Monday, December 31, 2018


Dear Those Who Have Gone On,

I was looking through some boxes of snapshots-  I know you will recogninize the feeling- like so many drifts and avalanches of déjà vu.  All those different people, so many of them dead and gone, or forgotton, and many of them are me.

It's an exisitential crisis in saturated color on a 5 inch scrap of paper.  It probably isn't good for humans to have this much self awareness.  On the other hand, why is it so sad?  Why would years that I know were perfectly good years, perfectly fabulous times, now gone, bring sadness to consider them?  Is it just "the missing," or is it "the lost and never was anyway?"  I do not know.  But I intend to keep on poking at the sleeping beast.  Yesterday must have some meaning, some relevance for today.  But, it's like a dream you can't quite remember; all sliding away even as it forms on the back of your eyeballs.

Looking at the past in photographs is a form of transcendental time travel, only it isn't working right.  Whatever working right would mean.  I don't think it would mean that everything would prove to have a rhyme and a reason, but I think it would allow you to proceed with less doubt and more truth.  It would mean that you could be that bright spirit that you would like to be, without having to wish for it. 

Anyway, when I saw your picture, I thought of you, and I wanted you to know that I miss you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Can You?

Dear Hopeful and Hopeless,

Your song for today, and I wish you both good luck, you're gonna need it.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Two hundred days.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Nearing the Solstice.

Dear Listening and Looking,

Here is your song for today.  I know, I said a had a problem with the whining squeal of the mandolin, and here we are, with my words for a tasty snack.  Still, ask yourself, does this song really need the mandolin?  Another case for keeping the mandolin. 

After consideration, let's leave it for now, but plan to seriously review mandolin use soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

by beautiful chance

Dear Lucky,

A bit of writing by the composer of your song for today caught my eye, because it was a review of a book about Debussy.  As I read the review aloud to the staff here at the Dodo, we played some of the works mentioned in the article.  Then, we played this piece by the reviewer of the book, to sort of bring it all home.  It's really lovely and I know you will enjoy it immensely.


Friday, November 30, 2018

The Snout.

Dear Getaway Drivers,

I just read a book that got me to thinking... about memory and story and their intersections and overlaps.  I'd tell you all about this book, except that I am going to give it to you for Christmas, and I don't want you to go buying it yourselves.  Maybe I will tell you about it January, after everyone has opened their gifts.  Anyway, this book got me to thinking....

About the Mercury car known as the Snout.  No one remembers the Snout.  I drove it all over the place, with cops on my tail.  I have searched this world wide web over and I cannot find this car- it had a black vinyl top and the rest of the coupe was white.  It was a time when stock cars were on primetime tv and movies were about outrunning the dunderheaded law in Pontiacs.  Those times are long gone and so is a definite identification of the Snout. 

The Snout was parked in the driveway for a good long while, and I couldn't drive, but I could jump into it, with the window down, and pretend the doors were welded shut and that we had to hurry to outrun the g-men.  I had two good girlfriends in those days and they would sometimes play at detective with me, or at getaway car, in the Snout.  I feel like maybe I enjoyed these narratives more than they did, because, now that I think about it, they were mostly actors in my pretend theater.  They seemed jolly enough about participating, though. 

It's a shame we will never know what they thought about all these cops chasing us after we'd robbed a bank.  I wonder if either of them have ever gone back and dug up the money? 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Understand me now.

Dear Record Player,

Listen to this terrific song, which has been pared down so elegantly, so intensely, by Nina Simone.  It's your song for today.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Police my Desire (if you Dare).

Dear Dazed & Confused,

I am delighted to read this essay, which sends my mind in a hundred directions, with a thousand threads to follow.  Is then, the poet the poem?  Because I have heard otherwise.  Is the actress the character?  Is the protagonist the author?  Is the audience the believer? 

Will everything be swept under the rug?  Can desire even be policed?

