Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quote: Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno

Chester Himes
"Chester Himes arrived in Paris on April 11, 1953, with a broken toe, the result of another pre-departure altercation with his former girlfriend Vandi Haygood. This was not the dramatic incident referred to above; it was just another in a series of disputes with Haygood. On the voyage over, he had begun a romance with a middle-aged white woman from Boston, Alva Van Olden.* On debarking she was met by her husband, a dentist from Luxembourg, and set off with him for their home in that country, having vowed to return to Himes by May. But at the moment of his arrival in France, Himes had no idea of what to make of this affair. He was simply hoping that his old friend Richard Wright and Yves Malartic would be on hand to meet him at the train station in Paris as they had promised. He was toting several suitcases. His toe hurt. He had no idea where to put up for the night in a strange city in a strange country. "It is no small thing to leave the United States at age forty-three--especially if you ar ea black man and have never been farther than Montreal.," Himes remarked. But here he was, in the middle of the night in Paris, and no one was there to meet him."

"After waiting at the Gare St.-Lazare for a while, Himes took a taxi to Wright's. A concierge, however, quickly appeared in front of Wright's building, barring the way. By then the taxi had departed and Himes was left on the street with his mountain of luggage. Eventually he got another taxi, went back to the station, then finally to a hotel he remembered Wright had recommended in one of his early letters, just a few blocks from his house. The next morning Himes was awakened by a furious pounding on his  door. When he opened it, a frantic Richard Wright stood in the hallway. They exchanged stories of the mixup. As it turned out, Wright and Malartic had been at the station to meet him but had been on the wrong end of the platform. When Himes did not appear, Wright became quite concerned. That morning he decided to notify the police, and he stopped by the hotel to cancel the reservation he had made for Himes. It was then that he learned Himes was asleep upstairs.

--Christopher Sawyer-Lauçonno, from "The Legacy of Hurt," in The Continual Pilgrimage: American Writers in Paris, 1944-1960, San Francisco, City Lights Books: 1992, p. 184.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Easy Art Salon, featuring Erica Doyle and Reggie Harris

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to participate once again in ongoing Easy Art Salon series, hosted at the beautiful Brooklyn home of scholar and writer Robert Reid-Pharr. Instead of reading I served as curator, and invited award-winning poets R. Erica Doyle and Reginald Harris, both of whom have new books out this year, to read and talk about their work before an intimate audience. One of the hallmarks of the series is its laid-back feel, and it was an increasingly warm and muggy evening so everyone was probably a bit more relaxed than usual, but both poets brought their own special heat and the event to a lively crescendo.

Erica read first, from her first full collection Proxy (Belladonna Press, 2013), and led us into a world bracketed by 9/11 and loss, and animated by the politics of desire and sex. Erica is a brilliant storyteller, and drew upon her narrative skills in creating a poetic portrait of a life in and out of crisis. Reggie read from Autogeography, his second book, which won this past year's Cave Canem/Northwestern University Press Second Book Prize. A map of a self or selves, Reggie's poems guided us, as Erica superbly put it during the Q&A, like thread through a needle into his distinctive vision. As part of the event, artist Ricardo Osmondo Francis exhibited selected works, all of which were for sale, at $100 and under.

Afterwards, the reading turned into a little party, a great way to close out a beautiful Sunday evening of poetry and art.
The reading (Erica reading), Easy Art Salon
The readers, Reginald Harris and Erica Doyle
(your truly at left in the striped shirt)
(photo by David Barclay Moore)
Reggie listening as Erica reads, Easy Art Salon
Reggie watching as Erica reads from Proxy
People listening (Mark at right)
Two members of the audience (Mark at right)
The audience at Easy Art Salon
The audience
The audience
More members of the audience
(Robert at right, in the salmon shirt)
Erica listening as Reggie reads, Easy Art Salon
Erica watching as Reggie reads
Ricardo Osmondo Francis, with his artwork
Artist Ricardo Osmondo Francis
with some of his artwork

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Poet's Showcase at Poets House

Every year Poets House has its marvelous Showcase of newly published books, and its series of readings that coincide with the display.  This past Tuesday featured two writers I know and deeply admire, and two whose work I was not at all familiar with, but now have some appreciation for. What I loved about the reading is that although Poets House has one of the largest libraries of poetry, of all kinds, in New York or anywhere else, it also invites writers in other genres to present their work, and the final two writers, Thomas Glave and Rachel Levitsky, though they are published poets, read from new prose works.

