Saturday, January 31, 2009

And The Words - All Of Them - Were Now Made Flesh

Fig. 1. Julian Opie - This is Shahnoza in three parts 01, 2008

'That's what writing is. It's the pace of the written word passing through your body.'

Marguerite Duras

Your Ears Will Orgasm #34: Philip Glass - Knee Play 3 (MixPod Player)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Music Is The Sound That Silence Makes In Our Souls

Fig. 1. Paolo Veronese - The Wedding at Cana (detail), 1562-63

'There is something about music that keeps its distance even at the moment that it engulfs us. It is at the same time outside and away from us and inside and part of us. In one sense it dwarfs us, and in another we master it. We are led on and on, and yet in some strange way we never lose control.'

Aaron Copland

Your Ears Will Orgasm #33: Corelli - Trio Sonatas (MixPod Player)

1. Arcangelo Corelli - Trio Sonata No.1 in F Major

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This Is Why The Resurrection Cannot Be Televised

Fig. 1. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1602-3

'Sacrifice restores to the sacred world that which servile use has degraded, rendered profane. Servile use has made a thing (an object) of that which, in a deep sense, is of the same nature as the subject, is in a relation of intimate participation with the subject. It is not necessary that the sacrifice actually destroy the animal or plant of which man had to make a thing for his use. They must at least be destroyed as things, that is, insofar as they have become things.'

Georges Bataille

Your Ears Will Orgasm #32: Arvo Pärt - Psalm (MixPod Player)

1. Arvo Pärt - Psalm

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If The Sacred Isn't Everywhere, It Isn't Anywhere

Fig. 1. Pierre Bonnard - The Dessert, 1940

'Painting has to get back to its original goal; examining the inner lives of human beings.'

Pierre Bonnard

Addendum: Belatedly (Here), Timely (There) - Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January)

Fig. 2. Ghetto armband, early 1940s

Your Ears Will Orgasm #31: The Tsinandali Choir - Orovela (MixPod Player)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Lever Of Your Suffering Can Also Be A Passport

Fig. 1. Giovanni Bellini - Dead Christ Supported by Angels (Pietà), c. 1474

'The poetic work is sacred in that it is a ... "communication" experienced as nakedness. It is self-violation, baring, communication to others of a reason for living, and this reason for living "shifts".'

Colette Peignot (aka Laure)

Your Ears Will Orgasm #30: Not Simply Blood (MixPod Player)

Addendum: Katie's Gift and Our Good Fortune

The gifts that come to us from far away, and which arrive without our expecting them, touch us far more deeply, and inexplicably, than those bought locally and with our foreknowledge. This one has been sent to us by our esteemed friends Katie and E.S.V. Millay:

I'm not sure if the Miserere mei Deus is helping to keep your atrabiliousness at bay, but it sure is a pretty piece.

While I'm not a religious person, the Bellini painting is quite powerful. And it leads me, of course, to an ESVM poem:

Song of the Nations

Out of
Night and alarm,
Out of
Darkness and dread,
Out of old hate,
Grudge and distrust,
Sin and remorse,
Passion and blindness;
Shall come
Dawn and the birds,
Shall come
Slacking of greed,
Snapping of fear -
Love shall fold warm like a cloak
Round the shuddering earth
Till the sound of its woe cease.

Terrible dreams,
Crying in sleep,
Grief beyond thought,
Twisting of hands,
Tears from shut lids
Wetting the pillow;
Shall come
Sun on the wall,
Shall come
Sounds from the street
Children at play -
Bubbles too big blown, and dreams
Filled too heavy with horror
Will burst and in mist fall.

Sing then,
You who were dumb,
Shout then
Into the dark;
Are we not one?
Are not our hearts
Hot from one fire,
and in one mold cast?
Out of
Night and alarm,
Out of
Terrible dreams,
Reach me your hand,
This is the meaning of all that we
Suffered in sleep, - the white peace
Of the waking.

E.S.V. Millay

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Frames And Names For The Vomit Of Chaos

Fig. 1. Cyprien Gaillard - Pruitt-Igoe Falls, 2008

'Before the seas and lands had been created,
before the sky that covers everything,
Nature displayed a single aspect only
throughout the cosmos; Chaos was its name,
a shapeless, unwrought mass of inert bulk
and nothing more, with the discordant seeds
of disconnected elements all heaped
together in anarchic disarray.

