Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 25 - 28, 2008

A Series of Small Boxes
Thomas Devaney
2007, paperback
3 cards

Thomas Devaney is a brilliant poet. He writes of life and life lived in such precise ways while not forgetting stamps and refrigerator boxes from childhood. I discovered his poetry also through the June issue of the Believer. The review offered a few lines of the title poem, A Series of Small Boxes (which you can read in full here). After reading those lines I knew I needed this book. While the title poem is still my favorite many gems and brilliant lines linger throughout the entire book. He even writes about Nothing in a well-informed wrestling with John Cage. The fabulous photographer Zoe Strauss, whose work I saw at the Whitney a few years ago, even took his photograph for the back jacket.

1- "Which I also love in a way one can love
A City one has loved and been loved in
Because it enters you, in a way, as you walk,
Buy stamps, tell time..."
3- "Does silence have to mean a lack of silence?"
4- eyes, saying hello
6- "Is this what 'half' looks like?"
8- "all those times we never kept meeting"
10-12- A Series of Small Boxes
12- "corrugated magic"
13- "Clouds replace the clouds."
18- donuts
23- "New Jersey is the greatest poem never written."
35- "Birdwatchers had nothing on what the birds saw."
39- "The most remarkable love poems in the world have nothing to do with it."
-"The calm, late-night companionship of a book.
Assured in words not to be reassured in words.
No promises past the page only all the moment can hold."
41- One Hour, October
43- "Like records when they were records and letters letters."
46- Rimbaud
54- "Everything I had to say I didn't need to say."
55- John Cage
-"the Wallace Stevens line: 'Nothing that is not there and nothing that is"
-"Nothing + Nothing = Something, that is 'Nothing' which is really something," I said not knowing where that came from.
-"Here is a line for not talking, which isn't silence"
56- "I am only describing, as words are one way, and walking is another."
-"new John Cages get added"

June 21 - 27, 2008

The Age of Dreaming
A Novel
Nina Revoyr
Paperback, 2008
4 cards

This book has an amazing title, one which grabbed me as I read one of the Believer Magazine's wonderful reviews. I enjoyed reading this book though it would fall more into an interesting summer read than one that took my breath away. The story weaves between past and present in a way similar to Water for Elephants. An interesting, well-crafted character drives the story and it carries a great sense of place (Los Angeles) throughout.

"That for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts." Nietzsche
14- "And the stranger's phone call yesterday morning was akin to a chance meeting with a friend from one's youth, who reminds one of how much has changed in the intervening years, and how far one's strayed from the course one first embarked upon."
15- "There is no one else who remembers what we did or who we were."
16- Alzheimer's
20- "It is a tragedy when a man's great contributions to the world, once heralded by all, simply vanish beneath the rollings waves of time."
22- "...with each turn, more of the city disappears."
30- "There was no future, only the present, and the project of the moment was everything."
61- "'You will always be the standard against which I measure myself. May I always fall just short of your mark.'"
62- Green Lantern- coffee shop
-(Los Angeles) "people seldom gather to engage in substantive conversation"
77 (father's words) "'Live where you are, no only where you think you should be. Otherwise, you will end up living nowhere.'"
81- "For silent movies are a singular forms, one that viewers cannot appreciate without a basis for understanding what they see."
-"lost too has been the language to discuss them."
107- "Almost always, I undertake these excursions alone. There is something to be said for experiencing great art, or nature, but oneself; the absence of other people makes the enjoyment more pure, and one's perceptions grow acute and discerning."
-"Nonetheless I cannot deny that it is pleasant to occasionally partake in the company of others."
-diners- Silver Spoon on Hollywood Blvd.
134- Book Haven
141- "I wanted to ask her a million questions, but did not know where to begin."
188- "'he's interested in my mind.'"
240- audience- supply the absent connections
254- diner
262- speaking one's heart
326- "We understood that moving images are the catalysts of dreams- more eloquent when undisturbed by voices."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 21 - 22, 2008

Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Hardcover, Peter Pauper Press, Mt. Vernon
5 cards

The cover of this book offers the sense that this is a true, classic library book and the pages, with their black text and red page numbers and illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, further emphasizes its classic nature. There are also lots of great stamps from the library all over the copy I read and, according to one stamp, I think it may have been acquired by the library on February 10, 1959. Does any of this matter? Perhaps not, but all of this made me wonder about all of the people who have read this copy of Alice in Wonderland. While familiar with the story, I realized my knowledge had been filtered through the Disney. The original book is, of course, unparalleled. Carroll masterfully integrates into the story issues of questions and answers that resonate in Duchampian ways. Alice deals with issues of identity, knowing who one is and where one is going. Carroll also plays with language and meaning and related issues of différance. A story worth reading and any and many ages since as one acquires more knowledge the lens through which one reads will continue to shift, revealing additional treasures within the story's sentences.

