've read yet. I don't understand how he can pack such a twisty plot full of crazy, vivid, memorable characters, and then make it a zip to read. I think I clocked a day and a half for the book, that's a fast read, even by my standards.

He writes beautifully about our tenuous grip on reality--how we try so intensely to make it a reliable, definable thing--closing our eyes to all of the inconsistincies and wonders we are confronted with. It's so much simpler to live only in the world of tasks and things and opinions, ignoring or refusing to see the mysteries and paradoxes and spots of darkness which make life interesting.

I'll have more to write about this once I sit down with an authentic pen and some authentic paper.

Je ne vois pas la femme cachee dans la foret

[Anouk Aimee - all images from a Google Images search]


I've been dreaming of cheekbones. Of the women I wish I resembled.

Ever since seeing Anouk Aimee in La Dolce Vita, she has risen to the top of my "style icons" list. It's an illustrious list, Audrey and Grace Kelly are at the top comfortably and irrevocably, but there are other, sometimes nameless faces that have earned spots on that list. There's the art student who had the most covetable wardrobe of black sweaters and beat up boots; Irina Lazareneu, the girl I passed in the street who wore bright orange with panache and subtlety; a handful of chanteuses who exude the coolness I'll never have; and then there are a string of beauties who I admire for their cheekbones and the way they can wear short hair with a touch of the gamine and a dash of the tomboy (Jean Seberg may be at the top of this list).






Catherine Deneuve and Nico

I love Anouk in both La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2; her sadness and frustration; her glamour even in nonchalance; her untouchable quality. There's a silence about her, as if much is kept bottled up but that the bottling is infinitely preferable to some maelstrom of hysteria.

[Marina Perez - Sartorialist ]

The woman-child myth is one that must have some truth to it, as it has proven so infernally hard to shake. It's a topic of much interest to me, and not one that can be easily addressed in a medium such as this. But why is there such a glamorization of women who are less human and more fairy? I'm thinking of Breton's Nadja; of the Surrealists' Gradiva; of Cortazar's La Maga; even of Holly Golightly; that unattainable, magnetic muse figure. But who is that woman? She can't be more than an ideal, can she? Or is that some some too-secular cynicism speaking from my own failings and insecurities?

She was to be the hysteric, unchained spirit; hysteria, the ultimate feminine unveiling. Hysteria removed all of the trappings of law and society, the restrictions that separated the female from her "natural state." Women were/are thought to inspire, to be some sort of bridge to a world where creativity flows and the word elemental takes on meaning.

[Magritte: Je ne vois pas la femme cachee dans le foret]

Again, I do not know this woman. I cannot imagine what it must be to be her. I have no bond with her, no similarity. This of course does not prevent the possibility of her existence, but it does help to explain my fascination with the idea of her existence. Is she simply insane? A half-human? More sylph/sprite than person? Does she question her existence?

I have no way of knowing. I imagine that such a creature wouldn't spend time writing circles around the thoughts she wished she had; she wouldn't turn her back on sentimentality or emotion or passion; she wouldn't shrink from an audience for fear of disapproval. But she would be too much.


Even the Surrealists, so interested in finding her, had to give up: For artists/writers like Breton, the Nadjas in his life were altogther too human: not enough of the ‘free spirit’, the femme-enfant close to the realm of the unconscious, and too much a part of this world, subject to its strife and sadness. He, with many, seem content to continue failing in the pursuit of some ideal muse, the Gradiva who led the artist forward on a never-ending path of inspiration.

I prefer a bit of silence I think. Discipline or temperance. Moderation in decision and action. And I think that all those real women who are billed as "muses" etc. are admirable and beautiful and much more complicated than the interviewers would have them be.

Je ne vois pas la femme cachee dans la foret

[Anouk Aimee - all images from a Google Images search]


I've been dreaming of cheekbones. Of the women I wish I resembled.

Ever since seeing Anouk Aimee in La Dolce Vita, she has risen to the top of my "style icons" list. It's an illustrious list, Audrey and Grace Kelly are at the top comfortably and irrevocably, but there are other, sometimes nameless faces that have earned spots on that list. There's the art student who had the most covetable wardrobe of black sweaters and beat up boots; Irina Lazareneu, the girl I passed in the street who wore bright orange with panache and subtlety; a handful of chanteuses who exude the coolness I'll never have; and then there are a string of beauties who I admire for their cheekbones and the way they can wear short hair with a touch of the gamine and a dash of the tomboy (Jean Seberg may be at the top of this list).






