Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday commute xlvii: Long way home

What is more interesting, than that the citations of Horace here outpoll those of Frank O'Hara? For one thing, I think we can say, Reaganism killed abstract expressionism: today's temper is remarkably materialist and literal. Who can mind? Augustus made the literal more glorious than we've ever done.

Very well, then. When we say, home, we must mean houseplacething, where olderpeople still live and make their noises; not center, not core, but real estate. And we don't mind this, either. (Frank O'Hara didn't much care about a home). It just means that Whit and I cannot consider going home, and we would very much like to do that.

And we don't mean, for a fresh shirt.

Gyges, driven ashore
At Oricum by the storm that the Wild Goat
Constellation was the cause of, weeps, Alone, through the sleepless night.

The Odes
  iii, 7, 2
David Ferry, translation
op. cit.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Suppose it were Friday xlvi: rsvp

This minute I've not been able not been
you know simply not been like positively being dead
able to hear your voice though having dialed
you at home at studio at bar. I am not frantic,
I hope, at not being able to catch your sigh
of boredom, not I, not the number who knows all
about the city's darling diversions. I never expected

you to speak to me having once illuminated to me
with your long exotic thumbnail my weakness
which I wear "cross at the war" elegantly.
I hope that your blue eyes are slanting into music
by Ben Weber, because I should have only reminded you of
a cello concerto of our old midsummer anguish,

vieux jeux like falling out of trees into a collector's album.
And upbraided you for my expecting the absence
which like a vulgar newspaper horoscope has happened
to Jane. Where are you? where are you? where are you?

Frank O'Hara
October 26 1952 10:30 O'Clock
Donald Allen, editor
The Collected Poems of
  Frank O'Hara
op. cit.

Antoni Tàpies

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Eat the ravioli."


I never entertained such advice, in the context in which it was given in this astute and almost excessively subtle motion picture. But then again, I was never given it, except by implication, easily ignored. Now, I see areas in which it is entirely serviceable, and query a habit for more sophisticated fare. 

But a guy needs a dynamite jacket, as I discovered one afternoon off Times Square, investing in the Levi Strauss classic. I make no comment on this jacket, which is good enough for Will Higginson. But nothing from Hermès in suède to Ruffo in calf to Alexander Julian in melton cloth has ever settled upon me with the spontaneous click that Brick spoke of to Big Daddy. I acquired these surrogates for presentability's sake, but it was the Levi jacket that set the mold. Sometimes, the ravioli is the ultimate in solace. Sometimes it acquaints us, indeed, with a native hunger never known. Summertime was not a seduction, it was an extraction. We dare the shell that feeds us.



David Lean, director
H.E. Bates and
  David Lean, screenplay
Arthur Laurents, book
London Film Productions
United Artists, 1955©

Will Higginson


When shall your golden eyelashes waltz down 

round your excellent shoulders on the half past six? 

I want to fell your ankles and the water a-keen,

the glancing bubbles of those breaths. 

Then passing; so articulate clearly: 

"There's the cast-off grillwork of your smile, 

which in a better world held down your heart."

Frank O'Hara
Ducal Days
Locus Solus, 1961
Donald Allen, editor
The Complete Poems of
  Frank O'Hara
op. cit.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Philip Johnson
The Seagram Building
375 Park Avenue

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of course: it's arcane & ridiculous, preposterous & silly

Watching me leave the house one day, for an appointment having to do with financial things, my father glanced askance at me and said, You look as if you're dressed for a party. Of course he was right; in sartorial matters he was preternaturally right, and I admired him massively for it. Thinking about it, I realised I was wearing the identical suit and shoes, belt and shirt and socks and tie I had worn to escape my wedding reception, a portrait of which was on a tabletop somewhere at the time. I hopped upstairs and removed my scarcely-more-than slippers, and set myself into some lace-ups of antique gloss. And I felt that this set just enough of Joan Crawford's tone with the Board at Pepsi, to get me by.

And yet, while I can tell you, I have never subjected (mainly, because I never needed to) his sight or his memory to trousers of this arcane and eccentric, preposterous and silly complexity, I have undergone a long life of regard for the lusciousness of fabrics and an idealism in their cut, which I would not have missed for anything. Here, the T-shirt hangs with such ease that one could not apologise for accepting its coverage or its comfort. Robbie's breeder was right: you can love a show dog, as well as a pet. A black-and-white English Cocker, to Geordie's and Whit's blue roan, he was a knockout baby and an inexhaustible zealot for the chase. Robbie would be 11 now.

Blue fulcrum

I sit in your T shirt
with its spots of paint
as a certain fierceness pours
outside, perhaps, too, on you.
there, are you? I am here
and the storm is not enough,
it should crash in and wet,
there should be maelstrom where

a privileged host is smiling.
And naked in debris I there
should be, but, being here, should
bend to you, pick out of rubble

a scrap of painted shirt ..

                              as if it were soiled ivory from
                              a grand piano, possessed of us
                              both, and ruined now by storms.


Frank O'Hara
Lisztiana, Much Later
Paris Review, 1968
Donald Allen, editor
The Collected Poems
  of Frank O'Hara
op. cit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"I am indebted to my friend and former pupil"

How often do we see this acknowledgment, in prefaces to almost everything. I was preparing a little entry drawn from some dialogues in The Republic and a monograph by Roger Sessions, when again this phrase cropped up. I'm glad that he referred to the experience of the class-room. They may be scholars, some may become peers. They are all pupils, and it is their nature to seek release from their cage. This makes the teacher their pupil, and is the common air that they breathe.

I like Barnett Newman's diptych, I appreciate that the two panels are unique, but in the same tonality and scale. Blue is so hungry, and that is a state, not a measure. I like its expansion in their reciprocating fields; I can feel its light, and so can you.

Roger Sessions
The Musical Experience
  of Composer, Performer,
Princeton University Press, 1950©

Barnett Newman

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Game from our valley, wild rice, and Châteauneuf tonight


You know, if you did not know there was a heavy wind outside, you might see that man tumbling along with his umbrella and think, How ungainly and clumsy. And so unnecessary, all this man's vain twisting. But, big sister, your window is shut. In the end, you do not know, and cannot theorise, what forces drive the man. And look, he said, pointing. The man is being driven down the road.

In an imagined conversation with his sister, Gretl, Wittgenstein explains his anxiety to give away his fortune. This will have to suffice, instead of reasons which she has rejected. I enjoy an eclectic sourcing of readers of this page, whose contributions to my life are as unexpected and diverse as its other resources, for which I am grateful. I discovered this gorgeous conversation through a comment from one of them, and I am happy to cite it for the feeling, that I sometimes don't know if I set a table here or refresh myself as a guest.

Bruce Duffy
The World as I Found It
New York Review Books, 2010©

Yves Klein

Mathias Lauridsen

Blue is so hungry


Jake Cooper
Barnett Newman &
  Yves Klein, Driving Satisfaction