French women: yes, I love to love them, and probably for the same reason men do, which is to say that they aim to please visually.  I always thought, though, that they somehow didn't care if men weren't pleased.  The French Woman* is, of course, a construct of mine, and yours, and everyone else's, and I wish they all could be California Girls. 

I have been watching a French Female, in an anthropological spirit, on YouTube- she gives rules and advice for being and looking French.  I think she tapes these dubious lectures in Berlin, where I suppose it is easier to separate the distinguishing characteristics of the French Female from the rest of the world.  Watching one of these videos on How to Wear Perfume Like a French Female, I noted that I would never presume to speak for the American Female in such a general, published way (although, you might want at this point, to call my little kettle black).  If the 19 minutes of video is to be believed, there are many proscriptions to be followed in the application of scent on a woman in France. The author/protagonist/actress/poet of these videos talks with her hands mesmerizingly- her long fingers are painted with bright polish that the eye follows back and forth across the screen, like the ball in a tennis match.  So you don't trouble yourself to watch it, let me tell you the thesis of it all: do not apply so much perfume that anyone who isn't French can smell you.  Hmm, actually, maybe I missed the thesis after all?

We may never know what these French women of my imagination and acquaintance think and feel, but I adore the chance/desire/leisure/liberté to put on some lipstick and consider it all, don't you?

* She wears a scarf just so, she is rabidly self-assured, she is never 'too much,' and she always looks as though she knows a secret that you do not.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ghost Town

Dear Spooked and Spooky,

I saved you this song for today way back in early March- don't worry, it's still fresh!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

Stop Making Sense

Dear Non-Sense,

I took a beautiful trip in a darkened, velvet seated time machine last Friday.  I stopped by my 16th year and saw this lovely old film again with some new friends.  As luck would have it, one of these fine folks sent me this fabulous film.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Lucky 13.

Dear Who-Ever,

This is it, she's here, and I wonder if she is my Woman?  The Woman I hoped Wonder Woman would be, a face for feminism in the 21st. century.  There ought to be legions of faces of feminism, of course, and there will be, one day.  Note her garb, and although you can't see them, she wears sensible work boots that mean business.  She dresses for adventure.  I hope you do too.

Last night, I saw her on the big screen, and I am happy to report that although there were only about a dozen viewers, one young woman was dressed exactly like this Dr. Who.  I felt keenly the bonds of sisterhood. 

See how they haven't made the mistake of dressing her as a sex object?*  I send whoever was responsible my deepest thanks.  True, she looks like a wasp and she's blonde and very pretty, and that isn't asking much of me as a viewer, but the character of the doctor has the card-carrying power of the sci fi alien- always a visitor; and never fully aware of canons like Western Feminine Beauty, so there will be opportunities (I hope) to examine our expectations and conventions through this stranger's eyes and ways.

As an example, I have been fretting about how much she looks like a bank teller since last year, but when I watched her be The Doctor last night, my assumptions of her appearance were subverted, and I am pretty sure that I Approve.  Now, anyone who watches any of these shows knows that time will tell, because we are made aware of the character's complexity over many episodes and narratives.  Which is really the glory of television:  meeting in time, across seasons and years, to listen to some adventures of characters we have the chance to get to know well.

*  Don't get me wrong, of course I want my cake and eat it too; if this 13th Doctor doesn't have or allude to many amorous encounters of the 'man in every port of the cosmos' kind, I will be greatly miffed.  Try this for a song for today, and note the de Chirico set.

Monday, October 8, 2018

I can't give it away.