The sun as yet did not shine upon the earth,
nor did the crescent moon renew her horns,
nor was the earth suspended in midair,
balanced by her own weight, nor did the ocean
extend her arms to the margins of the land.

Although the air and sea were present,
land was unstable, the sea unfit for swimming,
the air lacked light; shapes shifted constantly,
and all things were at odds with one another,
for in a single mass cold strove with warm,
wet was opposed to dry and soft to hard,
and weightlessness to matter having weight.

Some god (or kinder nature) settled this
dispute by separating earth from heaven,
and then by separating sea from earth
and fluid aether from the denser air;
and after these were separated out
and liberated from the primal heap,
he bound the disentangled elements
each in its place and all in harmony.'

Ovid (from Metamorphoses, translated by Charles Martin)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And Now - How To Milk A Bull Without Really Trying

The Sunday Six #10: Roy Lichtenstein - Bull Profile Series, 1973

Fig. 1. Bull I

Fig. 2. Bull II

Fig. 3. Bull III

Fig. 4. Bull IV

Fig. 5. Bull V

Fig. 6. Bull VI

'Happiness is the longing for repetition.'

Milan Kundera

Your Ears Will Orgasm #29: Oh shit, here comes the fucking sun! (MixPod Player)

Ten versions of Here Comes the Sun by: The Beatles, Carl Perkins, Nina Simone, Peter Tosh, Jewel & Rob Thomas, Nick Cave, Richie Havens, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Sarah Bettens, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. Take your pick.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No, Reality Doesn't Unfold - It Is The Unfolding Itself

Fig. 1. Andreas Gursky - Tokyo Stock Exchange, 1990

'[Philosophy] must constitute itself as a theory of what we are doing, not as a theory of what there is.'

Gilles Deleuze

Friday, January 23, 2009

Threnody For A Dead President And His Living Spirit

President Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Address, March 4th, 1865:


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war-seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.'

Note: All images courtesy of Harper's Weekly, May 6th, 1965 edition.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Callous Silence Of Undeclared Affection: Part 2

Fig. 1. Ron Mueck - Dead Dad, 1996-7

'And then my father looked at me. For just a moment, our eyes met and I watched as he opened his mouth, as if to beckon me closer. I did step closer and placed my hands on the rail at the foot of his bed. I waited to hear what he was going to say to me. It was like the pause after a flash of lightning, before the thunder.

He opened his mouth and then I saw a certain resignation in his eyes and the fire in them dimmed, then vanished altogether. He closed his mouth and then his eyes. My father had changed his mind. He had decided that he had, in the end, nothing to say to me.

And I knew somehow these would be his last words. To my brother he had said, "You've been a good boy, a good son." And to me he'd said nothing. He would not, at the very end, give me even one word.

And standing there, I felt a sense of loss. Not for myself but for him. He had missed so much not knowing me. He had denied himself his greatest accomplishment - to just be a dad.

Uncle Bob roared with laughter in the next room. "All their kids were cross-eyed and I was scared to death of cross-eyed folks. I would beg John not to make me do it, but he would gleefully have me follow him right past that old house filled with cross-eyed kids. Crazy, I know it, I know it. But I still don't like cross-eyed people - they're spooky!"

For a while, I watched my father sleep. Briefly, he awoke and turned his face toward the window Though he could see only the room reflected back in the dark glass, he continued to stare. I saw him shiver, then a tiny cry - a whimper - escaped him. He seemed so utterly small. Only the hospice nurse hovered near him; everybody else was in the other room. I wondered, if he'd been a different man, would everyone now be gathered around his bed, photographs scattered on the thin blanket, his favourite music playing on the stereo, laughter in the air, hands touching him? My father was dying alone, just a few feet away from his family.

Later that evening, I left. During the drive home, I thought of my friend George, who had died so many years before. He, too, had wasted to nearly nothing, just a sliver of his former self, but somehow he'd retained every pound, every ounce of his being. George had died with his magnitude intact.