5- Proem- "Our wanderings to guide."
10- "In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again."
11- maps
19- "...but Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way."
20- "Curiouser and curiouser!"
-"Good-bye feet!"
23- "Who in the world am I? Ah that's the great puzzle!"
27 hippopotamus
33- "Speak English!" said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words and what's more I don't believe you do either!"
34- "But who had won?"
78- "'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where-' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you walk,' said the Cat."
-"'-so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation. 'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.'"
85- "'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on. 'I do,' Alice hastily replied: 'at least I mean what I say- that's the same thing, you know.'
'Not the same thing a bit,' said the Hatter."
87- Alice, "'I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, 'than wasting it in asking riddle that have no answers.'
'If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, 'you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him.'"
91- Hatter "'it's very easy to take more than nothing.'"
93- drawing everything that begins with an M
94- drawing of muchness
-Alice, "'I don't think-' 'Then you shouldn't talk,' said the Hatter."
114-115- Duchess, "'Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them otherwise.'"
-Duchess, "'I make you a present of everything I've said as yet.'"
117- Gryphon, picture
128- "'Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?'"
131- porpoise, purpose- "'I mean what I say.'"
-Alice, "'but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.'"
-Gryphon- adventures first
134- "'What is the use of repeating all that stuff,' the Mock Turtle interrupted, 'if you don't explain it as you go on?...'"
145- guinea pig cheered
153- letter
155- "'If there's no meaning in it,' said the King, 'that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn't try to find any. And yet I don't know,' he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee and looking at them with one eye; 'I seem to see some meaning in them, after all.'"

Friday, June 27, 2008

March ? - June 17, 2008

Against Fashion
Clothing as Art 1850-1930
Radu Stern
Hardcover, 2003
27 cards

I learned about the Deutscher Werkbund and the Dress Reform movement in Germany last year and this book offered the perfect next step in reading about fashion and dress reform ideas from that period as well as my current thoughts about clothing and clothing production. While artists today like Andrea Zittel are exploring changing clothing habits with the Smock Shop, reading essays from 1850-1930 allow one some space from which to consider what she is doing, and form one's own ideas about fashion, clothing and the forces surrounding it all. While this book covers a period on the brink and within the Industrial Revolution, today from the other side it seems we're in need of another dose of dress reform and rebellion against fashion, particularly when companies like the GAP use child slaves to make clothes today still.

Selections from the cards:
2- " appears to be not just a consequence of capitalism, but one of the factors that contributed to its rise."
3- "The historical avant-garde would appropriate dress design as a privileged field in which the artist could overstep the limits of 'pure' art and act directly on daily life."
4- Romanticism- first important reaction against fashion
-Louis Magron on the true Romantic, "...He does not acquiesce to an accepted fashion, he creates his own. Instead of resembling everyone else, he aspires to be himself."
5- William Morris, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
8- Greek dress- hanging of garments from the shoulders
19- Kandinsky, dress for Gabrielle Munter
44- giberna portatutto- bag attached to a belt
45- Productivists- "utility the only valid criterion that could give legitimacy to artistic activity"
-"'pure' art- no social utility, considered unacceptable"
-1921, Nokolai Tarabukin, "The last painting has been painted."
-Rodchenko- "constructive life is the art of the future. Art that fails to become a part of life will be catalogued in the museum of archaeological antiquities."
-Varvara Stepanova "our task is to find ourselves a place in life"
46- Aleksei Filippov, "artists in varying ways have merely depicted the world but their task is to change it."
48- Tatlin- constructed dress
49- color- chosen for the ability to conceal dirt
50- modular concept for clothes
61- Suprematist dress
67- Ramon Gomez de la Serna- poem on dresses
94- archaeology
96- George H. Darwin's Development in Dress
100- pockets
102- "why do we black and polish our boots?"
103- "patent-leather is an imitation of common blacking"
111- Oscar Wilde- Slaves of Fashion
113- Oscar Wilde- Woman's Dress
-(high heels) "...but what I object to is that the height should be given to the heel only and not to the sole of the foot also."
-warmth, material made of
116- "Ruins, again, may be picturesque, but beautiful they never can be, because their lives are meaningless."
118- "There is a divine economy about beauty; it gives us just what is needful and no more, whereas ugliness is always extravagant..."
119- "...every right article of apparel belongs equally to both sexes, and there is absolutely no such things as a definitely feminine garment."
122- Josef Hoffman- original vs. en masse
123- "One can recognize someone from far away by their personal way of walking or by their movements...In the same way, we would like an element of dress and the way in which dress is worn to be as familiar as the elements mentioned above so that we can recognize it as being in accord with the wearer's character."
131- Henry Van De Velde- visible seams
-"Everything we do to express our personality will strengthen the units of force that we represent, which will then converge to elevate the level of community life as a result of our individual efforts."
144- Friedrich Deneken- seams "make use of them as natural decorative elements"
152- Lilly Reich "Clothes are utilitarian objects and not works of art."
155- Giacomo Balla- Male Futurist Dress A Manifesto
158- no black and yellow
170- Futurist Italian tie- metal
184- Sonia Delaunay- Cezanne- "In an attempt to create volume, he enlarged his strokes of color and destroyed the outline of the object, the drawing. He began to destroy outlines, just as that the Impressionists had destroyed color and it is through him that dependence on academic rules finally disappeared."
-Matisse- inspiration
185- Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay- "Geometric patterns will never become old-fashioned, simply because they have never been fashionable."
186- Sonia Delaunay, "Rather than adapting dresses to the way we walk, we have had to adapt our gait to the dresses, which is absurd."
-"ideas shouldn't be taken from the past"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 3-18, 2008