Thomas, whom I've known for two decades, read an essay on beauty, violence, homophobia, and courage set in and drawn from his experiences in his ancestral Jamaica and in particular with the human rights organization J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays), which appears in his newly published and acclaimed book of essays and imaginative prose pieces, Among the Bloodpeople: Politics & Flesh (Akashic Books, 2013).  One of the many things his reading, which began with his invocation of a vulnerable queer Jamaican person viewing the astonishingly beautiful sea and sky that envelope the island, stirred in me was a reminder yet again not only of how precious and precarious life remains for some of us, but how important art can be in focusing our attention on addressing pressing problems, and on what is most important and crucial not only in our own lives, but in the lives of others, especially those we cannot otherwise see or understand, which art can help to do. I look forward the reading the entire collection and sharing it with my students.

Rachel, whom I've also known for many years, also read from a new prose work, a novel entitled The Story of My Accident Is Ours (Futurepoem Books, 2013), and before beginning she talked about her poetic practice and how she had already been writing in and around prose, thereby paving the way for her transition to her lyrical novel. One theme I took away from her work was the vitality of the novel form, which a certain sector of the literary commentariat continues to pronounce dead, much in the manner that a similar sector regular decries the death of poetry, or its obsolescence, or lack of social relevance or public appeal, especially as more women, writers of color, queer writers, writers using new technologies and creating new genres, emerge. The snippet I heard of Rachel's novel suggests it makes a vital contribution, and I am looking forward to reading the entire work.

Catherine Barnett, the evening's first reader, shared poems from her new collection The Game of Boxes (Graywolf Press, 2012), as well as some very new poems, many short, all attentive to the possibilities of their internal music, cadence, and silence, and her final one, from even more recent poems struck me as very simple in its effects but moving in the way she made a casual, personal observation into something profound and memorable. The fourth reader, Peter Filkins, a noted translator as well as poet, presented poems from his collection The View We’re Granted (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). He opened with a poem about two unusually thick birches that had stood in the front yard of the home in which he grew up and once again lives in, in western Massachusetts, and closed with a poem about maple trees, filling the space between them with poems brimming with his erudition, but handled with a light touch.

All in all a wonderful way to spend a warm mid-summer evening. Photos follow:

Stephen Motika, at Showcase Reading, Poets House
Stephen Motika of Poets House, introducing the reading
The audience, at Showcase Reading, Poets House
Part of the audience
Catherine Barnett, at Showcase Reading, Poets House
Catherine Barnett
Peter Filkins, at Showcase Reading, Poets House
Peter Filkins
Thomas Glave, at Showcase Reading, Poets House
Thomas Glave
Rachel Levitsky, at Showcase Reading, Poets House
Rachel Levitsky

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Random Photos

The eyes have it, Fulton St.
The eyes have it, Fulton St.
The Declaration of Independence, on brief display
The Declaration of Independence,
briefly on public display
Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center
Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center
On the train
On the subway train to (or was it from?) Harlem
Crowded subway
Hustle and bustle
Near Port Authority, Midtown
Near Port Authority, Midtown
A regular sight in NYC
A common sight on Manhattan
streets, people seeking financial help
72nd St. Station, UWS
72nd St. station, Upper West Side
Stretching, Jersey City
Stretching, Jersey City
Viewing Saturn, Lincoln Center
Looking for and at Saturn, Lincoln Center
After closing hours, Kraverie, Jersey City
After hours, Kraverie, Jersey City
Breaking down a table, Midtown
Breaking down a street vending table, Midtown
Street construction project, UWS
Repairing a sewer (?), Upper West Side
In Morningside Park, Harlem
Morningside Park, Harlem
On the PATH
On the PATH, from Jersey City
Repairing the escalator, 34th St., Manhattan
Repairing the escalator, 34th St. station
Filming a commercial, 5th Ave.
Filming a commercial, 5th Avenue
Shooting an ad, Jersey City
Shooting a campaign, Jersey City
Man with an "I hate berlin" bag
Man with "i hate berlin" bag, Midtown

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Emotional Outreach Project 5.0 Now Live in Berlin!