The boy whose photograph I studied as a child, who was raised by three doting teenage aunts in a small white house in Chickamauga, the boy who had a drugstore all to himself and loved the Andrews Sisters, who went to Catholic military school and studied Latin and became battalion commander, who was a preacher and then a philosopher, who married my mother and terrified me so fully that I could think only of pushing him off a cliff, this man who had tumbled backward down his stairs and never healed, was, at last, dead.

I was free of him.'

Augusten Burroughs (from A Wolf At The Table)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Callous Silence Of Undeclared Affection: Part 1

Fig. 1. Andres Serrano - The Morgue Part II (Death By Natural Causes), 1992

'The large dining room table and eight chairs had been moved out of the room and I wondered briefly where they could be stored. The sideboard was still in place, though it was covered now with the supplies one requires to transport the living into death - hypodermic needles, a plastic rack filled with small glass ampules, a portable cardiac monitor inside a padded canvas carrying case. A steel-framed hospital bed had been positioned in the dining table's place and in this bed, my father lay, his withered body wasted down to under one hundred pounds. His skin was the colour of butter and the whites of his eyes were bright yellow and made me think of a wolf's.

Two months before, my father had fallen backward down his stairs. He'd been taken first to a hospital, then a nursing home for physical therapy. But the medications had been too hard on his liver. Instead of growing stronger in the nursing home, he became weaker, smaller. And now he was dying.

A catheter bag strapped to the side of his bed frame contained only the smallest amount of urine - soon, his kidneys would cease altogether. Maybe in an hour, maybe a day.

The hospice nurse placed a small morphine drip control wand in my father's hand. "When you feel you need more, just push the button right there on the tip. You only need to push it once and you'll get another dose."

Though it was only three in the afternoon it felt much later, because up here on the mountain where my father and his wife had lived for over twenty years, the trees blocked most of the light and the larger mountain behind the house cut the sun off a couple of hours before it set.

My father's wife busied herself in the kitchen, making pitchers of iced tea, wiping the counters with a sponge, brewing coffee. My father's brother and his brother's wife had flown up from Alabama. But my father was too sick for any socializing.

Uncle Bob took a chair in the sunroom, just off the dining room. Aunt Relda had poured him a drink, three fingers of whiskey, and now sat with an iced tea on the sofa. My father's wife had finished up in the kitchen and was now sitting in the recliner opposite Uncle Bob. My brother sat on the sofa beside Relda looking lost and sad. I sat on the floor at Uncle Bob's feet, looking up at him. It was comforting to hear his full, ripe southern accent. It made me realize my father's had been smoothed out over the years, like a stone in a river.

"Now, you have to remember, Marist was the Catholic military school that we attended as boys in Atlanta. And by God, ol' John was battalion commander his senior year there. Buddy?" And here, he looked pointedly at me. "That was no small thing. Battalion commander is the top cadet. Your daddy was the mutherfucker that got to call quittin' time."

I realized I must have seen photographs of my father in his school uniform, an officer's hat perched on his head. I stood up and walked through the dining room, past my father, who gazed at the ceiling with glassy, unfocused eyes. I jogged up the three steps and walked into his office. I pulled his old photo album from the bottom shelf of his bookcase and carried it back into the dining room. Standing beside his bed, I opened the album to the first page. "I thought maybe you'd like to look at some childhood pictures," I said, holding the album before his eyes.

I imagined that if I were dying it would be a comfort to see, again, my long-dead mother, my distant childhood. But my father simply closed his eyes and rolled his head away from me so that his cheek rested on the pillow. "Well, maybe later," I said. A few hours later, while I sat in the sunroom listening to Uncle Bob tell more stories, I watched my brother step up to the hospital bed. Gently, he stroked our father's head. I rose from the sofa and entered the dining room, standing back near the foot of the bed.

In a gravelly whisper my father said to my brother, "You've been a good boy. A good son."'

[To be continued...]

Augusten Burroughs (from A Wolf At The Table)

Your Ears Will Orgasm #28: Winter In Paradise (MixPod Player)

Dmitry Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 15 in E flat minor, Op. 144

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Noble Dream - But Can The Dream Survive Reality?

Fig. 1. Robert Frank - Parade (Hoboken, New Jersey), 1955

Aboard At A Ship's Helm

Aboard at a ship's helm,
A young steersman steering with care.

Through fog on a sea-coast dolefully ringing,
An ocean-bell - O a warning bell, rock'd by the waves.