Ed Ruscha and Photography
Sylvia Wolf
10 cards

I saw Ed Ruscha 8 years ago at the Hirshorn where he gave a performance talk. I was intrigued by this man who spoke of Os and he definitely made me go, "huh?" The Believer interview a few years ago prompted me think about his use of words in new terms. Then luckily a series of his parking lots photographs this winter propelled me headlong into my new found fascination with his work and online talks (here and here) and serendipitously an exhibition of his photographs and books at the Art Institute. This is the catalogue for the exhibition, and a publication that explores a definitive and fascinating part of the artist's career. Sylvia Wolf takes great care in exploring this aspect of Ruscha's work. Ed Ruscha early on was interested in collage, adding yet one more layer to his brilliance.

Selections from the cards:
14- stamp collection
18 and 19- 2 early photographs
21- collage
25-Kurt Schwitters
24- Ross the rooster
25- "Distressing the print gave it added presence, as did pairing it with another like image."
45- photograph with the word WAR
48 and 49- wigs in windows
53- refrigerator photo
55- Yashica camera- "with a twin-lens reflex camera, there is an element of distance that makes taking pictures a private experience- detached from direct eye contact with a subject."
60- (office sign- Zurich) "The names of individuals and businesses etched in metal suggested a permanence of information, unlike the ever-changing plastic signage he knew from Los Angeles."
69- ER on not speaking a foreign language- "...tried to figure out what they meant, based on pure visual analysis."
-French affichistes
70- Cannes
78- The Artist's Shoes
79- "I was making observations but occasionally I got something beyond observation, where I might have uncovered something that I could use later on."
85- El Greco, View and Plan of Toledo, c. 1610
"I had this notion that maybe I could take some pictures of Toledo and somehow, at some point in the future, I could look back and say, 'Look at this. It's the same as it was in El Greco's time."
87- R. A. Bertilli, Continuous Profile of Mussolini, 1933
89- "[Europe] added the weight of history to the whole picture...When I got back, I had more inspiration for American culture."
95- " springs directly from life, with all its anguish.."
111- Duchamp's retrospective
115- Wallace Berman's Semina
-Rejected ad
122- reaction from gas station attendants
128- California- ER: " has to do with a collage in your mind of what this place is all about."
129- Some Los Angeles Apartments- "not the ideal home ownership that was the American dream"
144- Thirty four parking lots ER: "Those patterns and their abstract design quality mean nothing to me. I'll tell you what is more interesting: the oil droppings on the ground."
-"sociological approach to the urban landscape"
163- "The affluence and decay, opportunity and waste reflected in some of Ruscha's books and photographic worlds of the mid- to late 60s is characteristic of a volatile time in American history."
-"By singling out a word in his art, Ruscha makes its meaning ambiguous and invites a broad range of interpretations."
164- Records
-his collection of records- ER: "I wanted to chop a little piece of of my life and put it in a book."
169- Bernd and Hilla Becher
180- Mason Williams, "Creativity was a lifestyle, not something that was a separate activity, linked to any institution or movement."
184- 1970, installation Venice Biennale, Chocolate Room
187- (his books becoming familiar by 1972) "with the first one, people did not know what I was up to. There was genuine doubt in their minds. I liked that, the idea of the question mark..."
190- 5 Girlfriends ER: "going back and retracing steps that you went through as a person...part of a mapping idea."
194- materials
204- ER: "Excuses are what create art for me. I sometimes pick a random subject to make art. It doesn't have to be riveted to my soul as some valuable things. Sometimes it can be something ridiculous, and a lot of time it is."
240- collecting aerial photographs of LA
241- 5 photographs, edges of books, 2001
-"Photography is the medium best-suited to record the present, which, in the end, may be its allure for Ruscha."
-"Ruscha's curiosity about everything, "not just the interesting parts" is what drives him to seek inspiration in both high and low culture"