Catherine Deneuve and Nico

I love Anouk in both La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2; her sadness and frustration; her glamour even in nonchalance; her untouchable quality. There's a silence about her, as if much is kept bottled up but that the bottling is infinitely preferable to some maelstrom of hysteria.

[Marina Perez - Sartorialist ]

The woman-child myth is one that must have some truth to it, as it has proven so infernally hard to shake. It's a topic of much interest to me, and not one that can be easily addressed in a medium such as this. But why is there such a glamorization of women who are less human and more fairy? I'm thinking of Breton's Nadja; of the Surrealists' Gradiva; of Cortazar's La Maga; even of Holly Golightly; that unattainable, magnetic muse figure. But who is that woman? She can't be more than an ideal, can she? Or is that some some too-secular cynicism speaking from my own failings and insecurities?

She was to be the hysteric, unchained spirit; hysteria, the ultimate feminine unveiling. Hysteria removed all of the trappings of law and society, the restrictions that separated the female from her "natural state." Women were/are thought to inspire, to be some sort of bridge to a world where creativity flows and the word elemental takes on meaning.

[Magritte: Je ne vois pas la femme cachee dans le foret]

Again, I do not know this woman. I cannot imagine what it must be to be her. I have no bond with her, no similarity. This of course does not prevent the possibility of her existence, but it does help to explain my fascination with the idea of her existence. Is she simply insane? A half-human? More sylph/sprite than person? Does she question her existence?

I have no way of knowing. I imagine that such a creature wouldn't spend time writing circles around the thoughts she wished she had; she wouldn't turn her back on sentimentality or emotion or passion; she wouldn't shrink from an audience for fear of disapproval. But she would be too much.


Even the Surrealists, so interested in finding her, had to give up: For artists/writers like Breton, the Nadjas in his life were altogther too human: not enough of the ‘free spirit’, the femme-enfant close to the realm of the unconscious, and too much a part of this world, subject to its strife and sadness. He, with many, seem content to continue failing in the pursuit of some ideal muse, the Gradiva who led the artist forward on a never-ending path of inspiration.

I prefer a bit of silence I think. Discipline or temperance. Moderation in decision and action. And I think that all those real women who are billed as "muses" etc. are admirable and beautiful and much more complicated than the interviewers would have them be.

Incidentally...

[William Dyce: Pegwell Bay, a Recollection of October 5th 1858]

I had a French teacher in high school who would often begin many sentences with "Incidentally, ..." He would then launch into a disparate range of topics, rarely ones which could accurately be called "incidents." But the phrase stuck with me. (This was never in French of course, which would explain why 7 years of studying that language has left me capable of unraveling little more than bistro menus and Paris Vogue).

I was able to leave my place of employment at the "early" hour of 9:00 PM last night and, forgoing the swim I should have had, went straight home. I packed an incredible amount of reading, writing, listening, and leaping about into the hours before I finally tired myself out and retired (around 1 AM I should say). I felt, melodramatically, as if I had been uncaged for an evening, and in my freedom darted about between notes on the diary of Virginia Woolf; Rimbaud's Illuminations, Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and memory after memory.

I remembered my family's love of fires (both the sort contained by a hearth, and those that were a bit more dangerous and out-of-doors--incidentally, we once decided to destroy a large box which had served as a container for some sort of an appliance, and then as a sort of cat-chambers by burning it. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and we were sent running for pails of water by great burning chunks of cardboard. We all found this quite funny if I remember correctly...). I wished for a roaring fire like the sort we used to build, which I would lay in front of all through the winter. Cheek pressed against the scratchy rug, book tilted in front of my eyes and lit by warm, flickering light; turning from side to side as the fire would slowly warm until burning. Always on the side, thigh and one arm cool against the marble tiles, nose cold and then burnt and then cold again.

The cats would always lay perilously close to the fire, as if soaking up as much heat as felinely possible.

