Friday, October 31, 2008

a room full of ghosts...




for halloween, an albumen print, circa 1890, of a room of girlish ghosts...

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

as it stands in the memory...

"there he stands in sifting snow. in my thoughts in sifting snow. a father - and his winter-shaggy, brown horse, in snow.

his brown horse and his face. his sharp words. his blue eyes and his beard. the beard with a reddish tinge against the white. sifting snow. blind, boundless snow.


the boy stands inside his ring of wild animals, shovelling snow.

who is singing?

the horse is singing his song somewhere deep inside himself, and the man and the boy are dreaming their dreams. it has to be. the potent melody that the boy feels is coming in waves from his secret ring is another matter. he hears it as he shovels until his arms grow stiff.


the snow starts to fall again. the mist thickens.

and the ring of animals?

at this moment the whole ring of animals vanishes. they cannot be kept back. no use calling them. they will not be conjured up again.

the boy bears the hurt instead, a shapeless burden, but one that will settle for good.

the horse bears the burning hurt.

without a sound, like the others.

i am with man,
and no other than man.
i am with man
all day long.
i am the horse,
and this is my song."

three short passages from the first chapter of tarjei vesaas' 1968 novel, the boat in the evening. this first chapter is one of the most beautifully written texts i've read in a long time. i am trying to read it slower and slower and perhaps at least a dozen times before i go on with the book. i can only imagine the norwegian orginal being even more stellar...

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

more corner forms...

serra casting corners in johns studio 1970

after posting the image of richard serra's Gutter Corner Splash: Late Shift, 1969/1995 yesterday morning, today arrived in the mail a book of interviews with serra from 1980 which i won on ebay. serra had not been much on my mind of late, but as i already had scored an incredible book from the seller (one which will definitely make an appearance here soon!), the serra book was cheap and seemed a potential good read, and the combined shipping was too good to pass up.

as these things tend to happen, the serra book arrived right after i posted the image related to his gutter corner splash, and lo and behold in this book are some wonderful images of serra making the first incarnation of the piece, entitled 'casting', inside jasper johns studio!

beyond the visual similarity of the corner forms, i think the relationship between the images of serra and an imaginary gardener making corners on the ground is interesting. both involve a physical process, both involve tools specific to the environment and materials, and in both cases, beautiful geometric wedges are built with the help of both dirty hands and gravity. i don't often think of serra's work in relation to ritual and alchemy, but i like the idea that one can find more of a connection between these two images than one would initially suspect.

serra never seems like a card carrying minimalist, fitting much more uncomfortably between things like minimalism and someone like smithson. certainly throwing molten lead into corner forms is not indicative of most of his processes, but it is insightful as to a potential ritualistic nature in his works. in some ways, it opens the door to a different kind of dialog, where one sees him not only in relation to the gardener (the sculptor), but to a shaman, with his larger works in relation to totems, and perhaps altars. i highly doubt this subjective view holds much water, but it is a beautiful thing when two images collide and can generate ideas, even if they are full of holes, and far from reality...

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

forms of corners in rooms and in gardens...

seeding 1930's home mag illustration

richard serra corner splash

the image on the top is from an american home magazine from the 1930's. unfortunately i forgot to notate what issue and exactly what year it is from. the image, from an article on home gardening, attracted me initially simply because of the drawing style, which i think is pretty great.

while clearing some clippings off my studio desk this morning, i found the image again, and i realized how much the wedge shaped troughs reminded me of an early richard serra piece, Gutter Corner Splash: Late Shift, 1969/1995, where he threw hot lead into corners of a room, with the final installation consisting of the lead corners strewn on the floor. the piece is owned by sfmoma, and i remember seeing it installed a few years ago. there's more info here, including some nice little quicktime movies.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

when chapter titles form a poem...

as it stands in the memory
in the marshes and on the earth
spring in winter.

daybreak with shining horses
the drifter and the mirrors
the wasted day creeps away
on its belly.