June 3-6, 2008

The Existential/Activist Painter
The Example of Leon Golub
Donald Kuspit
1986, paperback
3 cards (due to underlining in my own copy)

The moment I saw this book at Book Trader in New Haven I knew I needed it. There had been a session at CAA about Golub and I had seen a Golub painting at the MFA in Boston (that made me recoil but also rejoice in that recoiling) and the book seemed to offer the perfect next step. A year or so later I finally picked it up again and despite the pretentious sounding title and the at times dense phrasing, Kuspit succeeds in identifying and tracing the ways in which Golub's paintings operate. He reveals but does not oversimplify. With all that continues in the world today in terms of abuse of power and human rights violations the world needs more painters in the vein of Golub and more people need to see Golub's paintings.

Smattering of notes/underlining
-opening Adorno quotes from Aesthetic Theory
4- "the brilliance of Golub's art is that it makes them horrifically explicitly, overwhelming, until they seem to touch us so directly that we violently react"
-physical surface- necessarily brutal
7- Barthes
18- "when it is realistic to think that man may end his own history"
20- "But in Golub's usage the classical image of man proclaims the tragic nature of modern man"
41- "I tend to think that the most important thing about ancient art for Golub is that it has to be excavated, and once unburied exists only in devastated form- physically wrecked as well as spiritually meaningless in the contemporary world."
46- "Golub's man is especially tragic because he knows his failure"
60- skulls and Chicago artists
104- Photography has made such appearances far from novel, indeed all too commonplace, and one of Golub's artistic problems is to get rid of this sense of the banality of evil. He attacks the issue by showing the power principle behind evil."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 13 - 16, 2008

Rock My World
Recent Art and the Memory of Rock 'n' Roll
Exhibition catalogue, CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
2002, hardcover
9 cards

Finding this book was almost as good as any rock 'n' roll song about relationships. It's what you know but it takes someone else's words to understand the situation or see your thoughts from another angle. Memory and rock 'n' roll, what a brilliant topic for an exhibition! It also included works by Jeremy Deller, Mungo Thomson and Dario Robleto, all artists whose work I've been fascinated by in the past year. Hurrah for used book stores and treasures like this that you only find through browsing.

Select passages from cards:
Untimely Meditations by Ralph Rugoff
10- discusses these works by artists being "work produced at a moment when rock itself has become historical."
-Jon Savage, current pop music is swimming "in the loop of serial pasts."
-"any rock record from the last 50 years can sound as contemporary as one produced last week. ... To some extent, contemporary art finds itself in a similar situation."
12 -perspective of the fan
-"As a historical witness, of course, the fan is suspect..."
19- Dario Robleto, Your Moonlight is in Danger of Shining For No One- use of glass from the first nuclear test explosion.
22-23 Mungo Thomson
26- (discussing Even Holloway's work) Nietzche, "When you look into an abyss the abyss also looks into you."
27- "How do we proceed when faced with a history that refuses to move forward?"
-"How can we assess the meaning of rock 'n' roll at a moment when cultural rebellion is instantly commodified..."
-"when challenging alternative rock now frequently breaks not on commercial radio, but on television commercials." [this was written in 2002! so, unfortunately, prophetic for today!]
-"these artists remind us why the meaning of a rock song cannot be found in its lyrics or in an analysis of its musical forms. Instead its meanings lies in a constellation of circumstances: the situation in which it appears, its associations with the past and also the ways it is used and transformed by its audiences and then returned to the world in different forms."
[this is totally why the 33 1/3 books can be so great.]
28- "It unearths meanings buried or hidden beneath the ruins of prior interpretations. In the process, it asks us how we can approach the past without either dismissing it or idealizing it- without reiterating the myths that can make the present seem meaningless by comparison."
-"only through creative encounter with the past that we can arrive at an accounting of the unrealized possibilities of the present."