The smell of wood in all its forms: the sawed wood as one of the umpteenth home projects were occurring, the smell of damp bark and mulch in the woods, the smell of the burning firewood, slowly becoming cinders and ash.

As I thought these things last night, I would either be writing or reading; lying prone on the floor, supine on the bed, pacing about, stretching, taking breaks to switch albums (the CD sort).

Then I was sideswiped by a memory most vivid. It was from my weekend spent in Haworth, utterly alone, under a self-imposed vow of silence, re-tracing the steps of my beloved Brontes. I was transported back to the hike I made out to Top Withens, the chilly picnic I enjoyed out there, the sheep, the silver-green grass against well-worn and much-photographed stone. I walked the four miles back to town that night along a different road, briefly lost my way, worked up an enormous appetite, and arrived back to town for a supper of rosemary-currant chicken with roasted potatoes and a glass of shandy.

It was a wonderful evening.

A couple of passages from Hemingway--they seem to me to be the truest, simplest descriptions of hunger and cold.

I closed up the story in the notebook and put it in my inside pocket and I asked the waiter for a dozen portugaises and a half-carafe of the dry white wine they had there. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.

s I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

~~~

We burned boulets which were molded, egg-shaped lumps of coal dust, on the wood fire, and on the streets the winter light was beautiful. Now you were accustomed to see the bare trees against the sky and you walked on the fresh-washed gravel paths through the Luxembourg gardens in the clear sharp wind. The trees were sculpture without their leaves when you were
reconciled to them, and the winter winds blew across the surfaces of the ponds and the fountains blew in the bright light.

Incidentally...

[William Dyce: Pegwell Bay, a Recollection of October 5th 1858]

I had a French teacher in high school who would often begin many sentences with "Incidentally, ..." He would then launch into a disparate range of topics, rarely ones which could accurately be called "incidents." But the phrase stuck with me. (This was never in French of course, which would explain why 7 years of studying that language has left me capable of unraveling little more than bistro menus and Paris Vogue).

I was able to leave my place of employment at the "early" hour of 9:00 PM last night and, forgoing the swim I should have had, went straight home. I packed an incredible amount of reading, writing, listening, and leaping about into the hours before I finally tired myself out and retired (around 1 AM I should say). I felt, melodramatically, as if I had been uncaged for an evening, and in my freedom darted about between notes on the diary of Virginia Woolf; Rimbaud's Illuminations, Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and memory after memory.

I remembered my family's love of fires (both the sort contained by a hearth, and those that were a bit more dangerous and out-of-doors--incidentally, we once decided to destroy a large box which had served as a container for some sort of an appliance, and then as a sort of cat-chambers by burning it. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and we were sent running for pails of water by great burning chunks of cardboard. We all found this quite funny if I remember correctly...). I wished for a roaring fire like the sort we used to build, which I would lay in front of all through the winter. Cheek pressed against the scratchy rug, book tilted in front of my eyes and lit by warm, flickering light; turning from side to side as the fire would slowly warm until burning. Always on the side, thigh and one arm cool against the marble tiles, nose cold and then burnt and then cold again.

The cats would always lay perilously close to the fire, as if soaking up as much heat as felinely possible.

The smell of wood in all its forms: the sawed wood as one of the umpteenth home projects were occurring, the smell of damp bark and mulch in the woods, the smell of the burning firewood, slowly becoming cinders and ash.

As I thought these things last night, I would either be writing or reading; lying prone on the floor, supine on the bed, pacing about, stretching, taking breaks to switch albums (the CD sort).

Then I was sideswiped by a memory most vivid. It was from my weekend spent in Haworth, utterly alone, under a self-imposed vow of silence, re-tracing the steps of my beloved Brontes. I was transported back to the hike I made out to Top Withens, the chilly picnic I enjoyed out there, the sheep, the silver-green grass against well-worn and much-photographed stone. I walked the four miles back to town that night along a different road, briefly lost my way, worked up an enormous appetite, and arrived back to town for a supper of rosemary-currant chicken with roasted potatoes and a glass of shandy.

It was a wonderful evening.

A couple of passages from Hemingway--they seem to me to be the truest, simplest descriptions of hunger and cold.

I closed up the story in the notebook and put it in my inside pocket and I asked the waiter for a dozen portugaises and a half-carafe of the dry white wine they had there. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.

s I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

~~~

We burned boulets which were molded, egg-shaped lumps of coal dust, on the wood fire, and on the streets the winter light was beautiful. Now you were accustomed to see the bare trees against the sky and you walked on the fresh-washed gravel paths through the Luxembourg gardens in the clear sharp wind. The trees were sculpture without their leaves when you were
reconciled to them, and the winter winds blew across the surfaces of the ponds and the fountains blew in the bright light.

