Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Rothko play: parturition in Greek space

Mother, dance

     Yearning hurts,
     and what release
     may come of it
     feels much like death.

                                  The best choose progress
                                  toward one thing, a name
                                  forever honored by the gods,
                                  while others eat their way
                                  toward sleep like nameless oxen.

What use are these people's wits,
who let themselves be led
by speechmakers, in crowds,
without considering
how many fools and thieves
they are among, and how few
choose the good?

Infamously, the most dramatic publicity stunt in painting since Michelangelo Merisi juxtaposed decay and menace with the glossiest ripeness ever gathered in a basket, Mark Rothko's renunciation of the Four Seasons commission wrought a second and ironic monumentalising of a chronic-ally ordinary kitchen. Destined for the "shelf life" of Park Avenue, itself - whatever Henry Miller may have judged it to be - the restaurant gained instant conflation with its space, which happens to be one of the most luminous enclosures in the New World, at the foot of its most iconic edifice. Then, no sooner had it opened than it drew this imprimatur of scorn from the crackpot hired to decorate its walls. Had this act ever any chance of not coming to the stage? 

The citations, above, are fragments from Heraclitus. One of the enthralling aspects of this small textual legacy is that frag-mentation, and its hundred-plus interstices of such evident, we think, integration. These we must fill for ourselves, and this is yearning as we know it. Yet so close to what we don't know, are the shards we have, that we half dread a progress toward knowing nothing again, a loss of one within the other. For all the bravado of moral disapproval in Rothko's conversion from Court Painter to Rich Apos-tate, his motivating need had been awakened by that plum commission, and chastened to revive itself. This was not the act of a hypocrite; only his words were unknowing.  

I know that, and have no more than circled for endless months about a play, which was certainly good enough to have in-spired innumerable entries of this page from its conception. But this page, mounting its own stage, has made me aware that my struggle with it is alive, constructive, and illuminating to me. That people may look on, is also part of why it is here. To one hot layer within this drama to which I resisted being reconciled, I am.

I am joining fragments,
I know the fields are shifting. 

Brooks Haxton, translation
op. cit.

Henry Miller
The Colossus of Maroussi
op. cit.

Restaurant Associates, Inc.
Four Seasons Restaurant, logo

John Logan
Oberon Books, Ltd, 2009©

Mark Rothko
Violet, Green, and Red

Basket of fruit



  1. and the caravaggio postcard is from m and co i believe

    when tibor kalman was at the helm and alive.