TRD-Berlin @ REH-Kunst
If you happen to be in Berlin up through the end of August, please do visit This Red Door's exhibition space there, where you'll see amidst the many exciting performances, installations, readings and talks, and artworks on display my little Emotional Outreach cards, which, I think it's fair to say, may be especially appropriate given the particular moment we're living through right now. Here are some photos, courtesy of TRD and Jomar Statkun, of the TRD-Berlin space, at REH Kunst, and of the Emotional Outreach Project display.

And don't forget, if you do pick up some cards, and give them away, use them or just have thoughts about them, feel free to drop me a note at fieldresearchstudygroup [AT] or [AT] So far I've been bombarded with appeals from my overseas brethren to help them gain release of their impounded funds, but I'd much rather receive even brief notes about the cards and their use! Vielen dank!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who Edited Shakespeare?

William Shakespeare
As every writer knows, there is nothing like a great editor. Even for the most talented among us. Including William Shakespeare. Debates continue about who exactly Shakespeare was, and whether or not he or someone else wrote his plays and poems. I stand on the side of those who attribute most of the words and work to the Bard of Avon--and the actors who were involved in performing and shaping his plays as a result--and not any of the other people whose names have been bandied about as the actual authors. But a question still remains: when William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, also known as the First Folio, appeared in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, someone, or several people, had to have edited it, and the given what we know about the two figures whose names are attached to it, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, it's unlikely that they had the knowledge, time or dedication to do so. So who edited Shakespeare?

Here's where an attentive eye and close reading, and the possibilities enabled by the digital humanities come into play. In The Guardian, author Saul Frampton guides us through his argument, eventually to be a book, that a certain John Florio (1553-1625) probably unknown to all but the most assiduous scholars of the English Renaissance and literary world, not only was the likely editor of Shakespeare's First Folio, but in some cases revised and rewrote Shakespeare's plays. Not being a Shakespearean scholar, Frampton's argument sounds like a big deal to me, but perhaps it is old knowledge among people in that field. (I checked, and it turns out that there have been arguments that Florio's father, Michelangelo Florio, wrote Shakespeare's plays, or that Florio may have written them completely by himself; his role as editor has been less discussed.) What Frampton recounts, and how he goes about his argument, I continue to find utterly persuasive and enthralling.

John Florio
The short is that Frampton, like many a scholar and reader before him, compared the First Folio with some of the extant quartos of Shakespeare's plays, and noticed differences between them, chiefly in terms of form standardization in the later compendium, but especially in terms of linguistic differences. I recall enough from my study of Shakespeare to remember this particular argument, which I also recall leading to discussions of whether Shakespeare, the players, some other very learned figure or some combo of all of the preceding wrote the plays or not. Digitization of the quartos, however, makes such comparisons much easier. What digitization has also made easier is comparison to other works during the same period, and the occurrence and frequency of certain words in Shakespeare's oeuvre as well as in the work of his contemporaries. What Frampton has found--if I am reading the article right, and this is his finding, or his synthesis of others' findings--is that a number of words that appear in the Folio do not appear elsewhere in Shakespeare's work, but they do appear, with great frequency in the writings of John Florio, who very well may have been figured, in various ways, in several of Shakespeare's works.

Who was Florio? Born in England eleven years before Shakespeare, and the son of an Italian Protestant immigrant (of Jewish religious ancestry) who fled back to Italy during the brief Catholic Restoration under Queen Mary I, Florio returned to his native country in the 1570s and made his mark, Frampton says, as a scholar, lexicographer and translator. His books included several landmark language treatises, First Fruits of 1578 and Second Fruits of 1591, a 1590 edited version of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, and his career-making translations, the Essays of Montaigne in 1603 and Bocaccio's Decameron in 1620, as well as two major English-Italian dictionaries. His prodigiousness extends to the level of language itself: third only to Chaucer and Shakespeare, Florio, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the source of 1,224 first usages in written English, including such still-used words as "judicious," "management," "transcription," "masturbation" and "fucker." Yes, "management"!