The Fourth Humour

Odilon Redon: Woman's Profile Under a Gothic Arch

Virginia Woolf wrote an essay (which I have not read) entitled "On Being Ill;" I'd like to do one "On Being Lazy."

I have a definite streak of lay-about in me--though it generally only manifests itself on rainy days or when a book is involved. When I used to work part-time at the espresso bar/bookshop, waking up at 5 am to open the shop on a Saturday, I would spend the rest of the day lounging and wandering from lunch to nap to sudoku to vintage clothes browsing. I would sometimes put on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg or Amelie and doze off to the sound of French voices.

This past weekend was happily expansive, quiet, and infinitely comfortable. I had tentatively planned to visit the Cervantes Institute with a friend (closed for the holiday); to purchase art supplies to begin my massive collaging project; and to take notes on the books that have made a colorful pile on my kitchen table. Instead, I found myself Connecticut-bound to visit friends and spend the weekend at house that was basically my surrogate home during college.

There were cocktails and wine (too much); dogs (just enough), gourmet brownies and homemade macaroons; Mystic Pizza; comfortable couches, a lot of rain, and a few pages of a few books.

I'm re-reading A Moveable Feast, and have turned to The Berlin Stories, but Christopher Isherwood (after
this post remedied an unfortunate gap in my reading). I've also recently completed William Trevor's Two Lives, three plays by August Strindberg, and quite a few essays out of Leopardi's Moral Tales. I'm finding them all delightful: Hemingway's and Isherwood's stories are just real enough for me to skim through the words, laughing lightly, imagining scenes and characters and encounters, but not becoming too caught up in making sense.

I love Hemingway's cold garret where the little skins of mandarines curl up on the frozen fire, popping a crackling and sending a charred-citrus-sugar scent into the air. Or his numbed fingers on cafe terraces; the white wine and oysters; the exhilaration of hunger in front of the Cezannes.

Isherwood's streets are grimier, the people more fantastic, less bright and shiny, but they're mesmerizing: kohl-rimmed eyes, emerald fingernails, screwed-on monocles. Their lies and deceptions are different, their vices lugubrious and half-accepted. I can finally see the world of Otto Dix and Georg Grosz and Kirchner. I can start to know those grotesque puffed-up faces, their contortions and their poses.

And there are just enough references to sanatoriums and cures, to winter sports and temperature charts for me to long for Hans and Settembrini and Naphta. In short; I will be embarking on a trip to the Magic Mountain once again; to the world of the ensorcelled, the seven-years-sleepers; the dissipated, irresponsible ill. Hunched shoulders and consumptive lungs; empty speeches and silenced passions. But the lovely music, the great, heavy book propped on my stomach as I recline; the visions of humanity and beauty and wonder; the slow awakening and return to vigor and strength and thought--its a powerful book, and my only copy is much too underlined!

The Fourth Humour

Odilon Redon: Woman's Profile Under a Gothic Arch

Virginia Woolf wrote an essay (which I have not read) entitled "On Being Ill;" I'd like to do one "On Being Lazy."

I have a definite streak of lay-about in me--though it generally only manifests itself on rainy days or when a book is involved. When I used to work part-time at the espresso bar/bookshop, waking up at 5 am to open the shop on a Saturday, I would spend the rest of the day lounging and wandering from lunch to nap to sudoku to vintage clothes browsing. I would sometimes put on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg or Amelie and doze off to the sound of French voices.

This past weekend was happily expansive, quiet, and infinitely comfortable. I had tentatively planned to visit the Cervantes Institute with a friend (closed for the holiday); to purchase art supplies to begin my massive collaging project; and to take notes on the books that have made a colorful pile on my kitchen table. Instead, I found myself Connecticut-bound to visit friends and spend the weekend at house that was basically my surrogate home during college.