Dear Patience,
I have re-assembled some journal pages on some large water color sheets that were my grandmother's.  The paper is quite lovely in itself, with wave-warped edges and a pale gold glow of foxing from storage.  A few years ago, I cut some of the sheets into cards that I mailed out; hopefully I sent one to you.  I took a sheet and painted a field of lupine and owl's clover in the center of it in vibrant watercolors.  The last six were made into images like you see on the left in the photo above.  Little cuts and scraps of words, pasted down and into water color pools and puddles.  I suppose it was a bit like constructing a fake streambed in a suburban yard, or maybe a Japanese rock garden.
My plan now for these six large paper pieces is going to be harder to complete:  I'd like them framed up impeccably, with linen and museum board and lots of space.  Then they must be hung in the office of psychiatrist in Memphis, Tennessee, where patients will ponder them while they question their own relevance, and it will quietly dawn on them:  Oh, yes, of course, I just need to re-order my life- it's all in the placement and emphasis.
I don't know any psychiatrists in Memphis, so that's an issue right there.  Ten years ago I painted a very large canvas with bubbling lilac and taupe ovals- the painting really simmered with happiness.  I knew it should be hung in the Zuni Café, because I had been there and felt it.  I wrote to the restaurant and told them I would give them the painting free of charge, because I was convinced of it's belonging there.  They did not reply at all.  Did they dislike the painting, or mistrust my motivations?  A reverence for the restaurant, it seems, was not enough.  What then, is enough? 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018




Dear Other Readers,
It was a joy to behold this writing as object, as artefact, after holding the reading of it in high revere for many decades.  I loved it's suchness, and you will too; may it visit a library near you.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

An exhortation.

Dear Activists,

I need to you to run out and paper the place (all places, every place) with this bill:

The full provenance is not detailed in this copy;  Corita Kent is the true progenitor of this marvelous and deeply useful list of exhortations.  You can get more copies here.  Sister Mary Corita is a master of the serigraph.  See her work here.

See you out on the streets!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Be seated.



Saturday, September 22, 2018

When it's equinox time in old New Jersey, we'll be a peach of a pear.

Dear Weathered,

What of these phenomena:  Why are crumbling buildings the most beautiful?  Why are people the most appealing when they are clothed against a bit of cold? 

Autumnal thoughts, to be sure, but what is it about a hat for the cold that is more aesthetically pleasing than a hat for the sun?

An example:  Read this picture with me.

Yes, they are traveling, they have bags, and coats, and boots.  They are headed 'up' a dirt road.  They have turned, to look back at us, mid stride.  Are they hurrying?  There is no place that the road seems to end.  Where are they going, then?  The picture is split, diagonally, into a dark and a light half.  The line that the two values meeting makes is intersected by the left figure- the figures are also dressed darkly, and they balance the shadowed mystery of the untamed woods on the left half of the image.  The origami shapes of their coats make two upward pointing arrows.  They have also turned towards each other slightly, in turning to us.  They are surprised?  Impatient for us to catch up?  Annoyed at the interruption?  It's a fairly neutral expression that we can read a lot of different narratives onto.  Are they headed out, or returning to home?

Imagine, now, that they are wearing shorts, tank tops, flip-flops; sunlight pours down on the dusty heat of the road.  It's just not as good, no matter how much we might enjoy ogling bare skin.  Wearing a coat says you are going somewhere, doesn't it?   It says you mean to do business with the caprices of nature, with the bodily dangers of the world.

For the few people left in the auditorium, after all the folks who feel that things just are, and that meaning isn't relevant to their puny lives; yes, isn't it grand to play these kinds of parlor games with the cultural artifacts of humanity?  Why this album cover in particular, you ask?  Because I happen, at this moment in time, to have two of these records, and one is out of the cabinet, awaiting a new home.  Perhaps you would like a copy of this fine album?  Let me know, by tying a message to a dove's leg- I'll send it to you next week by bike carrier, or parachute drop.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dear Moon.

Dear Moon-Fanciers,

You probably already know all about it, but in case you missed this nice plan for taking artists to the moon, learn about it here.


