Friday, October 26, 2007

Harold Stearns- critic of America

I blogged about Harold Stearns before: critic and intellectual. I ran into a Times article about his death; notice the date, it was written in 1943.

Perhaps the most expatriated of the young expatriates was Harold Stearns, who was known to his intimates as a "picturesque ruin." Behind Harold Stearns, in America, lay the broken promise of a brilliant career—essays in The New Republic, editorship of The Dial, prime mover of the famous iconoclastic symposium Civilization in the United States. To the ruin of his career, Expatriate Stearns seemed anxious to add the ruin of himself. The news of his death caused friends to remember the days when, as he confessed in his autobiographical The Street I Know, he made a career of drink and an occupation out of borrowing money. Remembering the stir caused by his symposium, viper-tongued critics would say: "There goes American civilization—in the gutter."

the new me

go here to re-create yourself-

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

more amusing muses

The Surrealists' Muse, by Francine Du Plessix Gray, from the New Yorker

“…Marie-Laure [de Noailles] met the last great love of her life, a Spanish painter named Oscar Dominguez, one of the few heterosexuals she ever took up with. Dominguez, four years older than she, was born in the Canary Islands and, after moving to Paris, hung out on the fringes of the Surrealist movement. A man whose face resembled that of an Easter Island statue, Dominguez was a heavy drinker given to outrageous behavior- he would shout out “My penis is hard as gold” at the dinner table. According to a friend, the couple looked like the union of a transvestite Louis XVI and a Cro-Magnon man, and even at formal parties they pawed at each other like teenagers.”

“…there was something subversive about the institution of the fairy tale in France during the 1690s, for it enabled writers to create a dialogue about norms, manners, and power that evaded court censorship and freed the fantasy of the writers and readers, while at the same time paying tribute to the French code of civilité and the majesty of the aristocracy. Once certain discursive paradigms and conventions were established, a writer could demonstrate his of her “genius” by rearranging, expanding, deepening, and playing with the known functions of a genre that, by 1715, had already formed a type of canon…”

-Jack Zipes from the Introduction, Spells of Enchantment

Friday, October 19, 2007


Some concluded or abandoned blogs, that I have run into, for later browsing:
...musings from a sidelong naturalist about poetry, place and wonder.

I’m the kind of person you can tell a joke to several times. I simply don’t remember them. I like it that way—I have the true enjoyment of being made to laugh more than once. I’ve become that kind of bird watcher. No longer writing down and keeping track of which birds I see, and remembering which I “know” and which I don’t “know”, I’m free now to see them for the first time every time.
His near stammering. With disconcerting promptness one word hid behind another. -- Maurice Blanchot, Le Dernier Homme

Faced with the prospect of a day or the memory of a night, the thin grey sheet, twilight of writing. You write to empty yourself, or hope the act of writing, will do.The pen forms a stroke, a single letter-word, "I," first person singular. Or the downstroke of a T as in the word "The" or "This." A single line and the unconquerable absence. Thus,
"A controlled study of situational decomposition."
Mildly obsessive-compulsive. Keeps a messy desk. Writes in 4-5 notebooks simultaneously, this being one.

Wednesday, September 20
The damp has set in, and rot everywhere

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

objet trouvé

1st photo- Photographer - Mark Segal
2nd picture - Remedios Varo- "Creation of Birds"

"… all forms of intellectual activity- even those which seem on the surface very different: poetry and mathematics…are fundamentally the same sort of thing, merely arrangements or organizations of selected elements of experience."- Edmund Wilson Axel's Castle

You can be me when I'm gone…..

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

axel's castle

"The world of imagination is shown us in Yeats's early poetry as something infinitely delightful, infinitely seductive, as something to which one becomes addicted, with which one becomes delirious and drunken- and as something which is somehow incompatible with, and fatal to, the good life of that actual world which is so full of weeping and from which it is so sweet to withdraw."

Axel's Castle -Edmund Wilson

Thursday, October 04, 2007

synchronicity and blood

The first photo from this photographer- (how I feel sometimes)

In the past week I had two dreams of blood. One of the dreams I had cut myself and felt the blood run down my hand. The sight of the blood made my stomach knot up so tightly that it woke me up and I felt nauseous. The next day at work, I had two bloody noses.
The other dream I had: a basin that was overflowing with blood.