There were cocktails and wine (too much); dogs (just enough), gourmet brownies and homemade macaroons; Mystic Pizza; comfortable couches, a lot of rain, and a few pages of a few books.

I'm re-reading A Moveable Feast, and have turned to The Berlin Stories, but Christopher Isherwood (after
this post remedied an unfortunate gap in my reading). I've also recently completed William Trevor's Two Lives, three plays by August Strindberg, and quite a few essays out of Leopardi's Moral Tales. I'm finding them all delightful: Hemingway's and Isherwood's stories are just real enough for me to skim through the words, laughing lightly, imagining scenes and characters and encounters, but not becoming too caught up in making sense.

I love Hemingway's cold garret where the little skins of mandarines curl up on the frozen fire, popping a crackling and sending a charred-citrus-sugar scent into the air. Or his numbed fingers on cafe terraces; the white wine and oysters; the exhilaration of hunger in front of the Cezannes.

Isherwood's streets are grimier, the people more fantastic, less bright and shiny, but they're mesmerizing: kohl-rimmed eyes, emerald fingernails, screwed-on monocles. Their lies and deceptions are different, their vices lugubrious and half-accepted. I can finally see the world of Otto Dix and Georg Grosz and Kirchner. I can start to know those grotesque puffed-up faces, their contortions and their poses.

And there are just enough references to sanatoriums and cures, to winter sports and temperature charts for me to long for Hans and Settembrini and Naphta. In short; I will be embarking on a trip to the Magic Mountain once again; to the world of the ensorcelled, the seven-years-sleepers; the dissipated, irresponsible ill. Hunched shoulders and consumptive lungs; empty speeches and silenced passions. But the lovely music, the great, heavy book propped on my stomach as I recline; the visions of humanity and beauty and wonder; the slow awakening and return to vigor and strength and thought--its a powerful book, and my only copy is much too underlined!

Pull My Daisy

(Robert Frank 1959)(Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso)


I promise this isn't turning into a "post a video and call it a day" sort of blog. If you like the Beat generation, even a little bit, you should watch this.

It's by Robert Frank, voiceover by Jack Kerouac. It's long for a video clip, but quite worth it. Enjoy the (ahem) Italian subtitles.

Pull My Daisy

(Robert Frank 1959)(Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso)


I promise this isn't turning into a "post a video and call it a day" sort of blog. If you like the Beat generation, even a little bit, you should watch this.

It's by Robert Frank, voiceover by Jack Kerouac. It's long for a video clip, but quite worth it. Enjoy the (ahem) Italian subtitles.

Help!

It has to be Hopscotch...I can't think of any other recently-read book where the scenario could be possible...

______________________________

Anyone know the title of the book wherein a male character, arguing with a female character steps on the duck that she had been preparing for them to eat?

All I can remember is that they eat duck only once a week, that when he steps on it, he crushes the ribcage and that the female character remarks upon this to a friend, and that the argument turns to laughter.

Help!

It has to be Hopscotch...I can't think of any other recently-read book where the scenario could be possible...

______________________________

Anyone know the title of the book wherein a male character, arguing with a female character steps on the duck that she had been preparing for them to eat?

All I can remember is that they eat duck only once a week, that when he steps on it, he crushes the ribcage and that the female character remarks upon this to a friend, and that the argument turns to laughter.

On Music (A Modern Epistle)


An embedded clip from Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back
(I very much love figuring out new tricks!)


We took a brief tour of the Morgan Library's Bob Dylan exhibit on Saturday and I found myself with a new fixation. Their showing of Bob Dylan: The American Journey 1956-1966 could be seen as simply a collection of (often uninteresting) memorabilia, but they had some truly excellent objects and experiences interspersed.
Many listening booths, an impressive assortment of hand-printed concert advertisements, and enough video clips of Dylan to make me fall in love.

My favorite was not the one above, but rather a short clip that was playing just as we walked through the entrance: Dylan as vibrant, eccentric, jumpy, and doing some sort of madlibs-esque nonsensical recitation. He was wearing a velvet blazer, drainpipes, boots, and had his "shock" of hair. It was fantastic. I need to find this clip and watch it again and again. I love his sarcasm, the hauteur, the unapologetic strumming, smoking, speaking.