Dear Found and Lost,

Here's another place you can go:  Atlas Obscura.  I warn you, it's very compelling, and you'll surely run out of time to sweep the porch if you keep on searching the internet for interesting items!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

thinking of words to send you

Dear Readers,

The juice of a small white peach on my fingers rolled down my arm, almost, with patience, to my elbow.  The progressing drop decreased in size, leaving a transparent, shiny trail, a little like the beautiful track of a snail.

Our thoughts, ideas, and words head out from where we are, like an enormous army.  They keep on going and they will find sometimes a place to stay for a while, or even to die.  Or maybe they are more like seeds, many millions are blown from the spent blossom, but only a few find fertile soil.  But when?  Our words can sit fallow for many, many decades, and then, there you are, using some words that someone gave you a long lifetime ago.

I try very hard to keep the words, the thoughts, that people give me, but holding them is so difficult.  They just flow away like liquid, or dry up slowly.  And then, there you are again. 

It is the kind, praising words I want to keep the most- I repeat them, over and over, hoping to fix them very permanently in my mind.  I want to keep them for use on a rainy, diffident day; a day where a little sanative dose is needed.  Other words might stick around too long, and try as I might, I cannot get away from hearing them over and over. 

What shall we do with the latent power of our ideas and words?  Annie Dillard advises us to give the best ones now; don't save them up.  Spend it all, good and fast.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

100 Days

Dear Y'all,

In ten years, I've only convinced three people to take up roller skating, and a fourth dabbled for a time.  Still, I keep trying because if you love someone, you take them skating.  If you want to really pour on the affection, you give them a pair of their own.  If you already have half a dozen worshiped pairs, all you can want is a great place to use them.  This year, the people I live with made me the ultimate backyard place to skate:  A mini half pipe.  It's the bees knees!

It's not age-appropriate for me, and so I don't feel comfortable shouting from the rafters about it.  People will tell you that you'll break an arm, or a leg.  Or that it's all fun and games now, but wait until someone gets hurt.  I can tell you that if I didn't try to skate on it, I'd be feeling a painful heap of remorse and regret.  It might seem dull, this back and forth, up and downing on a double ended convex wooden thingummy, but I can tell you it isn't.  All kinds of little shifts in speed or gravity can make one of the descents or accents a crazy near-crash.  The thing, you see, that is fun about roller skating, is the almost falling. 

It was a Chicks in Bowls video that first put the idea of a backyard ramp into my head.  Other great women skaters have helped me to imagine such a thing in my yard; Pigeon and Indy.  This website told us how to go about constructing it.

Today ends a little project of skating every day for a hundred days.  Some days I skated three times, some days 2 hours, some days only 10 minutes.  Some days on my porch, or in the house, or on the beautiful ramp.  It meant I had to take my skates with me if I left overnight- I skated for a few minutes in the parking lot of the Ames Research Center in July.  At a camping site in August, between two cars.  It's a nice appointment to keep every day.  Give it a try, both the ramp and the daily skate- you'll love every bone break-defying minute of it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It takes a train to cry.

Dear travelers,

We were walking uphill, towards the terminal to meet our flight, at dawn. The sunrise, we said, was so beautiful, but isn’t the violet and blue aurora unusual?  It seemed vaguely menacing, and it quickly became so, as my Aunt was pulled screamingly skyward.  We ran to avoid celestial capture, but there were men with guns in the stairwells, and the end seemed very near.

Isn’t it always so in dreams of travel?  The tarmac is burning, the plane is descending too rapidly, the subway station is too labyrinthine to navigate, and the train rushed by our station without a glance.  Or, worse, it plummeted into a ravine before our stop.  One time, I remember, we rode it many miles beyond our ticketed station, we were chased the length of the train, and throughout the depot, giving up entirely on claiming our bags, walking for miles in starlit Joshua tree forest.  As I walked, I tried to list the contents of my bag; to recall what I had lost., what I would need to replace.

What could these dream journeys mean?  The futility of arrival, the weariness and sorrow of departure?  Is it the anxiety of the future manifested as a transition from here to there?  A new career in a new town? 