Time Out of Mind by Ann Powers
34- (The Strokes) "Rock like this reminds us that the young can repeat the past without getting stuck; history is just a thrift store bargain to them."
-"Davis defines nostalgia as memory without pain"
-radical nostalgia
35- "It's basically what happens at every concert. ... What makes a fan sing along at top volume with a song that meant the world to her at 17..."
"-"Music's original meaning comes from its movement through time without narrative, a movement that seems to defy the linear unfolding of normal events."
36- "...the nostalgia of rock 'n' roll is more like the loss of memory that afflicts the elderly. Except that rock's dementia is voluntary, as least as first. It's not a form of preserving, it's a way of losing your mind."
-"Art that takes on the subject of rock 'n' roll faces a predicament similar to rock culture's own attempt to preserve the unpreservable, to defeat time."
37- "Listening to rock entails both reaching out and reaching in..."

Mutations by Matthew Higgs
"It makes us believe, once again, that rock 'n' roll can never die, because it never stops long enough to be done."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 7, 2008

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Modern Library collection of essays, paperback
3 cards

Emerson covers a lot of ground and in this essay he discusses art and published in 1841. Here too he writes with wide-reaching impact. Even the last lines I've included capture what Pop art exposed.

Select lines:
275- "But the artist must employ the symbols in use in his day and nation to convey his enlarged sense to his fellow-men. Thus the new in art is always formed out of the old."
-"Thus, historically viewed, it has been the office of art to educate the perception of beauty. We are immersed in beauty, but our eyes have no clear vision."
276- "The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety. Until one thing comes out from the connection of things, there can be enjoyment, contemplation, but no thought. Our happiness and unhappiness and unproductive."
-"The power to detach and to magnify by detaching is the essence of rhetoric in the hands of the orator and the poet."
-"The power depends on the depth of the artist's insight of the object he contemplates."
277- "Painting seems to be to the eye what dancing is to the limbs."
278- "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."
-(visiting the Vatican one can forget) "they had their origin from thoughts and laws in his own breast"
279- (Naples) "There I saw that nothing was changed with me but the place...made all that traveling ridiculous as a treadmill."
-"All great actions have been simple, and all great pictures are."
280- "But true art is never fixed, but always flowing."
282- "...instinct to find beauty and holiness in new and necessary facts, in the field and the road-side, in the shop and mill..."

June 5, 2008

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Modern Library essays edition, paperback
5 cards

This is the next essay for my reading group. Emerson of course has brilliant insights into friendship even though in a sense he seems to unravel them a bit on page 212. For those in search of dreams and fables, armed with sublime hope.

Select lines:

201- "The world uncertain comes and goes, the lover rooted stays."

-"We have a great deal more kindness that is ever spoken."

202-203- "Let the soul be assured that somewhere in the universe it should rejoin its friend and it would be content and cheerful along for a thousand years."

203- "My friends have come to me unsought."

"A new person is to me a great event and hinders me from sleep."

204- "Shall I not be as real as the things I see?"

205- "Thus every man passes his life in the search after friendship and if he should record his true sentiment, he might write a letter like this to each new candidate for his love..."

207- truth and thinking aloud

209- "It should never fall into something usual and settled, but should be alert and inventive and add rhyme and reason to what was drudgery."

-"Two may talk and one may hear, but three cannot take part in a conversation of the most sincere and searching sort."

-"an absolute running of two souls into one."

210- "Among those who enjoy his thought he will regain his tongue."

-"Friendship requires that rare mean betwixt likeness and unlikeness..."

-"Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo."

-"Are you the friend of your friend's buttons, or of his thought?"

211- "The hues of the opal, the light of the diamond, are not to be seen if the eye is too near. To my friend I write a letter and from him I receive a letter."

-"We must be our own before we can be another's"

-"... the only way to have a friend is to be one."

212- "We walk along in the world. Friends such as we desire are dreams and fables. But a sublime hope cheers ever the faithful heart....souls are not acting, enduring and daring, which can love us an we can love."

-"By persisting in your path, though you forfeit the little you gain the great."

213- "I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can fine them, but I seldom use them."
-"I will receive from them not what they have but what they are."
-"We will meet as though we met not and part as though we parted not."
214- "It is thought a disgrace to love unrequited. but the great will see that true love cannot be unrequited."
"The essence of friendship is entireness..."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

May 31 - June 6, 2008

Out of Sheer Rage Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence
Geoff Dyer
1997, hardcover
25 cards

The first book I read by Geoff Dyer was Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It. While the title sold me immediately I loved his discussion and reflection upon the train station in Detroit as a ruin. Next I read The Ongoing Moment about photography (which I should probably re-read) where Dyer makes interesting connections in photography. Photography is actually part of Out of Sheer Rage and perhaps it shows how Dyer wrote this later book about photography as much as he shares the process of writing (and not writing) this unique and brilliant book about (and not about) D. H. Lawrence. Out of Sheer Rage came to my attention through the blog, with hidden noise through two posts, this one and this one. It was this quote from Dyer's discussion of islands via Lawrence compelled me to track down this book: "Me neither. All you can think of when you are on a small island is the impossibility of leaving when you want to, either because the island you are on is too big and you want to go to a smaller one or because the island is too small and you want to go to a bigger one.”