Moreover, he had links to Isaac Jaggard and Edward Blount, the First Folio's printers, who each had printed several of his works. The First Folio's dedicatees, William and Philip Herbert, also had links to Florio all the way back to his father's era. Frampton points out that Florio, given his learned and literary background, deep knowledge of publishing, and links to both men, was an obvious choice as editor. He also knew William Shakespeare as well, and what's unclear to Frampton is whether the two men had beef, and whether Shakespeare was not mocking Florio in several of his characters, including not just Osric in Hamlet, but in Malvolio and Shylock (because, as I noted, Florio's father had Jewish ancestors). Frampton adds that scholar Jonathan Bate argues that the infamous "Dark Lady" of one-third of Shakespeare's sonnets may have been Florio's wife. By the time Shakespeare died, Florio was sailing through economically constrained straits, having not received a promised pension, and editing Shakespeare and further strengthening ties to the wealthy Herberts would have been to his advantage in more ways than one.

But this sounds like so much fascinating but circumstantial speculation. Where Frampton really begins to prove his supposition is when he goes to the texts themselves, and begins pointing out how the linguistically inventive Florio's diction and terms, found in his own texts, start to pop in the Folio versions of texts where it had not existed in the older quarto versions or anywhere else in Shakespeare's or even his major peers' works. Let me quote him directly:

If we look at Hamlet, for instance, we notice that the editor of the Folio introduces a number of unusual words to the text. Thus in Act 1 scene 5, Hamlet instructs his sinews to bear him "swiftly up" to revenge. The Folio changes the quarto's "swiftly" to "stiffely", a word never used elsewhere by Shakespeare but familiar to Florio, who uses it four times. In Act 5 scene 2, "breed" is changed to "beauy" (bevy), again a word never used elsewhere by Shakespeare but which Florio uses three times. And the same can be said of a number of unusual additions to the play – words such as "pratlings", "checking", "detecting", "quicknesse", "diddest", "daintier", "hurling" and "roaming". In Act 2 scene 2, Polonius tells how Hamlet was "repell'd" (rejected) by Ophelia. The Folio changes "repell'd" to "repulsed", the latter a familiar word now, but one never used elsewhere by Shakespeare, or Marlowe or Jonson. But such a substitution would occur naturally to Florio, who uses "repulsed" four times, defining the Italian Ripulso as "repulsed, repelled".

This pattern continues throughout the Folio, in Henry V, where the word "demonstrated" in the quarto version becomes "demonstrative" in the Folio, a word that not only Shakespeare, but neither Marlowe or Jonson used either, but which Florio used 20 times in his own work; or in Henry IV, Part One, the quarto's "intemperance" becomes the Folio's "intemperature," again a word Shakespeare (or Marlowe or Jonson) never used anywhere else, but which Florio uses in his work. Another strange coincidence involves the statement in Henry IV, Part Two, that the King entered "on the Tarras," which Frampton notes Shakespeare have never used before nor ever again anywhere in his work, but which appears 13 times in Florio's translation of The Decameron. The pattern continues in other Folio plays, both in terms of changes that favor Florio's lexicon, as well as rare words--"longly," "mothy," "queasines"--that appear not infrequently in Florio's writings, as well as some that appear only there, such as "enfoldings" and "swaruer" ("swarver"?).

There are also instances where the editor expands and supplements Shakespeare's language, plumping it out rhetorically, making inferences more obvious, as in King Lear, where Frampton shows someone at work drawing out Shakespeare's thought(s), creating not just amplitude but a richer and more emphatic statement (the words in italics are the Folio additions), as in this statement by Gloucester, in Act 1, Sc. 2:

In Cities, mutinies, Countries, discord; in Pallaces, Treason; and the Bond crack'd, 'twixt Sonne and Father. This villaine of mine comes vnder the prediction; there's Son against Father, the King fals from byas of Nature, there's Father against Childe. We haue seene the best of our time. Machinations, hollownesse, treacherie, and all ruinous disorders follow vs disquietly to our Graues. Find out this Villain, Edmond, it shall lose thee nothing …

The original version relies on blank verse, as well as several rhetorical devices, including rhyme, parallelism and hysteron proteron, and the extreme concision of asyndeton and ellipsis to convey Gloucester's quick insight. The Folio editor, however, creates prose, adds, repeats and clarifies what must be worked at in the quarto original, giving himself away, Frampton notes, by some of the words that, as I have said before, appear nowhere else in Shakespeare but do pop up in Florio's own work. Frampton's insight may also explain the fact that Gonzalo's vision in The Tempest has long been known to have been lifted straight out of Florio's own translation of Montaigne's essay "Of Cannibals", but the borrowing was thought to have been Shakespeare's. It very well now might be viewed as Florio having added his own work, which is to say, his and Montaigne's, to that of the master dramatist.