Just one good trip in a dream is all I am looking for- a booking that sends you where you want to go, a country without a border incident, a town you don’t get lost in, a connecting flight that lands without disaster, locals with open hearts.

Wish you were here.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Her Song.

Dear Great Beyond,

I have been thinking of Aretha Franklin, lying in state, like the royalty she is, and it really makes me glad to have known her.  Here is her song for the day.

One more sexy, flawless song, and a paean.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Closer Walk.

Dear All,

I thought this film was charming- so I give it to you with the hope that it will please you.  I found it while I was looking to find my favorite version of Closer Walk With Thee.  It might be this one.

Or this one.

Or, this.



On second thought, why not sing it yourself and accompany yourself on guitar?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

It is of my intention.

Dear Intentions,

Once, I made such a case, a scene really, against water taps in refrigerators (I want water in my sink, not my fridge) that the man who plumbed and built our house started to feel bad about having water in his fridge.  Despite this feelings, he plumbed our coolerator alcove for water anyway; and behind our very modest Maytag (it isn't stainless, or large, but small and white and 18 years old) in the dust and obscurity, is an eight foot coil of glowing copper tubing waiting for the 'next owner' whom we presume won't have any sense whatsoever and will want, at the touch of a button, cold filtered water to pour forth from their major appliances.

The point, here, is that I hadn't intended to make the builder feel bad about his entitled, first world, luxuried way of life, and so similarly here, I don't intend to ruin your blithe and harmless enjoyment of Paganini and Haydn.  It's a warning, really; if you treasure your feelings about composers Haydn and Pags, maybe just turn the page now, discontinue reading, and pour yourself a nice tall glass of cold water from a spigot in your fridge.

If, though, your appreciation of music can stand some criticism or dissenting opinion, read on.

Many years ago now I gave a painter I knew some music on a cassette tape.  Music that is good for painting:  Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3 (of Sorrowful Songs).  My painter acquaintance responded with Pags and Hay, saying that the music I had given her was entirely too melancholy.  The tape she gave me was suitable for weddings and inattentive listening.  What is often scornfully referred to as 'background music.'  It was safe and melodious; easy-listening as 'classical music' goes.

As for my own conception of music, I often wonder if any music except the lament is worth making the noise of.  Still, if your daily activities do not require the solemnity of melancholy music, then good for bloody you; but the undertaking and creation of a world of depth, space and understanding from nothing; a world with its own light, its own cosmology, requires music with a bit more gravitas.  In other words, if you are making a painting, you will want some serious, insightful, mournful, and exquisitely beautiful music like the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.  May it serve you well; I've been using it for years. 

I wonder if the refrigerator of the future might play Paganini on demand?

Friday, August 17, 2018

the letter of the heart

Dear Tea Taoists,

In my quest to explain beauty and encourage people to make things, I often point to wabi-sabi.  Permit me to point you there, too.  It's a lovely concept of aesthetics, celebrating the effects of time on objects.  This short film presents a nice definition and history of wabi-sabi.  When you learn about it, you will have the feeling that you have always suspected these truths.

I remember encountering the term in an article in the Utne Reader.  The concept was familiar to me from studying Non-Western Art History, which is an exciting branch of art history that ignores some of the tenets Western Art History drags along through the pages and the ages; for example, the idea that progress, clarity of vision, and ever growing finesse in execution is the highest goal.  I know, ugh.  It's the equivalent of praising little girls only for keeping their rooms clean.  Double ugh.

If you peek into Non-Western Art History, you find wabi-sabi, shaman, the Dreamtime, ancestor worship, blood sacrifice, human skull adornment, fertility symbols, and latent power lying all about the place, relatively unused and under appreciated.  It's a great place to visit. 

Send me a postcard when you get there.