I remember reading about the connection to blood and perfume; it was in a book titled, Scent, by Annick Le Guérer: "the power of perfume have centered upon its similarity to magical potions, its association with the mythologies of vital fluids such as sap and blood". There is a whole chapter on Blood, Incense and Ritual.

I looked for a blood in contemporary perfumes, the closest thing I found was with blood orange: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Sanguine Muskissime, reviewed here.

Sanguine is one of the four humors that relate to blood. The other three are: Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.

The Sanguine temperament, according to Wiki:

Sanguine indicates the personality of an individual with the temperament of blood, the season of spring (wet and hot), and the element of air. A person who is sanguine is generally optimistic, cheerful, confident, popular, and fun-loving. He/She can be day dreamy and off-task to the point of not accomplishing anything and can be impulsive, possibly acting on whims in an unpredictable fashion. Sanguines usually have a lot of energy, but have a problem finding a way to direct the energy. This also describes the manic phase of a bipolar disorder.

I'm more of a Choleric type, myself.

Some history of the blood orange:

"The Blood, Moro, or Maltese Oranges are very old orange varieties. There is some historical evidence that the blood orange hybrid first appeared in Southern Europe around 1850 and was then brought to North America many decades later by Spanish and Italian immigrants. Commonly know throughout most of the world as "blood," "blood-red" or "blush" oranges, they have a number of other common or regional names."

Last week, within one hour I read two reviews of the same book, not intentionally. One in the New Yorker, the other in Raintaxi (which does not have it available online).
In Her Absence
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen (Other Press)

Mario believes that his wife, Blanca, has disappeared and been replaced by an impostor who is almost identical, only more sensual and tender. Thus begins the story of an unlikely marriage. Mario, guided by the lessons of his working-class origins, values “almost nothing in life more than stability.” But Blanca, privileged and with an “innate” sense of entitlement, has come to feel that their life is one “from which great experiences were absent.” Mario is infatuated with Blanca; Blanca is infatuated with art. As her interest shifts from one trendy artist to another, Mario strives to keep pace. Muñoz Molina layers a subtle satire of artistic hypocrisy with a stirring account of class separation. Mario is entranced by his wife’s “aura of uncertainty” but cannot escape his own self-annihilating caution. “Penury,” he reflects, “makes people fearful and conformist.”

Monday, October 01, 2007

dangerous blonde sunday

Sunday, I spent nearly the whole day in bed reading the biography of Caroline Blackwood (Dangerous Muse: The Life of Lady Caroline Blackwood by Nancy Schoenberger). Blackwood was born in London in 1931, grew up in Ireland and lived sporadically in America until her death in1996. She is famous for her beauty, her eccentricity, her writings and her husbands (the painter, Lucian Freud and the poet, Robert Lowell). What struck me about her was her slovenliness, her alcoholism and her morbidity. Nevertheless, it makes for a magnetic read. I wondered if she had not been beautiful and titled, would she have become a writer and would she have even been famous at all? I am quite enchanted by muses, how little they are acknowledged and valued and the creatively inspired havoc they can unleash on their lovers/artists.

I came across this book while browsing the late Theresa Duncan's blog; she quotes in her post, a little from this review of the biography. I was immediately intrigued and went out to check out the book from my library. The pictures above are: Lucian Freud's portrait of Lady Blackwood and the cover of the book, which is a photo taken by Walker Evans.

Here is an excerpt of an article written about Lowell and his last minutes of life- it gives insight into the ill-fated marriage between Lowell and Blackwood:

On this day [September 12] in 1977 the poet Robert Lowell died at the age of sixty in the back seat of a New York City taxi. He had hailed the cab at JFK airport and was heading up to West 67th Street, returning to his ex-wife, the writer Elizabeth Hardwick. He had just flown back from a disastrous trip to Ireland, where he had gone to explain to his present wife, the Anglo-Irish Lady Caroline Blackwood -- like Hardwick a writer, as well as heiress to the Guinness Stout fortune -- why their marriage was over. The meeting at Blackwood's estate outside Dublin had of course ended badly, with Blackwood storming out with her three children -- the son she had had with Lowell and two daughters from two former marriages, one to the painter, Lucien Freud (grandson of Sigmund Freud), one to the composer, Israel Citcowitz. At the end, Lowell still clutched in his stiffening arms one of Lucien Freud's paintings of the young Blackwood, staring out from the canvas into the void.