O you give good notice indeed, you bell by the sea-reefs ringing,
Ringing, ringing, to warn the ship from its wreck-place.

For as on the alert O steersman, you mind the loud admonition,
The bows turn, the freighted ship tacking speeds away under her gray sails,
The beautiful and noble ship with all her precious wealth speeds
away gayly and safe.

But O the ship, the immortal ship! O ship aboard the ship!
Ship of the body, ship of the soul, voyaging, voyaging, voyaging.

Walt Whitman

Addendum #1: The Torch And The Task Have Been Passed To A New Generation

Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech (in full), August 28, 1963

Addendum #2: Ms Tanya Walters And The GYO (Click image to visit the GYO website.)

Addendum #3: A Rock Anthem Turning Twenty-One At, Surely, The Perfect Time

The Patti Smith Group - People Have The Power, 1988

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ode To Those Who've Heard The Barmaids Singing*

Fig. 1. Édouard Manet - Un bar aux Folies Bergère, 1881-2

Fig. 2. John Brack - The Bar, 1954

Fig. 3. Yasumasa Morimura - Daughter of Art History: Theatre B, 1998

'An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.'

Dylan Thomas

* 'I have heard the mermaids singing each to each / I do not think that they will sing to me.' The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1917) by T.S. Eliot


Leonard Cohen - Closing Time (click image to access clip on YouTube)

Fig. 2. The Lost in Space (1965-68) cast: Mark Goddard, June Lockhart, Guy Williams, Billy Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris, Marta Kristen and Bob May (as "The Robot").

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hey Bacchus, Old Buddy - Peel Me A Grape, Will Ya?

The Sunday Six #9: Little Ole Wine Drinker, Me*

Fig. 1. Jacopo Amigoni - Bacchus and Ariadne, n.d.

Fig. 2. Annibale Carracci - Bacchus and Ariadne, 1595

Fig. 3. Peter Paul Rubens - Venus, Cupid, Bacchus and Ceres, 1613

Fig. 4. Nicolas Poussin - The Nurture of Bacchus, c. 1630-35

Fig. 5. Charles Joseph Natoire - The Triumph of Bacchus, 1747

Fig. 6. Jean Leon Gerome - Anacréon, Bacchus and Cupid, 1848

'A vine bears three grapes: the first of pleasure, the second of drunkenness, and the third of repentance.'


* Little Ole Wine Drinker, Me (lyrics by Dean Martin)

Addendum: Two Ladies Who No Longer Need A Special Introduction

Katie and ESVM have penned a few words for us and sent them posthaste all the way from chilly San Francisco. Many thanks to you both. Katie says:

Interesting all these different interpretations of partying with Bacchus. None of these paintings look excessively ribald, which is nice. I can't decide if I want to join in on the fun à la Rubens or Poussin though.

Yesterday I was at the Treasures from Afghanistan [Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul] exhibit in SF (I'll toss up some postcards soon at KF) and one of my favorite pieces was the bronze handle of a bowl with busts of female followers of Bacchus. Plus there were some amazing glass cups and goblets that would have been perfect vessels for wine.

And yes, ESVM had a little something to say on this topic:


I drank at every vine.
The last was like the first.
I came upon no wine
So wonderful as thirst.

I gnawed at every root.
I ate of every plant.
I came upon no fruit
So wonderful as want.

Feed the grape and bean
To the vintner and monger;
I will lie down lean
With my thirst and my hunger.

E.S.V. Millay

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nectar From The Most Beautiful Bottle In The World

Fig. 1. Lemercier & Duval Absinthe Label

'I remember in rehab someone saying that nine months was a turning point. It's like the seven-year itch. I think this must be because we have nine months programmed into us from our time in the womb. After nine months we are ready to make a dramatic change. Be born, or go get drunk.'

Augusten Burroughs (from Dry)*

* Click here for a downloadable PDF copy of the chapter entitled 'Alcoholism For Beginners' from Augusten Burroughs' Dry.