I'm also now going to be tracking down a copy of Don't Look Back and Eat the Document so I can continue to watch and puzzle over why I am so drawn to his face. He radiates style and character and persona; such a complicated man--so clearly making an effort to craft himself as well as his music, but never coming off as false. I am puzzled how someone so conscious of his movements, words, and audience can still seem so original.

A few years ago I picked up a book called Flowers in the Dustbin by James Miller. I had always wished I were more musical, capable of writing songs, putting them to music, singing them with grit and sincerity and melancholy. I loved the rockstars, the poets, the innovators. I read through Miller's description of the foundations of American music, of the deep-rooted music that grew out of so many cultures, ideas, and traditions. And I read of the innovators, the people who shook us up, who made the ear recognize a new sound and the body respond to new rhythms.

Music started to mean a lot more to me, perhaps I was just learning the narrative power of song, or the incredibly natural feeling of playing an instrument and singing, but I picked up my father's 70s Alvarez and started to take guitar lessons. I didn't get very far (though I like to think that if I took some time to practice and learn, I would be pretty decent), but I did realize that playing a song, any song, even strumming the same chords in different patterns while thinking up words in your head, it lets something loosen up. The character Maude (in one of the best movies ever: Harold & Maude) says to Harold that everyone should be able to play a little music!

I agree with her (and with an awful lot of what Maude says in that movie). Music and dance are one of the greatest gifts we have

On Music (A Modern Epistle)


An embedded clip from Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back
(I very much love figuring out new tricks!)


We took a brief tour of the Morgan Library's Bob Dylan exhibit on Saturday and I found myself with a new fixation. Their showing of Bob Dylan: The American Journey 1956-1966 could be seen as simply a collection of (often uninteresting) memorabilia, but they had some truly excellent objects and experiences interspersed.
Many listening booths, an impressive assortment of hand-printed concert advertisements, and enough video clips of Dylan to make me fall in love.

My favorite was not the one above, but rather a short clip that was playing just as we walked through the entrance: Dylan as vibrant, eccentric, jumpy, and doing some sort of madlibs-esque nonsensical recitation. He was wearing a velvet blazer, drainpipes, boots, and had his "shock" of hair. It was fantastic. I need to find this clip and watch it again and again. I love his sarcasm, the hauteur, the unapologetic strumming, smoking, speaking.

I'm also now going to be tracking down a copy of Don't Look Back and Eat the Document so I can continue to watch and puzzle over why I am so drawn to his face. He radiates style and character and persona; such a complicated man--so clearly making an effort to craft himself as well as his music, but never coming off as false. I am puzzled how someone so conscious of his movements, words, and audience can still seem so original.

A few years ago I picked up a book called Flowers in the Dustbin by James Miller. I had always wished I were more musical, capable of writing songs, putting them to music, singing them with grit and sincerity and melancholy. I loved the rockstars, the poets, the innovators. I read through Miller's description of the foundations of American music, of the deep-rooted music that grew out of so many cultures, ideas, and traditions. And I read of the innovators, the people who shook us up, who made the ear recognize a new sound and the body respond to new rhythms.

Music started to mean a lot more to me, perhaps I was just learning the narrative power of song, or the incredibly natural feeling of playing an instrument and singing, but I picked up my father's 70s Alvarez and started to take guitar lessons. I didn't get very far (though I like to think that if I took some time to practice and learn, I would be pretty decent), but I did realize that playing a song, any song, even strumming the same chords in different patterns while thinking up words in your head, it lets something loosen up. The character Maude (in one of the best movies ever: Harold & Maude) says to Harold that everyone should be able to play a little music!

I agree with her (and with an awful lot of what Maude says in that movie). Music and dance are one of the greatest gifts we have

Wait! There's More

Kirchner

Well, I am certainly not one to post more than once in a single day, but these are interesting circumstances.

Earlier today I had a fantastic friend on the phone and happened to ask if he thought I were too strange...affectedly strange (I completely support authentic strange-ness). I had lately been wondering if my new comfort amongst my own quirks was really just a well-disguised offshoot of vanity, or whether it was a constructive, fertile thing. And I have had other moments this week where I have had to stop and wonder if I weren't perhaps becoming a bore...a true bore.