Then there is Frampton's query, which also is explosive assertion: that Florio may have removed or edited a reference to himself in Hamlet, but also might have done so with other Shakespearean plays as well. This leads Frampton to note that given how little we know--and lacking the kinds of powerful search tools now available many generations of Shakespearean scholars, though they have discussed Florio in various ways, appear to have overlooked the profound role he played--it may remain unclear just how extensive a role he played not just in editing, but writing and rewriting Shakespeare's "ragged written copy." Alongside this, there might have been particular motivations for Florio's effort: in addition to having the lines of a character, the clown Feste, correct the grammar and spelling in a letter he quotes that was written about Malvolio, the putative stand-in for Florio, a letter he neither heard read aloud nor repeated. In the play, however, Malvolio gets the last word(s), and, Frampton implies, they very well may have been Florio's guiding point: "Ile be reueng'd on the whole packe of you."

I often say I plan to read works I blog about, and I do try to do so whenever I can, but I can assure any reader here that as soon as I can get my hands on Frampton's study, I will. Until then, here's to Shakespeare, Florio, Frampton, dramaturgy, scholarship, literary study, reading, the digital humanities, and linguistic invention!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fiction As An Aid to Thinking, or: Jacobs on Ambiguity

It has been a while since I've posted on current cognitive and brain science research that underlines the importance and power of imaginative writing, particularly fictional narratives, but then I came across Tom Jacobs' article last month in Pacific Standard, "Want to Learn How to Think? Read More," and realized I ought to write a little here about the work Jacobs discusses, and some of its implications. I should start by pointing that Jacobs' title misleads; he is writing not so much about learning how to think as about the distinctive ways researchers have found that reading certain kinds of texts, particularly fictional ones, shape and affect our thinking.

In his Pacific Standard article he focuses on recent findings by three psychologists at the University of Toronto, led by Maja Djikic, Senior Research Scholar and Director of the Self-Development Laboratory at Toronto's Rotman School of Management, who, in a paper they co-published earlier this year in The Creativity Research Journal, "Opening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure," discovered that people reading works of fiction, as opposed to works of nonfiction, tended when tested afterward to show more capacity for ambiguity as opposed to a need for order and cognitive closure.

In the experiment, Djikic and colleagues had 100 Toronto undergraduates read one of either 8 short stories, by major fiction writers including Wallace Stegner and Jean Stafford, or one of 8 short nonfiction pieces by major nonfiction writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Stephen Jay Gould.  Afterwards the study participants completed a survey measuring their "need for certainty and stability," based on questions such as "I don't like situations that are uncertain," and what Djikic and her co-researchers found was that the students reading the works of fiction scored "significantly" lower than those reading the nonfiction.

What the researchers also registered was that among self-described frequent readers of fiction or nonfiction, the effect was "particularly pronounced." They posited that this might be an effect of fiction's not requiring a reader to come to a definite conclusion (though we often do, or wrestle with one), and a result of the imaginative simulation of thinking styles--and I would add, behavior, spatial experiences, perceptions, etc.--of characters of all kinds. Jacobs quotes the paper, which says:

One can think along and even feel along with Humbert Humbert in Lolita, no matter how offensive one finds this character. This double release—of thinking through events without concerns for urgency and permanence, and thinking in ways that are different than one’s own—may produce effects of opening the mind.

I would add, as I have before in prior entries on this topic, that global and local effects of works of fiction work on our minds in various ways. Not only in terms of simulative thinking, but also in the ways that characterization, voice and plot, to pick three key elements, generate cognitive embodiment and mirroring effects. I would also point out that drilling down to the granular level, language itself is crucial here. Specific words and their effects, perceived through the ascending matrices of phonemic arrangement up through syntactic effects to the level of paragraphs, on up to the movement of the narrative itself, work, often unconsciously, in and on our minds.