washed creeks
fire in the depths
words, words
the dream of stone.

the heart lies naked
beside the highway in the dark
the tranquil river glides
out of the landscape
beyond one's grasp.

just walking up to fetch the churn
the melody
the rivers
beneath the earth.

the titles of chapters in sequence, from terjei vesaas' the boat in the evening.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

when rocks look like tears...

black hills rock museum

rockmuseum detail

a 1930's RPPC featuring a somewhat pathetic looking black hills rock museum, i am guessing the black hills south dakota, but not sure which state this might be from. initially i picked this up because it reminded me of robert smithson's work, particularly the earlier site works, but also the piles of dirt with mirrors, etc. and of course, because of the utter strangeness of the image of a small house with a sort of messy garden of rocks, a far cry from ian hamilton finlay's little sparta (although both are loved by me through image as having equal value...).

tonight, as i was looking through a pile of photos, i discovered the image again, and couldn't help but see these forms as tears. i've enlarged the small mountain of tears, and i think enlarged it looks a bit too much like rocks, but if you look at the complete photo, where scale is real and relative, maybe you can see what i'm talking about. as if some giant tears had fallen from the sky, perhaps from clouds crying, and these forms of multiple tears exist simply; as if the tears had fallen into certain places, and upon certain things, including sometimes other tears. one wonders if there was so much pain in the sky what sounds might have accompanied such crying.

the other thing is the idea that tears turn to stone and exist for us always as a kind of stain of memory. here one has to navigate all of the sadness of one's life as a series of humble monuments just to get to the entrance of the museum. if one is fortunate, or strong enough, to navigate the larger tragedies of their life, one gets to enter the museum, where perhaps the remainder of tears are smaller, like books or hair clips. then, once in the protective shell of the shack, one sees tears that are not only built from smaller tragedy, but tears of happiness and love.

in a small display case, with cracked glass and worn wooden edges, there are some of the simplest microscopic murmurings, quiet yearnings unrealized, and things a bit sad but also forgotten tears that were shed when the crying was less audible than a whisper, a tear as a presence of quiet breath...

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when bell sounds are spheres...

illustration from sound light and heat 1887

a stellar illustration of sound waves emanating from a bell, from wright's sound, light and heat, london 1887.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

sound pipes, visual pipes...



a cdv of an anonymous bagpipe player taken in leeds, uk, circa 1880; and an early silvertone 78 rpm disc featuring pipe major j. starck. certainly the atmosphere of touch and age upon these two seems perfectly in sync; as the dust, blurs, and dissolving background in the photo tend to have a similar percentage of distraction and disintegration as the surface noises on the music. the beautiful thing about the recording is that normally bagpipes are the loudest acoustic instrument, and here, buried beneath noise and a thick shellac mono surface, the instrument sounds relatively small and dreamy. whereas the acoustic presence might scare the bees from the honey, the gentle presence in the recording might attract the butterflies.

click here to listen to foughaballagh.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

when bees have honey sweetened ears...

title page langstroth's hive and honey bee 1919

today a copy of lorenzo langstroth's the hive & honey bee arrived in the mail. this book, published in 1852 was considered one of the most important texts on bee-keeping at the time, and is still in print and widely used. langstroth, who lived in the philadelphia area, also devised the "movable frame hive" which revolutionized apiary hives forever. as these things always happen, i unpacked the book and happened to open it to the following text:

"that bees can hear, either by their antennae or some other organ, few will now deny, even although the sound of a gun near the hive is entirely unnoticed by them. (langstroth)

"should some alien being watch humanity during a thunderstorm, he might quite similarly decide that thunder was to us inaudible. clap might follow clap without securing any external sign of recognition; yet let a child with tiny voice but shriek for help, and all would at once be awakened to activity. so with the bee: sounds appealing to its instincts meet with immediate response, while others evoke no wasted emotion." (cheshire)

