shepquest

MY BOOKS ABOUT JEAN SHEPHERD

SHEP'S ARMY: BUMMERS, BLISTERS, AND BOONDOGGLES, Opus Books. Nearly three dozen of Shepherd's army stories never before in print introduced and transcribed. Foreword by Keith Olbermann. (published August 2013)

EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD, Applause Books (published March, 2005)

Archives by Subject

ARTSY BOOKS—MY OPUS

 (Above is one of my suggestions for the cover art of my opus.

Each image represents an illustrated essay therein.)

My ARTSY FARTSY book manuscript, consisting of scores of illustrated essays on many of my unique and sometimes hard to believe quests/encounters with the fine arts, has nearly come to an end—I’ve tried whatever avenues I can to find a publisher. My query letter and sample are now in the hands of what may be my last best chance—a publisher who focuses on what I see as the very nature of Artsy Fartsy. I await a response.

In the meantime I carry on, and the New York Times book review of September 6, 2020, covering its last inside page, has a 12-part cartoon by Grant Snider titled “NAMES for my BOOK.” I reproduce the final section below.

Important note—don’t be deceived. When I saw Snider’s work,

in my delight, with black pen, I added to it:

“ARTSY FARTSY.”

I ordered his cartoon book about books:

I’ve only recently discovered Grant Snider and his cartoon works.  Here’s what one of his websites says about him:

Grant Snider began drawing and writing before he knew what he was doing. Soon it was too late to stop. His work has appeared in The New York Times Book ReviewThe Kansas City StarThe Best American Comics 2013, and all across the internet.

Grant lives in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, daughter, and three sons. He has a day job as an orthodontist. You can often find him carrying a sketchbook, lost in his own thoughts. 

It appears to me that he and I dance

to the sounds of similar drums.

I reproduce a panel from another of his works’

(What could be more perfect?!):

*

And, by the way, maybe I should name my opus

QUESTS—A LIFE WITH ART.

eb

ARTSY – Literature & History

Two very different forms of stunned recognition hit me the morning of 8/27/2020—one regarding the philistine-like misuse of a powerful poetic metaphor, and the other a recognition of a profound historic tragedy. Both shocks, so different in ultimate importance. In no way suggesting any equivalence, merely noting that within a few pages and minutes of each other, they both gave me a whack on the side of the psyche.

*   *   *

LITERATURE

My interests in the arts—especially literature—are fairly widespread.

The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (10/27/1914-11/9/53) wrote a number of lyric, lovely, and powerful poems, including the emotional, obsessive one on the death of his father, “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” He wrote it in the form of a villanelle, that, in its rhymes and repeated lines (22 lines total), is indeed obsessive in feeling. (I’ve written a couple of obsessive villanelles myself.) “Do Not Go Gentle” begins:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

“Good night” and “Dying of the light” of course, are metaphors for death. Thus, it startled and highly offended me to encounter, in one of the first pages of the main section of the New York Times, a rude and obnoxious ad, suggesting some relationship between a poetic masterpiece and a new-and-improved floor lamp:

*   *   *

HISTORY

I have a meager knowledge and understanding of history.

At the end of World War II in Europe, I was not quite seven years old. I am somewhat aware of what Hitler did and that history has a way of repeating itself (or at least, sometimes rhyming—like some ironic, tragic poem).

Continuing my morning perusal of the Times, I encountered the book review of a biography of Hitler, reviewed by Jennifer Szalai. In her review she comments:

Hitler was what he was—the question became what the people around him were willing to do about it. The military commanders who voiced no objections to the Polish invasion balked when Hitler decided to go to war with the West, reassuring one another that they were determined to “put the brakes” on any disaster that was unfolding. But they were all intention and no action. “The final hope is that perhaps reason might prevail in the end,” one general confided to his wife.

*   *   *

LITERATURE & HISTORY—RHYME & UN/REASON

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

HAMILTON –The Film Seen

(Title page of the book of the musical.)

*

I’ve seen some videos of individual parts of “Hamilton.”

Including Lin-Manuel Miranda performing song at the White House:

On Youtube I’ve watched other parts including the choreographer’s description as to how his designed moves work in the musical. I’ve heard people discuss the musical and I’ve studied the artists’ book based on it. I’ve discussed the short story writers’ and playwrights’ rule from Chekhov, that if a weapon appears in act one, it must be fired before final curtain—and I’ve discussed its use in “Hamilton.”

For all of the above I’ve posted my illustrated essays.

I’ve seen Youtube moderators’ critiques of the film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOlgSErlE6I    Perri Nemiroff-never saw or heard before seeing Disney+ You get worried when things are so hyped and you come at it so late like I am, but “Hamilton” met all my hopes and expectations. What a unique and high-energy way of telling this story…. Every single frame of this feels full. Wide shots of the stage are always busy with purpose and they’re also beautiful….I really can’t imagine a time—or maybe I’d rather not imagine a time—where we more desperately need “Hamilton” to be accessible to the widest possible viewership

*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjpf7Suy_EU       7/3/2020   Dan Murrell never saw or heard before seeing Disney+ …it is able to do so many different things incredibly well. It works first and foremost, yes, on the level of a great musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music and song tell the story so well, give the characters an earnestness and seriousness when it’s required, a playfulness when it’s required….It’s able to juggle those tones successfully and that’s one of the great things about this show. It also humanizes and modernizes the Founding Fathers and the creation of America.

*   *   *   *   *

All that and more. One might gather that I’m obsessed with

“Hamilton.” And now I’m seeing it complete and thinking about it for myself.