Monday, August 13, 2018

push plate

Dear  Inked, 
This is an impression of the push plate from the door of the women's restroom entrance where I work.  An artist I know was printing some unconventional things: steel drawings and little silver pendants.  I started to look at the flat, ink-able surfaces around me differently.  May our eyes always be open to looking in another way.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Great Wars and Outing Pa

Dear Sad Goodbyes,

I have been informed that my mind and body are the field on which the broader culture wars continue to rage.  I am not sure I approve of this tenancy.  I have suspected it, of course, but it still stings.  Setting this injury aside, for now, I give you this review of a book on Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

What the author is, or was, or even who the author of these books is, might be less important than what the readers did or do with the stories, but the Little House books have been sitting in a stack in my studio, awaiting a tough decision:  continue to treasure their pale yellow spines, and sweet Garth Williams cover illustrations, or let them go like mist.

It pained me, 8 years ago, when I was reading these formerly beloved volumes aloud to my son and husband.  These books were formative, like the many Marguerite Henry books on the
Chincoteague ponies, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Madeline L'Engle books.  I found, in the second or third book, that Pa was actually a complete menace to his family.   A tyrant, really.  I couldn't even go on reading them- the family would laboriously scrape out a little hollow of safety, comfort, or stability, and he'd pack it in to move.  I could find no way to excuse or explain this man's actions to males I cared about.  If my job as a mother is to help to form my son's relationship to women, Pa seemed like a very bad influence, all of a sudden. 

I realized I had categorized Pa as a kind of natural phenomenon, a force of nature, an Act of God in the insurance sense- he struck randomly and fiercely, like fires and blizzards.  But strike he did, and that is why, after this final consideration, confession, and tearful acceptance, I am saying goodbye to the books, because I don't want crazy Pa in my life anymore.  I am sorry that Laura and all the beautiful prairie, woods, plains, and mountains will have to go too, but Pa just isn't good enough for me and my people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Ruling Passions.

Dear Enthusiasts,

Things are in disrepair.  They usually are, but the first problem to tackle is the decision of what to fix and what to give up on.  It's clear from reading other pages here, and even from the words I used to write the previous sentence, that I am always sorry to have to give up on things.  I love repaired things; damaged things, even. 

The old rocking chair on the porch has a split cane seat woven in a complex pattern.  The stuff must be soaked, and then woven, and the oak of the armrests and the rockers is worn out of shape, and there are checks and splinters aplenty.  Repairing the seat and back will only be a temporary stay against utter uselessness as a chair.

Still, I thought we might try a webbing seat instead of the split cane, and so I consulted the Ashley Book of Knots.  With any luck, you have a copy already, because it is a really wonderful book, with beautiful illustrations and fascinating names and purposes for the many knots and plaits.

Whenever I look up a knot in this book, I also read the inside back flap of the crumbling dust jacket.  I look at this flap because it's where I begin straightening the paper tatters when I open or close the book.  I always look at dashing Clifford W. Ashley, and I read this sentence: 

     Clifford W. Ashley had two ruling passions all his life:  marine painting and knot tying.

I know you will love this sentence as I do, and so perhaps you will want to stop reading here now, and go forth into the future with your unique relationship to this arrangement of words.  I don't really think you need me to tell you how I feel about these words, after all.  If you did, though, wonder, after considering what they say to you first, I could tell you that I like to imagine my picture there, on the flap, and to think of what my life under two ruling passions might read like, to consider what the 620 pages would be filled with.  I never get too far imagining this before I find that two passions isn't anything like enough passions.  But then I allow as how these are not just any two passions, these, are the Sovereign Passions, and so maybe I really ought to be able to select two to be my Queen and King and to serve under them happily?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

confection collection

Dear You,

Suppose you were to take a little sample, a little morsel of everything you encountered in a month, or half a year; every worthy sight; a little of every interesting detail, every curious sound, a little bit, a bite, a slice, of everything you saw and took note of in these moments of time and space.  And then further suppose, you were to take all these bits and bobs, and present them in a large and well-crafted frame, and then give the whole confabulation to a friend.  This marvelous and never-before-seen distillation of all the time and experience you have lived. 