"the sound that bees produce by the vibrating of their wings is often the means of calling one another. if you place a bee hive in a very dark room, their humming will draw the scattered bees together. in vain to you cover the hive or change its place, the bees will invariably go towards the spot whence the sound comes" (collins, paris, 1875)

to prove that bees can hear is easy, but to determine the location of the organ is more difficult. small holes which were discovered on the surface of the antennae have been considered organs of hearing by lefebure (1838), and by others later. cheshire has noticed these small holes in the six or seven last articulations of the antannae: holes which become more numerous towards the end of the antannae, so that the last joint carries perhaps twenty. he, also, considers these as the organs of hearing, especially because they are larger in the drones, who may need to distinguish the sounds of the queen's wings (the queens and the drones, in flight, each have a peculiar and easily distinguishable sound). on this question, prof. cook and his beekeeper's guide says:

"no apiarist has failed to notice the effect of various sounds made by the bees upon their comrades of the hive, and how contagious are the sharp note of anger, the low hum of fear, and the pleasant tone of a swarm as they commence to enter their new home. now, weather insects take note of these vibrations as we recognize pitch, or whether they just distinguish the tremor, i think no one knows".

it's interesting how much of this book is a kind of montage of various histories of bee study with every paragraph coming from a different source. one should try to read it as if each a different voice. since i know nothing about bees technically, i have no idea if these ideas from the early 1900's are accurate or not, but the language and ideas certainly seem poetic and beautiful.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

somewhere between a bell and a book...

man with bell and book 1870's

bell and bookdetail

a cdv from the 1880's that arrived in the mail last week, picturing a man carrying the essential needs of a wanderer...

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Friday, October 17, 2008

natural sounds, desert hermits, and the sublime "nothing"...

natural sounds 7" cover

while i was in marfa a few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me a gift of the book 'the wisdom of the desert' by thomas merton. the body of the book is a series of texts written by desert hermits in egypt, palestine, arabia, and persia in the fourth century AD. i posted one about silence and a stone in the mouth a week or so ago. merton translated the "poems" (a bit like zen koans), and wrote a beautiful text of his own.

here's one of my favorite parts:

"the fruit of this was quies: "rest". not rest of the body, nor even fixation of the exalted spirit upon some point or summit of light. the desert fathers were not, for the most part, ecstatics. those who were have left some strange and misleading stories behind them to confuse the true issue. the "rest" which these men sought was simply the sanity and poise of a being that no longer has to look at itself because it is carried away by the perfection of freedom that is in it. and carried where? wherever love itself, or the divine spirit, sees fit to go. rest, then, was a kind of simple no-whereness and no-mindedness that had lost all preoccupation with a false or limited "self". at peace in the possession of a sublime "nothing" the spirit laid hold, in secret, upon the "all" - without trying to know what it possessed."

you are probably wondering what this has to do with the picture of the 7" i have posted here, containing the sounds of wildlife and nature, recorded at a nature reserve in florida in the mid 1970's. well, it's just one of those things i tend to find connections in, feeling the text and the sound bound together with a similar kind of pink string one binds together lawrence weiner's first dusk and last dawn stars. for some internal emotional reason they simply fit together, and this fitting just feels right.

the trajectory of "rest" that merton speaks of seems not only about a kind of peace within oneself, but also a kind of reckoning within oneself - a kind of cleansing before death. when one listens to the recording of "mountain lake sanctuary" one is immediately struck by the fervor of life, frantic, manic, and of course at the same time completely sublime. the goofy narration which i cut off of the beginning likened the various animals to instruments in an orchestra, but what if instead of instruments, each sound or animal was actually a mark or a moment in a timeline.