A few selected notes (there are many, many more treasures within these covers):
-"It must all be considered as though spoken by a character in a novel." Roland Barthes
1- "Conceived as a distraction, it immediately took on the distracted character of that from which it was intended to be a distraction, namely myself."
2- "the writer who had made me want to become a writer. ... I wanted to read him with a purpose."
-"All over the world people are taking notes as a way of postponing, putting off and standing in for."
4- "...books, if they need to be written, will always find their moment."
5- "I could live anywhere, all I had to do was choose but it was impossible to choose- because I could live anywhere. There were no constraints on me and because of this it was impossible to choose."
12- D. H. Lawrence, "Where does one want to live?"
14- "I love the idea of speaking foreign languages. I hate doing anything in life that requires an effort."
16- The Complete Poems
18-19- that fabulous island quote
19- Rilke's letters
23- "Even writing a postcard required more concentration than I could muster."
28- "...which, on reflection, is what all philosophical thought comes down to anyway: how to bear the awful weight of your head."
31- Campidoglio- "It's a perfect square. And do you know why it's a perfect square?" "No. Why?" "Because it's not."
33- Nietzsche
34- "I was more interested in photographs of Lawrence than in the books he wrote."
-Michelet and Barthes
35- album and captions idea
-"I did not know what Lawrence looked like."
-Lawrence: "I hate photographs and things of myself, which are never me, and I wonder all the time who it can be."
38- Lawrence: "What do I care for first or last editions? To me, no book has a date, no book has a binding."
40- getting a camera
-"I am a camera"
41- "An alphabet of aerials stretched away over the roofs."
45- "To travel is to eat."
-"The sentence had ended, left, moved on, almost as soon as it had begun."
47- the sea
52- handshake origins
53- "Anything not overlooking something is to be looked down on."
55- people telling you will like something
57- "Opera begins in the market...stall holders have to convey the colour and taste of fruit in their voices."
-"His job was not to sell oregano but to fill the air with the sound of the scent."
59- "A common point of literary pilgrimage is that you often don't know which house you're meant to be visiting. In a sense it doesn't make any difference because it's very difficult to return home unless you have absolute proof that you've been to the right place. Hence the need, I conclude, for a plaque on the wall: to free us from doubt."
72- "Life is really no more than a search for a hot drink one likes."
76- "Museum installations always have a touch of death about them. Houses have to live; they cannot be embalmed."
77- Lawrence hating the town, the town honoring him
81- community and neighborhood
89- Rilke on Rodin
90- Rilke: "For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been given to us, the ultimate final problem and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation."
94- Goya
-early photograph portraits "people focused their lives 'in the moment rather than hurrying past it.'"
97- photographs and captions
100- corduroy
102- "The best readings of art are art," said George Steiner
104- trace of the self- re-reading a book
107- "...because however much you are enjoying a book, however much you want it never to end, you are always eager for it to end."
109, 111- poems, letters
111- getting nearer to the person
122- "the novelists I like best are...not novelists at all: Nietzsche, the Goncourt brothers, Barthes, Fernando Pessoa, Ryszard Kapuscincki, Thomas Bernhard..."
126- "Life for people with children is crammed with obligations and duties to be fulfilled. Nothing is done for pleasure."
-"Most people don't want what they want: people want to be prevented, restricted."
129-130- hatred of England
133- "The trajectory of Lawrence's life was not to leave his origins behind but to go beyond them."
134-135-Nietzsche- Human All Too Human- " a book written for 'free spirits' who do not yet exist, whose path he is hoping to ease into the world, it is as if he is describing Lawrence's feelings; conversely, Lawrence, at this moment, is, as it were, reading Nietzsche.
-"But when do you return?"
136- Neruda- "He who returns has never left."
-Lawrence- "I feel I shall wander for the rest of my days. But I don't care."
137- Lawrence- last letter: "This place no good!"
-films and books and life
138- "there is no escaping the everyday. What Lawrence's life demonstrates so powerfully is that it actually takes a daily effort to be free."
-"freedom requires tenaciousness...Freedom is always precarious."
-Lawrence- "Freedom is a gift inside one's soul. You can't have it if it isn't in you."
139- "Catherine Carswell applauded Lawrence for the way 'he did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did.'"
140- Lawrence- "It is my destiny to wander."
-"A destiny is not something that awaits us, it is something we have to achieve in the midst of innumerable circumstantial impediments and detours."
-The Question of Geography by John Berger and Nella Bielski- "Each one of us comes into the world with her or his unique possibility which is like an aim, if you wish, almost like a law. The job of our lives is to become- day by day, year by year, more conscious of that aim so that it can at last be realised."
141- Rilke- "Basically it's none of our business how somebody manages to grow if only he does grow, if only we're on the trail of our own growth."
142- detour as a straight line
151- writers and painting
-Lawrence's paintings
152- "He knew how to do nothing. He could just sit and be perfectly content."
153- "That's what I'm doing, shaking my fist at the world."
154- doughnuts
156- Lawrence's temper
157- Lawrence: "Damn the world anyhow. And I hate 'understanding' people and I hate more still to be understood. ..."
161- typewriter ribbon
168- "there is no love or life without despair of life"
170- regret, breakdowns
204- "Life is bearable even when it's unbearable: that is what is so terrible, that is the unbearable thing about it."
205- "To be interested in something is to be involved in what is essentially a stressful relationship with that thing, to suffer anxiety on its behalf."
207- "Lawrence said that one sheds one's sickness in books..."
208- driving vs. flying
211- revisiting a place
222- "Clouds were stampeding across the sky."
225- Lawrence- travel- "What is it, makes one want to go anyway? Why can't one sit still? Why does one create such discomfort from oneself!"
226- Had we not seen and done all these things we would not be the people are are."
-"My greatest urge in life is to do nothing."
230- "Should anyone flatter us by asking what we are looking for, what we are searching for, then we think immediately, almost instinctively in vase terms- God, fulfillment, love- but our lives are actually made up of lots of tiny searches..."
231- "Add them together and these little things make up an epic quest, more than enough for one lifetime."
231-232-"One way or another we all have to write our studies of D.H. Lawrence. Even if they will never be published, even if we will never complete them, even if all we are left with after years and years of effort is an unfinished, unfinishable records of how we failed to live up to our own earlier ambitions, still we all have to try to make some progress with our books about D. H. Lawrence."

