Archive for March, 2008


Posted in Uncategorized on 25 March 2008 by ms. v

From “The Catastrophe of Success,” anthologized in The Outlaw Bible of American Essays, ed. by Alan Kaufman:

Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressivee–that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims. William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. “In the time of your life–live!” That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, loss, loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition. –Tennessee Williams



Posted in Uncategorized on 22 March 2008 by ms. v

Two years later is too long to be haunting the spots where we might bump into each other.  I tell myself I’m there for the soup and because it’s nearby and it’s my city, too, you don’t own the place.  I squeeze into a space at the bar and it’s busy and you’re not there, so I believe myself for a while, and sit there while my mind roams the possible ways to distract myself. Restlessness swells outward, pressing against my skin until my surfaces are all of me, held in place by the pressure of what isn’t.  I tear pieces of bread and notice the butter’s sweetness and the grey-brown taste of the barley soup and the tang of dill. Lately, I’ve begun to eat like an animal, without pleasure, or rather unlike an animal, without concentration or attention to the task of feeding myself.  The couple beside me goes.  For a moment I guard the empty stool beside me, but I can’t keep it empty when you don’t walk in.  You never walk in; you’re never where I think you might be.  I’ve stopped believing in my gut feelings, I think they are manufactured by the part of my brain that does hope.

A man sits down on the empty stool.  He isn’t you.  He looks like Frank McCourt, or like I think Frank McCourt might look, and later, when he says he’s a teacher, too, I wonder briefly, this being New York, if it is Frank McCourt.  Anyway, he sits down and I can feel that he will start a conversation.  I consider closing my face the way you learn to do in a city.  I don’t return his glances but keep myself open, ambiguous, and he asks if I’m a writer.  Loneliness looks like you’re thinking of your novel: it’s a funny thought.  Or it looks like writers are supposed to look, a little haunted, ponderous.


Posted in Uncategorized on 21 March 2008 by ms. v

Found in Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture, by Michael Kammen:

I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary. I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.” – Claes Oldenburg, 1967.


Posted in Uncategorized on 21 March 2008 by ms. v

Kloe’s been hiding her new artwork. I like the photographs she has of little slivers and windows revealing only colors, suggestion but not reality. When we blog, do we show slices or whole canvasses of our lives? When I write about the most personal things, I tend to cloak the details in vagueness or allusion… but what do readers make of this? What images do they fill in around the visible colors? How does what they see relate to what really happens?


Posted in Uncategorized on 21 March 2008 by ms. v

From Crossing California, a novel by Adam Langer. This one was a recommendation by my old bookstore boss, and he was right on; it’s worth it for this paragraph alone (which is better if you know the characters):

When midnight struck and the regulars in the Double Bubble half-heartedly cheered the TV as the great ball dropped in Times Square, Muley wondered if he’d lived through his most creative years in the 1970s. For him, that decade had been about ingenious solutions to insurmountable problems. The 1980s beckoned, and judging from the great progress he had made in such a short time, they seemed to represent a period of ease and boredom, of domesticity and routine, of financial reward at the expense of creativity–above all, a period of that until-now-unfamiliar feeling of discontent, where you got everything you desired and it turned out you really didn’t want it at all.


Posted in Uncategorized on 21 March 2008 by ms. v

From “Red Shoes” by Susan Griffin, from the same collection of essays that I keep quoting… this essay weaves together a very formal analysis of fiction, the essay, and more, with a personal story… until the strands begin to cross… it’s hard to describe, but here’s a piece:

Fiction, as opposed to the essay, is often viewed as an escape from reality. The storyteller can make up a world and has no moral reason to stay loyal to this one. Shame and suffering can be left at the boundaries of the imagined world.

I imagined the color of the rose to be red. As I entered the garden I saw a rose whose deep burgundy color drew me. This red is replete with associations. Some of them wonderful. Some terrible.

But any really good story includes both pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, in infinite complexities. And any imagined world, if it is to be believed, will soon be replete with its own requirements, consequences, and limitations, just like this world.


Posted in Uncategorized on 21 March 2008 by ms. v

Oh wow. I let go of my obsession with her a while before Christmas. They still fascinate me, but I’m not thinking of them every day. Still, today I remember that she left a post for New Year’s before she died, and I went to see it. It’s a gorgeous poem by T.S. Eliot, and a link. Follow the link. I won’t say where it leads. Who is behind it? I want to follow it where it will take me. Follow the links from the link. Here’s a bit of the Eliot because it is a beautiful poem:

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years –
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.