Jacobs ends by gesturing, as so many articles of this type do, by putting the empirical in service of the instrumental, particularly government and corporate educational policy. He cites Djikic and her colleagues appeal, in their paper, for a rethinking of the current approach of diminished funding for and support of the arts and humanities, which is occurring at every educational level across the US. Additionally, at a moment when there are discussions about the "crisis" in the humanities (which is to say, discussions about alleged shrinking enrollments and majors, as well as decreased funding), and at a moment where science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) study, in the service of the domestic and global careers and economies, dominate, the findings of Djikic and her colleagues, offer an important counterpoint.

Moreover, like similar studies I have posted about before, these findings should remind us that literature, especially imaginative writing and especially fiction, poetry and drama, are anything but frivolous and unworthy of our attention, that we still do not fully understand how they work, even after centuries of exploring them, and that counter to what someone like Lee Siegel says, they are very much worth not just enjoying as entertainment, but examining in a variety of ways within academe. They are among the oldest and demonstrably powerful creative technologies that human beings have created, and we should not forget this.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"My Soul Is Weary With Sorrow"

Trayvon Martin, 1995-2012

"My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 119:28

Shortly before we learned last night of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, C said to me, he's going to be convicted, and I said he would be found not guilty of the February 26, 2012 killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Any number of clues during the trial's run pointed in this direction, but I also thought at that moment of the innumerable times over the span of my life on this earth, of the innumerable times over the nearly 400 years of colonial and US history, during which black and brown people have been killed, with impunity, which is to say, with the support of the state and its various systems, including the law.

I thought about how the killing of black and brown people is a feature of the creation and history of this state, and many others, including our and their laws.

I thought about how we live in a society and in a system in which the concept of justice is often a phantasm, a mere word, often made to function as its inverse, especially when it comes to black and brown people.

I thought about how for so many of us, Trayvon Martin was not and will not be just a name, not just an image, not just an analogy or a metonym, but a young person, a young black person, a young black murdered person whose name we add to a long list of names, too long, that we know we must not and cannot forget.

I thought about how many of us can say that we have been in Trayvon Martin's place and by the grace of God, of luck, of circumstance, we are still able to talk about God or gods, and grace, and circumstance, we are able to talk about the fact that we are still here, but very might not have been.

I thought about Trayvon Martin's parents' grief and sorrow, about how they will never get their son back, how they will never be able to live down the horror not only seeing his body after he was killed but now know that it has become an object of derision, of merriment, for people who had no concept of his humanity and perhaps never will.

I thought about how our friends did not have to testify in court and suffer the humiliation of becoming the subject, the target of attacks, a figure for caricature, a way for people not to deal with the terrific tragedy that unfolded that night in Florida.

I thought about how we have witnessed this story over and over again, about how angry and disappointed and enraged and disgusted and numbed I and others are by it, how it always gets transformed into another story, a story in which the deeper social, political and economic structures that make possible the killing of black children, brown children, black people, brown people, poor people, queer people, women, never get examined or discussed, and people move on to the next thing, and then it happens all over again.

I thought about how this entire fiasco will be turned into a money-making enterprise, how death, especially black and brown deaths, become a spectacle, to be exploited and disposed of when the next new thing comes along, and the fact of this child's death, the seriousness and sadness and solemnity that should attend it, are quickly disposed of.

I thought about how, once again, nothing will change unless we change that nothing into something, how we cannot depend upon "leaders" or laws to ensure the safety and sanctity of our laws, unless they are fully grasp how unsafe and little regarded, we are and are tired of being.

I thought about how low-grade mourning, and frustration, and rage, and indifference, become constants, and how so many of our lives entails not just recognition of but a continuous attempt to manage these feelings, to not be consumed by, destroyed by them.

We cannot be consumed and destroyed by these feelings. We should mourn Trayvon Martin's death, and change a legal system that allows his killer to walk free. But we also have to acknowledge that the society we live in needs to change, and not rest until that happens.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Quote: Enrique Vila-Matas

"39) 'Adieu' is a brief text by Rimbaud included in A Season in Hell, in which the poet does indeed appear to be saying farewell to literature: 'Autumn already! But why yearn for an eternal sun if we are committed to the discovery of divine light, far away from those who die at different seasons?'