in this way, the recording could become a kind of narrative, with each sound as a kind of surrogate for a specific historical moment, so that the speed and order of sounds becomes an audio equivalent of a visual montage of someone's life (such as one of those scenes in a movie when someone's entire life passes before their eyes in a matter of seconds). listening in this way, allows a recording of nature to exist as a metaphor for the trajectory of a person moving towards the "rest" merton speaks of. certainly it is not too much of a stretch to hear such a path through this recording, particularly as one gets closer to the ending.

after being submerged in a cloud of natural sounds, one is confronted with a gentle surprise, which clearly signals a move towards no-whereness and no-mindedness. when the ethereal notes of a carillon drift into the picture, the whole thing moves from present to distant, fluctuating between the natural and supernatural (yes, it is quite a spirit-like presence). these last few moments of the recording feel as if a ghost has descended upon the scene, floated gently down to earth to tenderly hold one's hand, and to carry them off, as if floating, towards that same "sublime nothing" that merton speaks of.

click here to listen.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

silence... wind... mystery...




three gaping holes of emptiness by e. gomringer, from concrete poetry, an international anthology, london, 1967

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the essence as a dewdrop on a little blade of grass...

satyajit ray book cover 1981

satyajit ray: i'll tell you a story here. in 1928, when i was seven, i went with my mother to tagore's university. i had my little autograph book, newly bought, and my mother gave the book to tagore and said, "my son would like a few lines of verse from you." and he said, "leave the book with me". next day i went to collect it, and he brought it out and said: "i have written something for you, which you won't understand now, but when you grow up you will understand it." it's one of the best things he ever wrote in a small manner, and what it means is this: "i have travelled all around the world to see the rivers and the mountains, and i've spent a lot of money. i have gone to great lengths, i have seen everything, but i have forgotten to see just outside of my house a dewdrop on a little blade of grass, a dewdrop which reflects in its convexity the whole universe around you."

interviewer: and this dewdrop is in the indian tradition?

ray: yes, this is indian tradition. it's very, very important. the presence of the essential thing in a very small detail, which you must catch in order to express the larger things; and this is in indian art, this is in rajput miniatures, this is in ajanta, this is in ellora, this is in the classics, in kalidasa, in sakuntala, in folk - poetry, in folk - singing. this is the essence i think.

interviewer: this essence is an enormous combination of the cosmic and the microscopic... or electron microscopic?

ray: yes, and this is becoming more and more clear to me. i recently bought a book with a whole series of electron-microscope photographs of points, pin-points, of this and that, maybe a little piece of algae, a piece of protoplasm or the head of a thing, and the patterns that it reveals, it goes back to the upanishads...i don't know what a two thousand times more powerful microscope is going to show... how far life extends in the cellular form. i think of this awareness of the cellular form in early classics... and i think of works of art as being cellular, as being little, little nodes, little, little molecules which connect up in details and details and also in a total conception of the general form and a conception of the detail, in a density, a richness...

an interview with satyajit ray, from the booksatyajit ray - film india, 1981, found at the flea market on sunday...

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

a blue butterfly and sad tuesday...

red and blue sad tuesday with butterfly

a postcard and envelope from a ham radio station operator from new zealand, posted to someone in chicago in 1938. these cards are called 'QSL' cards, and were sent as a confirmation that the two distant stations could hear each other's signal. most operators seemed to have posted the cards they received on their station walls, along with vast maps, as a way of visualizing the distant reach of their signals. you can see a nice collection of french ones online here. i don't collect these cards in general, although i have a few with real photos of amateur radio operators amidst all their gear in their tiny 'radio stations', usually a basement or corner of a bedroom.

anyone who frequents the blog will probably surmise my attraction to this one is related to the butterfly image (you can read a recent post on aby warburg's 'seelentierchen' a few weeks ago as a start...), and in particular i was attracted to the fact that this card not only contained a butterfly, but is also colored red and blue, a relationship to butterflies and color that i keep inside me.

i am guessing c.o. pepperell decided on the butterfly and birds motif as a metaphor for helping his radio signal fly through the air to distant lands, and indeed he seems to have gotten at least as far as chicago! i wonder what kind of sounds his birds and butterfly carried through the airwaves.