There's nothing more abhorrent to my mind than falsity, boorishness and general obliviousness.

And then I watched Grey Gardens.
(pause to thoroughly enjoy Regina Spektor's Samson...playing right now).

And I saw the essential problem.

When one lives too much alone, one runs the risk of becoming too much of an individual. Too sclerotic. I have lately realized that living alone has been my great liberator--but that the thing I have to watch for most is the complacency that comes with having the power to arrange entirely one's own life. Complacency is the greatest danger facing someone who has the freedom to stretch and breathe deep and indulge a little. It is much too easy to cease all challenges, all questioning, to accept oneself as the rule and measure. And there is ABSOLUTELY nothing interesting about that.

There is a strange line between the developing individual and the sclerotic individual. (Taking the idea of a sclerotic character from my before-quoted Julio Cortazar).

I don't quite know what I'm looking for, but I know that it is often found in that hiccup of emotion in my throat, in that exploration of entirely new ground, in the poignant recognition of a face/name/view/experience that has passed me by before. I know that human beings are largely (and necessarily) made of vanity (self-love). I know that it is the fault I should watch for most. But I also know that there is nothing more stimulating than meeting someone who has taken their own life in both hands--to mold, to watch, to flow freely.

What to do with life? What to make of it? What to think of it? It must be more than a collage. It must be more than a perfect composition. It must be more than individual and general.

And when ever I think of an individual thrown into the middle of a great massy society, the image of Kirchner's little girl always come to my mind. The frenzy surrounding, the immense loneliness of her figure, the inward-pressing tone of the compostion. It feels like that sometimes, like the boundaries are caving in a little, like the world is becoming altogether unbearable, unfathomable.

A Concerto helps (Its Mendelssohn's Viloin Concerto in E Minor at the moment), a glass of a new pinot grigio helps, the thought of browsing at the Strand helps, and thought of meeting new people, of working out my own ridges and inconsistencies and surrendering more and more of my vanities helps.

Wait! There's More

Kirchner

Well, I am certainly not one to post more than once in a single day, but these are interesting circumstances.

Earlier today I had a fantastic friend on the phone and happened to ask if he thought I were too strange...affectedly strange (I completely support authentic strange-ness). I had lately been wondering if my new comfort amongst my own quirks was really just a well-disguised offshoot of vanity, or whether it was a constructive, fertile thing. And I have had other moments this week where I have had to stop and wonder if I weren't perhaps becoming a bore...a true bore.

There's nothing more abhorrent to my mind than falsity, boorishness and general obliviousness.

And then I watched Grey Gardens.
(pause to thoroughly enjoy Regina Spektor's Samson...playing right now).

And I saw the essential problem.

When one lives too much alone, one runs the risk of becoming too much of an individual. Too sclerotic. I have lately realized that living alone has been my great liberator--but that the thing I have to watch for most is the complacency that comes with having the power to arrange entirely one's own life. Complacency is the greatest danger facing someone who has the freedom to stretch and breathe deep and indulge a little. It is much too easy to cease all challenges, all questioning, to accept oneself as the rule and measure. And there is ABSOLUTELY nothing interesting about that.

There is a strange line between the developing individual and the sclerotic individual. (Taking the idea of a sclerotic character from my before-quoted Julio Cortazar).

I don't quite know what I'm looking for, but I know that it is often found in that hiccup of emotion in my throat, in that exploration of entirely new ground, in the poignant recognition of a face/name/view/experience that has passed me by before. I know that human beings are largely (and necessarily) made of vanity (self-love). I know that it is the fault I should watch for most. But I also know that there is nothing more stimulating than meeting someone who has taken their own life in both hands--to mold, to watch, to flow freely.

What to do with life? What to make of it? What to think of it? It must be more than a collage. It must be more than a perfect composition. It must be more than individual and general.

And when ever I think of an individual thrown into the middle of a great massy society, the image of Kirchner's little girl always come to my mind. The frenzy surrounding, the immense loneliness of her figure, the inward-pressing tone of the compostion. It feels like that sometimes, like the boundaries are caving in a little, like the world is becoming altogether unbearable, unfathomable.