"A mature Rimbaud - 'Autumn already!' - a mature Rimbaud at the age of nineteen bids farewell to what for him is the illusion of Christianity, to the various stages his poetry has been through, to his illuminist principles, in short to his huge ambition. And before him he glimpses a new path: 'I tried to invent new flowers, new stars, new flesh, new languages. I thought I had acquired supernatural powers. Now you see! I must bury my imagination and my memories! The beautiful glory of an artist and storyteller snatched away!'"

"He ends with a statement that has become famous, clearly a farewell of the first order: 'One must be absolutely modern. No songs; hold on to a step that has been taken.'"

"All the same, even though [André] Derain did not send it to me, I prefer a simpler farewell to literature, much more straightforward than Rimbaud's 'Adieu.' It is to be found in the draft of A Season in Hell and reads as follows: 'I can now say that art is an idiocy.'"

-- Copyright © from Bartleby & Co., Enrique Vila-Matas, translated by Jonathan Dunne, New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2007. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Photos from This Winter & Spring II

Some photos from events I never got around to blogging. Enjoy!

Phyllis Levin, talking about John Donne
Phillis Levin, at the "John Donne, Re-Done" reading
and discussion at the New York Public Library
Levin, Donnelly, Cespedes, Dubrow and Jay Barksdale, at NYPL
Levin, Timothy Donnelly, Helen Cespedes,
Heather Dubrow, and Jay Barksdale, at "John
Donne, Redone" at NYPL
Fred Moten, Segue Series @ Zinc Bar
Poet, scholar and thinker extraordinaire
Fred Moten at the Segue Series, Zinc Bar
Tonya Foster, Segue Series @ Zinc Bar
The one and only Tonya Foster, reading
at the Segue Series, Zinc Bar
Anthony Gonzales drawing
Drawing by Anthony Gonzales,
Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Basement Gallery, Erotic Art Fair
Two artists, Erotic Art Fair, Leslie Lohmann
Two artists, Erotic Art Fair
(Anthony Gonzales, at right)
Paintings and drawings
Hallway, Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art,
Basement Gallery, Erotic Art Fair
Paintings and drawings
Some of the art on display, Erotic
Art Fair, Leslie Lohman Museum
Royal Shakespeare Company after their performance of *Julius Caesar* at BAM
Some of the cast members, Royal Shakespeare Company's
performance of Julius Caesar at Brooklyn Academy of Music
Nayland Blake two-way cabinet
Cabinet display, Nayland Blake, "What Wong Wreng,"
Matthew Marks Gallery
Nayland Blake sculpture
Standing behind one of Nayland
Blake's sculptures, Matthew Marks Gallery
Matthew Marks Gallery, photo of Nayland Blake installation
One of the displays, Nayland Blake's
"What Wont Wreng," Matthew Marks Gallery
At the Jean-Michel Basquiat show, Gagosian Gallery
Jean-Michel Basquiat show,
Gagosian Gallery (h/t to Mr. Reggie H!)
(photos were prohibited, so....)
IMG_9At the Jean-Michel Basquiat show, Gagosian Gallery268
At the Basquiat show, Gagosian Gallery
Nick Cave and dancer, HEARD NY
Artist and professor Nick Cave, with one of his
dancers, at his HEARD•NY performance,
Grand Central Terminal
The dance, HEARD NY
HEARD•NY performance,
Grand Central Terminal
Gary Simmons mixed media works
Gary Simmons installation, Metro Pictures
Artwork, Gary Simmons show, Chelsea
Gary Simmons paintings and installation,
Metro Pictures
Artwork, Gary Simmons show, Chelsea
Gary Simmons installation, Metro Pictures
Artwork, Gary Simmons show, Chelsea
Gary Simmons installation, Metro Pictures
Artwork, Gary Simmons show, Chelsea
Gary Simmons installation, Metro Pictures
Artwork, Gary Simmons show, Chelsea
Detail, Gary Simmons installation,
Metro Pictures
Self-portrait in front Gary Simmons' artwork
Self-Portrait with Gary Simmons installation,
Metro Pictures