the interesting thing about collecting objects that for the most part were kept as part of a person's personal life, is the notations and details within which one begins to detect an intimate moment in another person's life. on the envelope that pepperell sent to chicago, he wrote the words "sad tuesday, august 2, 1938". i googled this date and other than the first experiment using a yellow baseball in a major league baseball game, i could find nothing else of note. unless pepperell was a fantatical baseball purist and hated the idea of a yellow ball instead of a white one, i would imagine something in pepperell's personal life must've happened around that time.

it's strange to relate all this back to warburg, who at times told his troubles to butterflies. i can imagine an amateur radio operator in chicago receiving this envelope with a butterfly inside, and the words "sad tuesday" written on the envelope being a bit confused. like warburg's seelentierchen, pepperell's butterfly and birds must've also been the recipients of shared sadness, and similarly then flew away. the image and the object are keepers of someone's pain and sadness; a butterfly and an envelope, both containing echoes yet unable to speak. they are only listeners, and unlike radio stations with strong signals, they broadcast only a small a bit of solace in their silence, as if the station has gone off the air, and it's weakened signal a tiny stream of quiet static.

because today is also tuesday, i send good thoughts to c.o.pepperell in the hopes that the sadness of that tuesday 70 years ago didn't last too long, and didn't hit too hard; and that a certain small happiness was found perhaps, on wednesday, or thursday morning the latest...

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Monday, October 13, 2008

what they would see if men were the size of bees...

beehives eastern europe circa 1920

in maurice maeterlinck's the life of bees, he imagines what a beehive would look like to a man the size of a worker bee. in juan antonio ramirez's book the beehive metaphor, he suggests that the forms and mechanics of manmade beekeeper's beehives influenced a number of modern architects, such as le corbusier, antonio gaudi, peter behrens, and bruno taut. since maeterlinck's text is quoted in ramirez's book, one is given a kind of permission to not only equate maeterlinck's text with a natural hive, but also a man made one. so one can look at the RPPC above (from eastern europe circa 1920), and imagine one of the men shrunken down to the size of a bee, given wings, and drifting inside. maeterlinck's description feels a bit psychedelic, and suggests the architecture of bruce goff as written about by jose luis borges...:

from the very top of a cupola greater in size than that in st. peter's in rome right down to the ground, enormous walls of wax, vertical, double and parallel, descend; enormous geometrical constructions suspended in the darkness and emptiness... each one of these walls, made of a substance which is still fresh, virginal, silvery and sweet-smelling is formed of thousands of cells containing sufficient food to feed an entire population for several weeks. here we can see the brilliant red, yellow, pink, and black stains caused by the pollen, the love juice of all the spring flowers in the transparent cells. all around, in long, magnificent, golden pendants, in rigid, immobile folds, the april honey lies in its twenty thousand sealed reservoirs which will only be opened in time of extreme need...

ramirez's book is full of interesting facts related to the history of bee keeping as well as architecture, and he draws lines between things in a much more intuitive way than most academics writing about architecture (i haven't read many who have written about bees...). i would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in such a personal approach to the intersection of seemingly disconnected histories.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

the seeker of honey...

bee keepere with a bee house

great 1920s RPPC from eastern europe of a beekeeper and a bee house.

i can't help but think about the scale relationship to the man and the little house, and how he could probably just about compress himself into a small enough form to fit inside of it. i keep thinking how it might feel to build such a small thing and get inside of it for a long period of time, not so much as a kind of endurance (think chris burden in a school locker), but as kind of strangely comforting darkness, like lying inside a sleeping bag with your head buried where your feet would usually go. lately when i've had trouble doing something with my hands, i've found myself closing my eyes and instead of directing the action through my eyes, i work with the activity of touch in a much more direct way, and my hands respond with a kind of agility i've never known.