Your Ears Will Orgasm #27: Born Drunk (MixPod Player)

1. I Monster - French Mods Can't Drink
2. Nouvelle Vague - Too Drunk Too Fuck
3. Amy Winehouse - Rehab (Hot Chip Remix)
4. Drive-By Truckers - Daddy Needs A Drink
5. Drag The River - Booze 'n' Pills
6. Carlos & The Bandidos - Jockey Full Of Bourbon


Ray Milland ("Don Birnam") in The Lost Weekend, 1945 - d. Billy Wilder

Obituary: Wyeth's Last Winter

Fig. 2. Andrew Wyeth - Winter, 1946

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Aging Art Of Gazing Into The Simulacra Of Time

Fig. 1. René Magritte - The Eye, 1935

'Painting is there all at once. When I read a book, listen to music, or go to a movie, I experience these works over time. A novel, a symphony, a film, are meaningful only as a sequence of words, notes, and frames. Hours may pass but a painting will not gain or lose any part of itself. It has no beginning, no middle, and no end. I love painting because in its immutable stillness it seems to exist outside time in a way no other art can. The longer I live the more I would like to put the world in suspension and grip the present before it's eaten by the next second and becomes the past. A painting creates an illusion of an eternal present, a place where my eyes can rest as if the clock has magically stopped ticking.'

Siri Hustvedt (from Mysteries of the Rectangle)*

* This link will take you to a downloadable PDF version of the introductory chapter of Siri Hustvedt's Mysteries of the Rectangle.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

You Will Know Her By Her Song, Not By Her Plumage

Fig. 1. Joan Miró - Le chant du rossignol a minuit et la pluie matinale, 1959

'Twentieth-century art may start with nothing, but it flourishes by virtue of its belief in itself, in the possibility of control over what seems essentially uncontrollable, in the coherence of the inchoate, and in its ability to create its own values.'

T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why I Still Forage For You - Even When You Are Here

Fig. 1. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - L'abandon (Les deux amies), n.d.

'And I realised the impossibility which love comes up against. We imagine that it has as its object a being that can be laid down in front of us, enclosed in a body. Alas, it is the extension of that being to all the points in space and time that it has occupied and will occupy. If we do not possess its contact with this or that place, this or that hour, we do not possess that being. But we cannot touch all those points. If only they were indicated to us, we might contrive perhaps to reach out to them. But we grope for them without finding them. Hence mistrust, jealousy, persecutions. We waste precious time on absurd clues and pass by the truth without suspecting it.'

Marcel Proust (from A la recherche du temps perdu: La prisonnière)


Katie and ESVM (aka PFAO) have come to visit us again, and this - with heartfelt thanks - is their contribution:

Poor old Proust - such amazing insight, but he was sick in bed most of the time. I do think I've found him an ESVM companion though.


It's little I care what path I take,
And where it leads it's little I care;
But out of this house, lest my heart break,
I must go, and off somewhere.

It's little I know what's in my heart,
What's in my mind it's little I know,
But there's that in me must up and start,
And it's little I care where my feet go.

I wish I could walk for a day and a night,
And find me at dawn in a desolate place
With never the rut of a road in sight,
Nor the roof of a house, nor the eyes of a face.

I wish I could walk till my blood should spout,
And drop me, never to stir again,
On a shore that is wide, for the tide is out,
And the weedy rocks are bare to the rain.

But dump or dock, where the path I take
Brings up, it's little enough I care;
And it's little I'd mind the fuss they'll make,
Huddled dead in a ditch somewhere.

"Is something the matter, dear," she said,
"That you sit at your work so silently?"
"No, mother no, 'twas a knot in my thread.
There goes the kettle, I'll make the tea."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Shimmering Enchantment Of Impossible Dreams

Fig. 1. Peter Keetman - Spiegelnde Tropfen, 1950

'I have sought, I am searching, and I will search for what I call the Total Phenomenon, that is, the Totality of conscience, relations, conditions, possibilities, and impossibilities.'

Paul Valéry

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Games We Shouldn't Forget To Play: Part Five

Japanese Toy Illustrations (25 to 30 of 30)

Fig. 1.

Fig. 2.

Fig. 3.

Fig. 4.

Fig. 5.

Fig. 6.

'Creativity is about play and a kind of willingness to go with your intuition. It's crucial to an artist. If you know where you are going and what you are going to do, why do it?'

Frank Gehry

Addendum: Two Of The Best From One Of The Best

The skating scene from Modern Times (1936) - d. Charlie Chaplin

The globe scene from The Great Dictator (1940) - d. Charlie Chaplin