Category: Writing

The Madness of Reason

Posted by – 01/18/2014

Clarice Lispector

It’s with such profound happiness. Such a hallelujah. Hallelujah, I shout, hallelujah merging with the darkest human howl of the pain of separation but a shout of diabolic joy. Because no one can hold me back now. I can still reason–I studied mathematics, which is the madness of reason–but now I want the plasma–I want to eat straight from the placenta. I am a little scared: scared of surrendering completely because the next instant is the unknown. The next instance, do I make it? or does it make itself? We make it together with our breath. And with the flair of the bullfighter in the ring.

-Opening paragraph from Clarice Lispector’s Água Viva

A Strange Tissue of Space and Time

Posted by – 12/08/2013

lucidstead

Lucid Stead

No, not a mirage. This 70-year-old shack was transformed into a mirror and LED desert fantasia by artist Phillip K. Smith III. The interplay of reflection, natural lighting and neon is magical. Watch the house change throughout a day and night while Smith muses on his project in this short video

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Rick Owens Spring 2014

Imagine if the fiercest playground step dancers of your youth reconvened to choreograph a new dance inspired by 2Pac’s California Love video and you will have an idea of how awesome this fashion show was. Watch it here

capote-living-room

Truman Capote’s mid-60s Hamptons studio

Capote’s laid back beach hideaway perfectly balanced restraint with the ornate. Check the simple-yet-monumental two-story bookcase, reminiscent of plain-hewn Shaker furniture, mixed with the gorgeous-gaudy blue floors and matching wicker furniture. Especially enamored with the peacock chair below. More at the Selvedge Yard.

capote-peacock-chair

title quote from Walter Benjamin

Beyond the Edge of Dreams

Posted by – 12/01/2013

KAINOSHÔTadaoto1928

Is this love reality
or a dream?
I cannot know,
when both reality and dreams
exist without truly existing.

– Omo No Komachi

KikuchiKeigetsuGirl1932

Night deepens
with the sound
of a calling deer,
and I hear
my own one-sided love.

– Omo No Komachi

KeigetsuKikuchi

In the mountain village
The wind rustles the leaves.
Deep in the night, the deer
Cry out beyond the edge of dreams.

-Minamoto No Morotada

Gold & Forgetting

Posted by – 10/19/2013

james-abbott-mcneill-whistler-nocturne-in-black-and-gold-1875

Argumentum E Silentio
Paul Celan

Linked in the chain
Between Gold and Forgetting:
Night.
Both grasped at it.
Both had their way.

Link it,
now you too link up what
wants to dawn with each day:
the Word star-overflown,
sea-overflowed.

To each his word.
To each the word that sang to him
when the pack snapped at his heels–
to each the word that sang to him and froze.

To it, to night, the Word
star-overflown, sea-overflowed,
to it the ensilenced Word
whose blood did not clot when a venomed tooth
pierced its syllables.

To Night the ensilenced Word.

Against the others,
enticed by swindlers’ ears,
who’ll soon climb on time and seasons,
the Word at least testifies,
at last, when only chains ring out,
testifies to Night that lies
between Gold and Forgetting,
their kin for all time.

Then where’s
the Word dawning, tell me, if not with Night
in its riverbed of tears,
Night that shows plunging suns the sown seed
over and over again?

Image: Nocturne in Black and Gold by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Translucent Networks

Posted by – 09/09/2013

Pyrocystis lunula
Pyrocystis lunula

Years of solitude had taught him that, in one’s memory, all days tend to be the same, but that there is not a day, not even in jail or in the hospital, which does not bring surprises, which is not a translucent network of minimal surprises.

— Jorge Luis Borges
“The Waiting”

Now We Are Here

Posted by – 09/02/2013

clashofelements

First, there was earth without anything alive on it. For billions of years this ball was spinning with its sunsets and its waves and the sea and the noises, and there was no thing alive to appreciate it.