looking at the photo, i also began to think about a conversation i had with someone in marfa last week, who goes to a kind of meditational retreat every few years for 10 days, where one is not allowed to talk or read (as well as a gaggle of other more obvious no no's). he mentioned that it usually took about 3 days to get everything out of you, before a deeper kind of conscious thought could begin. so i wonder about a space this small and being inside it in darkness and what thoughts might eventually fall away, as well as what might bubble to the surface, and how, like my hands, one would begin to feel and control one's body. based upon the smile on the face of the beekeeper here, he seems to be focused on only one thing, and that would have to be honey... or perhaps he's smiling because he's already spent some time in the little house himself.

"been there, done that" his smile seems to say to us, who he knows are thinkers instead of doers. he already knows quite well the painful feeling in his knees and his back from being so compressed and still; and he also knows the darkness inside the wooden structure as well as within himself. he knows the feeling that after two or three days began to fill his body with a tingling and desire, as the residue of bees and honey began to permeate his skin and as well as being breathed into his insides - a feeling of both resting and spreading, a kind of deeply felt longing in its absolute purest form, like a spider web slowly evolving as it is being woven within him.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

the artists speaks...


calling all bay area folks... tomorrow, thursday october 9, at 5:00 PM, i'll be giving a talk on my work in timkin hall at CCA, california college of the arts, at 1111 eighth st., san francisco, ca. the talk is open to the public.

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the parting of crickets and bees...


it was strange how it began, he sitting always in the park, one hand resting on top of the instrument, the other resting on the keys, and he unable to really make it sing. he never really understood the bellows, or the pulling necessary to make it sound, so he sat there daily, moving his fingers up and down the white keys, making only clicking sounds to the world, but music always sounding inside of him. he sat there, like a statue, living half a life, clicking away, and every time anyone passed by the park, he was there, and the clicking, well it sounded a bit like crickets. then, as it happened she wandered nearby holding a guitar, not that she could play it, she was taking it somewhere, i know not where, but somewhere. as she carried it, the wind played a bit on the strings like an aeolian harp, and as she passed him and his clicking, he could hear the strings vibrations, at least a tiny bit. he was blind, and the strings buzzings sounded a bit like bees. he knew not what was around him, but he spoke gently, as if into the air. 'i hear bees, with their transparent wings, and i know what that means'. she stopped to look at him and she listened for a bit to his fingers moving up and down the keys. the clicking sound, well, it moved her in some way, so she stood just behind him and shifted the guitar to catch more wind on the strings. the strings vibrated a bit louder, and the man began to be a bit agitated. the bees were coming closer, and he felt a quiet yearning for the sweetness of their honey. at this point she began to strum the guitar, every once in awhile, between blowings on the strings by the wind. the old guitar was quite out of tune, but he could feel within himself something was right. he whispered something to her, that i did not hear, but the most remarkable thing happened next. for some reason, he grabbed the left side of his accordion and pulled it out as long as it would go, creating an extended rectangle of the bellows almost twice the size of the instrument. as he pressed the sides back together, a wheeze and a whine escaped, and over the landscape a small wind blew from the cracks and holes. and you can even see in this photo, that the trees behind them began to dance from the breeze. for a moment, perhaps even for two or three days, their faces made gentle smiles, and you can just about see them if you look closely. and then, as though their time was up, they parted, and the landscape became quiet again, and he remained making crickets as before.

nietzsche, in his seventy-five aphorisms said, "in parting.- not how one soul comes close to another but how it moves away shows me their kinship and how much they belong together." somehow in all this one senses he was right...