Receiving something like that is what it is to read The Rings of Saturn, by W. G. Sebald.  If when you reach the end of it, and you have licked the bowl by looking up the unfamiliar words and phrases (quincunx, marasmus, soakaways, francs-tireurs, insuperable, barely malt coffee, Silesian, Martello towers, plutôt mourir que changer, tumuli, boffins) you will have left to savor still the transmutation of your own experience into a telling, a showing, an image, a collection, or even just a letter to someone.  Like this one, to you. 

Pleasure awaits: be off to your bookshelf or library!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

wonderful, beautiful shoes

Kidskin sandal with layered cork sole and heel covered in suede.
 Designed by Salvatore Ferragamo for Judy Garland, 1938.

Dear Three Paragraphs, Introduction, and Conclusion,

I am often thinking on the Big Answers, that I have been the casual recipient of over time.  There was a man in the ferry waiting room en route to the Isle of Wight that was telling me something very important about what one 'owes' one's parents.  I never could grasp his meaning, but I am still trying to.  And I showed my studio once to another painter, and she looked around and said, "Well, I can see you have a story to tell."  I thought, do I?  I mean, I do? 

If I did have a story to tell, one story that would be the one that counted, the one that made it, the one I'd give to all the world's readers;  I can tell you that everyone in the story would be able to get their foot in the glass slipper, and they'd all get to live happily ever after.  It might at first seem like this would be entirely too much happily ever after, but no, not really, because to happily ever after you have to know what you want, and hardly anyone knows what they want.  There's so much to choose from.  You can't blame people for not wanting to settle for one thing or another.  Mostly, people wouldn't even put their foot into the shoe, because they couldn't be sure that was what they wanted.  So, in my story, the shoe would fit everyone, but only a very few would even try to wear it.

There is an essay that pertains to these issues of narrative, identity, and shoes, in Dave Hickey's new collection, Perfect Wave.  Here is an older version of the piece. 

One of the little and particular changes between the essay published online and the version in the book is the adjective 'wonderful' before the word 'shoes,' in contrast to 'beautiful shoes,' as you will read it online.  This kind of difference is exciting, because it invites us to decide which is a better descriptor in this context:  wonderful or beautiful; and it further requires us to consider why Dave Hickey made the changes.  When he gathered his papers to review and select them for the book, what little sprite whispered to him "'wonderful' is the word you want there, Dave, 'wonderful.'"

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The white box.

Dear Viewers,

You know how I love the white box, the white cube, the white room, with a tiny bit of formal art in it.  I love it like ponds pocked by rain drops, like the sound of poplar leaves in the wind.  I love the white room with a small amount of art in it.  But, I worry.  It isn't sustainable, to use the parlance of the day.  It isn't very friendly for humans, either.  It's like those people you know, who have three sticky kids, a great dane, and a cockatoo, and what do they get?  A white velvet chesterfield.  It just seems all wrong.

I know a woman who has a very lovely home, there's nary a white wall in it, and she has lovely objet d'arts on the tables and shelves, and drawings, prints, paintings and sculptures on the wood paneled walls.  My own abode has white walls all over the place, but the art stuffs are chock a block-  little sculptures are two deep in the nichos, and folk art is crammed into the glass-fronted oak cupboards.

I want you, for the love of Mike, to want art, to want things that have been made by human hands, in your space, even if it is a 16 foot canned ham trailer.  Art, and I know it well enough to speak for it, wants to be near you; it's lonely in the white cube, where it never changes, because a team of curators and conservators are always fussing with it.  Art spends most of its time, truth be told, in climate controlled storage.  It's sad, really.  A bunch of beautiful things, with stories to tell, with feeling to elicit, stuffed in the museum basement packed in bubble wrap and naphthalene.