– Richard Feynman
The Meaning of It All

Tight As Conch Shells

Posted by – 03/18/2013

ryanmcginleymoonmilkcouple
 
photo by Ryan McGinley
 
First poem of the new year. Stole the title from William Burroughs.
  
Tight as Conch Shells:
 
his body folded inward as he bent, like a spider in a flame.
she could see the ghost tracks on his white fish belly
where the skin would stretch if he grew up to be a stout man.
his hands were mottled indigo from the ink of his jeans
only washed after the first year. his thighs were the same color
and she remembered the childlike oval of flesh smooth,
hairless, and high up where his junk rubbed as he skated.
he didn’t like to be reminded of that spot, brushed her hand away.
 
he was putting out the fire the cherry had started. her fault
and she watched silently, unhelpfully. she liked the
musty, smoldering smell. the town had banned burning
the leaves, said it was a health risk and you had to bag instead.
the ground was still damp and the fire didn’t go
anywhere though he kept mumbling and batting at it like a cat,
she thought. he had a certain way of shutting his eyes
and elongating, his spine popping like an Old West gunfight.
 
the sun was fuzzed behind thin clouds that didn’t look
like anything recognizable except clouds. the fire was out,
he felt sure and leaned back to relight the nub of weed. it was
a production, she gave him one of her barrettes to pinch the end
and her hair fell in a graceless clump, sticking to her forehead.
she watched him suck and burn his lip. she liked his wince,
the way his eyes snaked at the corners and she saw him old again.
he tongued his lip, hurt. there was hope. he could be a silver fox.

Stranger Than Fiction

Posted by – 02/07/2013

The Master & Margarita 22

Two things about two of my favorite Russian writers:

1. Collage artist Daniel Horowitz is doing a lovely job of illustrating every page of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Keep up with the project here & read an interview at The American Reader.

2. A group of uptight literalists have vandalized the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg on the grounds that Nabokov is a pedophile because he wrote Lolita.

master and margarita 10

Small Beautiful Elastic Mercurial Weapons

Posted by – 02/06/2013

wavesstars

This blog is becoming something of a Patti Smith shrine and here’s another memento for the altar: Patti reading from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

& just because I love it so much, here’s a powerful rendition of Because The Night during a 1979 German concert. The look on that girl’s face in the front row? Rapture.

Amelia Gray

Posted by – 01/24/2013

threatsag

One of the weirdest books I read in 2012 is Amelia Gray‘s THREATS, which has lingered in my thoughts for months. The front cover is awesome and a cursory glance at the back promised a woman’s mysterious death, her befuddled husband and a detective named Chico. While the blurb does not prepare for what’s inside, it was enough to part with some cash.

The novel is not a fun read. Let’s get that out of the way. This is not the book to give friends who enjoy conclusions, linearity and understanding what happened. Gray respects her readers’ imaginations and leaves any resolution up to us. Throughout the novel, the protagonist-husband grows ever more batshit self-destructive and his unreliable viewpoint is one of few truths offered. Seemingly coherent recountings of events veer into unabashed surrealism. Resist feeling hurried when the plot moves slower than a nightmare train. Maybe you could put down the book and avoid the collision, but I couldn’t and really, you should not. Stick with it and embrace the ambiguity.

The titular threats, left scattershot throughout the house by the dead wife, are deliciously fucked up and give the sense Gray has enjoyed hating someone in her day. My favorite is:

CURL UP ON MY LAP. LET ME BRUSH YOUR HAIR WITH MY FINGERS. I AM SINGING YOU A LULLABY. I AM TESTING FOR STRUCTURAL WEAKNESS IN YOUR SKULL.

If you want an idea of what Gray is all about, check out her story On The Moment of Conception at The American Reader. It’s a bit like Aimee Bender penning American Psycho. Also, menfolk, be forewarned. It gets visceral.

Updated with a few thoughts on 1/25/13