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

o vestido do noivado...

portuguese fado 78, probably 1940's

for those of you who are tired of all my quote posting lately, i know it's been a long time since i've run some old music on airforms, so today i pulled out some 78's and will run a few oddball things in the next week or so. here's a very pretty and sad sounding portugese fado, probably from the 1940's, performed by carlos marques afonso. i don't know anything about him, the recording is not spectacular, but it sounds heartfelt and quite beautiful, and is the kind of thing a non-specialist like myself can fall in love with easily. i think rather than more words, i'll leave it to you to listen and enjoy in silence.

click here to listen to "o vestido do noviado"

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Monday, October 06, 2008

when seismographs hide under the stairs confronted by morphine...

cabinet card musician with horn 1880's

"the poet is like a seismograph that vibrates from every quake, even if it is thousands of miles away. it's not that he thinks incessantly of all things in the world. but they think of him. they are in him, and thus do they rule over him. even his dull hours, his depressions, his confusions are impersonal states; they are like the spasms of the seismograph, and a deep enough gaze could read more mysterious things in them than in his poems...

strangely he lives in the house of time, beneath the staircase, where everyone must pass by and no one pays attention... there he dwells and sees and hears his wife and brothers and children as they go up and down the stairs, speaking of him as a man who has disappeared, or even as a dead man, mourning over him. but it is forbidden for him to reveal himself, and so he lives unknown beneath the staircase of his own house...

[the poet] is unable to pass by any thing, however inconspicuous. that there is something like morphine in the world, and that there was ever something like athens or rome or carthage, that there have been human markets and that there are human markets, the existence of asia and tahiti, of ultraviolet rays and the skeletons of prehistoric animals, this handful of facts and the myriad of such facts from all orders of things are somehow always there for him, waiting for him somewhere in the dark, and he must reckon with them."

3 quotes by hugo von hofmannsthal from a lecture entitled 'the poet and the present time', published in 1907 and quoted in philippe alain michaud's abby warburg and the image in motion.

the first quote has me thinking a lot about artists as seismographs, and certainly there have been many, but outside of visual artists i instantly thought aboutedward leon scott's phonoautograph, as well as rilke's essay primal sound, which i've quoted here many times. the second quote i thought was simply beautiful in this idea of the poet's invisibility, and remarkably will, over at journey around my skull, just posted something about victor hugo, and there is an incredible bit about hugo sitting at a dinner table, seeming very much like the poet under the stairs. the third quote would obviously be attractive to one who has gathered so many of the things i share with you here...

and the old gent in the cabinet photo above? no idea who he is, but he certainly looks as if he's spent quite a bit of his own life as a seismograph, hiding under staircases, and reckoning with things in the dark... and the beautiful minimalist architecture as sculpture he is sitting within is somewhat magical in a broken pathetic human kind of way...

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Friday, October 03, 2008

painting in the instant...

onslowford1 onslowford2

"the instant is an absolute and thus is honoured with a THE before it, as in the mind, the universe.

the instant does not refer to speed. a slow line or a fast line can both be in the instant. there may be intervals between one stage of a painting and another, and yet the whole is in the instant. the instant is ever - present.

the instant refers to attention. in the instant there is a state full attention to what is happening.

in the instant there is a coincidence of events -

wind blowing, grass growing, brush strokes appearing.

all there is, is in the instant".

a quote from gordon onslow ford's painting in the instant.

today i drive to oakland for the opening of the exhibition LA PAINT at the oakland museum of art.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

like a starry cloth...

detail RPPC circa 1900

"At night i light with a candle this cabin of granite and pine.
There is a high wind; it threatens and sighs at the doors, triumphs
ragingly and rivulets down the leaves opposite: a glorious whirl...
The window is open, the sky all clear. Decorating it, with stitches
and embroidery, like a starry cloth.

Neither the music of Pythagoras, nor the fearsome silence of
Pascal: some things very near and very precise, as a spider might see
his web from within when it has rained and droplets gleam at each

excerpt from 'the peasant's house' by francis ponge, translated by john montague.
image: detail of RPPC, circa 1900

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

the wisdom of the desert...

"it was said of abbot agatho that for three years he carried a stone in his mouth until he learned to be silent"

from the wisdom of the desert, translated by thomas merton.