May 26 - 31, 2008

Famous for Fifteen Minutes
My Years with Andy Warhol
By Ultra Violet
1998, hardcover
9 cards

I picked up this book about Warhol, written by one of his Superstars Ultra Violet. Partly about Warhol and partly about Ultra Violet's own life an experiences, a quote at the beginning points out that all conversations are reconstructed, warning one to not take some of the quotations at their word. While interesting in parts, Ultra Violet was out for publicity, in fast pursuit of the media, and the name dropping gets a bit overwhelming at times. She knew (and dated) lots of people including Dali and Ed Ruscha and while she has some great insights, at other times it seems like she's trying to hard to make sweeping statements about the time.

1- "In death, as in life, Warhol deals in contradictions."
3- "I met the King of Pop years ago. His name was Marcel Duchamp. To me, Andy was the Queen of Pop."
5- (Warhol) "He changed the way we look at the world, arguably the way we look at ourselves."
6- "The primary creation of Warhol was Andy Warhol himself."
7- "Magic was a word Andy gargled with for hours."
8- gimlet eye
-"There is no taking of Polaroids in heaven: the ineffable light precludes it."
11- "Here in the Factory the mirrors have come out of their frames and merged into a total environment of silvery reflections and refractions."
12- "...a wonderland where you step in and out of yourself, where memory and fantasy race into each other at full tilt."
-"Maybe what you're creating is artifact not art."
13- "Mirrors- they have the most memories. I am quoting John Graham."
18- Billy Name- "trained in the spirit of Black Mountain. 'All of us carried Rimbaud under our arms.'"
28- doughnuts
31-33- screening of Blow Job
42- worked in a five and dime store
89- luncheonette
90- "In the Factory, Andy always works with loud rock music on. In rock, repetition is the leitmotif. ... the drum, a replica of the heartbeat."
92- "But for Warhol, photography is not just a helping hand. It is a replacement of the chosen object. The photograph becomes the painting. ... no original painting; from the start, there are multiples."
95- "It amazes me that a country as liberal as the United States allows itself to take on the burden of capital punishment."
96- Red Race Riot- "the repetition produces an action painting."
97- subliminal art- "takes objects people are fascinated by and turns them into art."
98- quadruple impact
-"John Cage uses graffiti sounds in his pieces and Merce Cunningham uses everyday noise in his dances."
102- "The Velvet Underground plays so loud you never hear the music."
103- Nico- "She looks like a girl- but when she sings, it's hard to be sure of her sex."
-"The decibels are so deafening that talking is out of the question. That's why Andy loves it so much."
104- "The Velvet Underground is going with music what Andy is doing with images. They repeat and repeat and repeat the same word or phrase until someone screams out, 'Shut up!'"
105- "Minimal music echoes minimal art."
110- Empire "It is a picture postcard of the building transferred to the screen."
125- Duchamp
John Chamberlain- orange corduroy pants
142- Max's Kansas City
144- Brasserie in the Seagram Building
198- "The moon is no cheap date."
205- "Since the sixties people workshop the rock singer more than the song and the dancer more than the dance, everyone starts at the beaming energy of Edie..."
214- Ed Ruscha
221- Polaroid camera
254- "And his camera is still an integral part of his clothing."
273- Fiesta ware