A Concerto helps (Its Mendelssohn's Viloin Concerto in E Minor at the moment), a glass of a new pinot grigio helps, the thought of browsing at the Strand helps, and thought of meeting new people, of working out my own ridges and inconsistencies and surrendering more and more of my vanities helps.

Dwellings


I forgot the most important memory that had been haunting me!

Eating green tea mochi in the bathtub...my claw-footed bathtub in Annapolis. I used to spend every night in that bathtub, with glorious mounds of bubbles or white tea infusions, but always with three little green tea mochi which I would eat sowly, the first retaining its frozen inside but the last held together only by that fantastic shell they have.

I actually took a picture of this bathtub before I left it, the little claw nails had even been painted black to contrast with the porcelain of the rest of the tub. It was the best.

That entire apartment was the best. These were the views from my kitchen (which doubled as a study):

(the magnolia tree that amazed me as much as Anne's Snow Queen)


If I could return there now...the beautiful, strange people, the highest heights reached, the cold snaps of morning, tea shops, coffee shops, ice cream shops, the water and the bridge. And the school! I miss it more than any place I've ever been. Those were the richest, most difficult, most surprising two years of my life.

Dwellings


I forgot the most important memory that had been haunting me!

Eating green tea mochi in the bathtub...my claw-footed bathtub in Annapolis. I used to spend every night in that bathtub, with glorious mounds of bubbles or white tea infusions, but always with three little green tea mochi which I would eat sowly, the first retaining its frozen inside but the last held together only by that fantastic shell they have.

I actually took a picture of this bathtub before I left it, the little claw nails had even been painted black to contrast with the porcelain of the rest of the tub. It was the best.

That entire apartment was the best. These were the views from my kitchen (which doubled as a study):

(the magnolia tree that amazed me as much as Anne's Snow Queen)


If I could return there now...the beautiful, strange people, the highest heights reached, the cold snaps of morning, tea shops, coffee shops, ice cream shops, the water and the bridge. And the school! I miss it more than any place I've ever been. Those were the richest, most difficult, most surprising two years of my life.

Tossed and Tumbled

Durer's Melancholia I


What a mercurial creature I am! Earlier today my mind was like an open window, or perhaps the shutter beside the window, content to let the play of light and shadow dapple, shine, recede, anything. A bit distanced and aloof, but happy happy happy.

And now so tightened, all scrambled up, all twisted.

I was earlier thinking of the crunch of gravel on my old driveway--the telltale sign of a visitor. And then of the memory that floods me when I wake up with cold shoulders and/or toes. Of the cold look of the stone outside of my window.

I was rolling about in my mind V. Woolf's descriptions of their tour through Greece and the Balkan countries and savoring the finely crafted phrases, so full of emotion, so free of cliche.

I was loving the jauntiness of my new frock, the little bow at the back, the drop waist, the purply-grey boucle.

The stolen macaroon and its pistachio yumminess and easy reference to a storybook life.

No more. Now I am a tight rubber ball, no comfort, no contentment. I need a ray of sunshine, a gust of wind, the rustle of leaves.

I do not need this.

Tossed and Tumbled

Durer's Melancholia I


What a mercurial creature I am! Earlier today my mind was like an open window, or perhaps the shutter beside the window, content to let the play of light and shadow dapple, shine, recede, anything. A bit distanced and aloof, but happy happy happy.

And now so tightened, all scrambled up, all twisted.

I was earlier thinking of the crunch of gravel on my old driveway--the telltale sign of a visitor. And then of the memory that floods me when I wake up with cold shoulders and/or toes. Of the cold look of the stone outside of my window.

I was rolling about in my mind V. Woolf's descriptions of their tour through Greece and the Balkan countries and savoring the finely crafted phrases, so full of emotion, so free of cliche.

I was loving the jauntiness of my new frock, the little bow at the back, the drop waist, the purply-grey boucle.

The stolen macaroon and its pistachio yumminess and easy reference to a storybook life.

No more. Now I am a tight rubber ball, no comfort, no contentment. I need a ray of sunshine, a gust of wind, the rustle of leaves.

I do not need this.