Friday, June 6, 2008

May 26 2008

A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol
Text by David Dalton
Photographs by Dave McCabe
2003, hardcover
4 cards

This book seemed interesting when I first encountered it a few years ago. In spending more time with it this time around I realized the photographs it contains were orginally commissioned by Andy Warhol. Dave McCabe took these photographs, to document Warhol's life for a year. Warhol never published these photos but, as Dalton deftly explains, these photographs seem to have played an important role in Warhol's formation of his public personality in the 1960s. This is a fascinating book which seems to contain some secrets within it still.

Some excerpts:
7 "By 1964 he was developing his new! improved! Andy."
-"I think he studies these photographs and used them to form the image he wanted the world to see."
14- Andy and the Glass House
18-21- Andy in the guest house with David Whitney- Richard Lippold sculpture
39- Andy and Dali- Andy petrified
49- movies- social climbing
-Soap Opera
63- Andy and Bob Rauschenberg playing Monopoly
108- Jim Rosenquist's F-111
109- JR: "I think art is about identifying a condition"
138- "To walk down the street with Andy was an exhilarating experience. It was as if you'd just been handed a pair of special glasses that allowed you to see a secret and compelling world..."
-"Reality in the USA was truly hallucinatory."
-"Everything ins the USA was designed to be looked at..."
-"...Andy let you see the world through eyes you'd not used yet."
139-143- diner!
150- "The Supremes were there chaperoned by their mothers."
174- dancing at openings
182- Jonas Mekas
188- Happenings
152- silkscreen never made
206- "The famous were America's royalty."
217- Billy Name- dj- Motown

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May 25 - 26, 2008

Camera Lucida
Roland Barthes
1981, paperback
15 cards

Roland Barthes is a genuine voice who contributed amazing tracts about life and things living produces. Here he discusses photography, though delving deep, into how it means through a personal photograph where he knows his mother. The best part is this photograph is never reproduced, in part, because it would not mean in the same way for other viewers. This is a landmark book that I needed to reread and probably could read 100 more times, finding something new and valuable with each reading.

Selected notes/passages:
Reproduction of a Polaroid photograph at the beginning
3- "I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor."
4- "what the photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially."
6- "photographs are signs which don't take, which turn"
-"the referent adheres"
9- "to do, to undergo, to look"
-"(Polaroid? Fun, but disappointing, except when a great photographer is involved.)"
15- death
-"cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing"
26- studium
27- punctum
30- "Photography has the same relation to History that the biographeme has to biography."
-"the ghost of paintings"
38- "when it is pensive, when it thinks."
40- Baudelaire
42- a detail
45- "less Proustian"
47- "The photographer's 'second sight' does not consist in "seeing" but in being there"
51- "The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance."
53- remembering the punctum
-Kafka: "We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes."
63- Proust
64- history
65- "History is hysterical: it is constituted only if we consider it, only if we look at it- and in order to look at it, we must be excluded from it."
70- Proust
71- Mallarme
73- Nietzsche
76- "Painting can feign reality without having seen it."
-"in Photography I can never deny that the thing has been there"
80- Sontag
81- "A sort of umbilical cord links the body of the photographed thing to my gaze..."
- "For me, color is an artifice, a cosmetic"
84- co-presence
85- "what has been"
87- "language is, by nature, fictional"
89- time
91- "actually blocks memory, quickly becomes a counter-memory"
-"A paradox: the same century invented History and Photography."
94- "love-as-treasure"
97- private reading
100- "Such is the Photograph: it cannot say what it lets us see."
102- "no one is ever anything but the copy of a copy, real or mental"
-"Ultimately a photograph looks like anyone except the person it represents."
103- "the photograph makes appear what we never see in the real face"
110- provincial photographer