I want to luxuriate in its art and glories—

enjoying the mental and emotional pleasures of writing

and posting about it many times while I’m able. It’s summer–middle of the Covid 19 pandemic and I’m 82.

But how best understand and express what I see?

Live performances are shut down.

The film of it, originally due to open 15 months from now

has opened on cable TV but our provider doesn’t provide it.

Our Roku gadget is too ancient to receive it and my impression

is that a new one is too expensive for our pocket book.

I thought I’d try ebay–see if a DVD was being released soon and someone already had it for sale, offering it (legally or illegally?).  I saw what was probably an illegal copy. I rationalized that, as I’ve promoted “Hamilton” to such an extent on the blog, I’d expect that some readers of my blog would be convinced to spend money on legal cable viewings so that my peccadillo would be forgiven by the lords of universal ethics. We bought a copy and waited for its arrival but it never came. After we’d sent messages to the seller, ebay refunded our money.  Allison solved my problem–she bought a new Roku, set it up, paid for and opened Disney+ and there was “Hamilton,” ready to go!

I’ve now seen it with captions–and without, by trading some loss of understanding the words for being better able to luxuriate in the sound and visual. The continuous movement and songs/dialog and visual strength don’t stop, and it’s enthralling (for at least some of us Bergmanns). I love it. It’s a 21st century American opera. The fast-talk hip-hop opening scene is a kind of precis of what’s to come. (In the average play or story of any kind, one knows little or nothing at the beginning–it’s all new to be presented to us. But with our American history we know much, especially that Burr will kill Hamilton. So this opening gives us an experience of how we’ll see it play out.) And at the ending, after Hamilton is dead, we’re given a summing up of what’s to come after his death, including Hamilton himself (We’re happy to see him alive again!), with his wife, who for half a century onward will work to preserve and enhance his reputation–we’re not watching a chronological history, we’re experiencing an artifice, a symbol of that part of our American experience.

Non-Caucasians playing roles of well-known founders of our country (a sort of reverse view of whites in black-face.) seems odd, but doesn’t bother me—it suggests that the American experiment began and continues as a gathering/melding of race/culture/philosophies. A complex mix, a melting pot. We 21st century people can never totally understand our past–we can only begin to see it through our limited/fallible, present-day eyes. “Hamilton” is not historic reality–it’s not real–it expresses our reality in an artifice–it expresses some of our past with styles of theatrical/musical reference–casual lines from “South Pacific,” Shakespeare, Eminem, you name it.)  This concoction is a modern musical salmagundi, a kind of inter/cultural/racial marriage. Choose your intellectual verbal weapons and fire at will. “Hamilton,” is a fabricated, artifice–it tells its truths as a modern (might I say “Artsy Fartsy”?) metaphor.

*   *   *   *   *

For me, George III, is a delightfully cuckoo king making ironic points regarding the Revolution.

For me, the early section of Part 2 should be truncated because it dilutes dramatic effect.

For me, Jefferson, returning from France after our Revolution is a fop too much for me! For me, he confuses and undercuts the overall movement of the “Hamilton” story. For me, silly Jefferson distracts and diminishes–I say obliterate the little bugger.

*

Political reality song: “Be in the room where it happens.”

Hamilton commits adultery and is blackmailed by the woman’s husband.

Later, to avoid accusations of treason, he proves his innocence by proving adultery.

Hamilton pleads forgiveness from Eliza, his wife.

Anguish in Lin’s face–there are tears in my eyes.

Burr kills Hamilton.

*

Eliza, with her beauty and her singing is a star.

In death, Hamilton and Eliza are reunited.

Eliza and company sing: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

Lin, in your masterpiece, you tell his story.

*   *   *   *   *

Lin-Manuel Miranda talks “Hamilton” and Hip-Hop, Power and Playwriting .” September 16, 2016 at Harvard U.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TiHINIYGLA

“If the story is compelling we’ll go with you regardless of what the politics inherent are….I think the beginning of your work as an artist, I think it begins when you imbibe and you are able to critically say why you love something or why you don’t love something, why something doesn’t work for you. In doing so, you figure out your own tastes and you figure out what kind of work you want to make.” 

*   *   *   *   *

 

ARTSY—SUSAN SONTAG

Decades ago, the writings of Susan Sontag became important to my understanding of how to think and what to think about regarding the wild and wooly, artsy fartsy world of the 1960s.

In my paperback copy of Sontag’s Against Interpretation, a compilation of her various 1960s essays, I found my cut-out copy of a New York Times magazine article (10/13/2019) by A. O. Scott, one of their film critics—it is about the importance of Sontag, and begins:

I spent my adolescence in a terrible hurry to read all the books, see all the movies, listen to all the music, look at everything in all the museums.” (Seems a little bit like me and so many others.)

Recently, as I’ve encountered the mind of Wayne Koestenbaum (through his essays in his Book Figure it Out, and currently, his My 1980s, I’ve been captivated by his quirky ideas and ways with words. His essay, “Susan Sontag, Cosmophage,” reminded me of my interest in her. (She and he are certainly artsy fartsyists. In his first paragraph about her, he writes:

…Sontag gobbled up sensations genres, concepts. She swallowed political and aesthetic movements. She devoured roles: diplomat, filmmaker, scourge, novelist, gadfly, essayist, night owl, bibliophile, cineaste….”

She scolded and expanded and overturned and told us how to think (not “what” to think) about the arts—especially the quirky and sometimes outrageous stuff created in the 1960s. She was, as her first essay in the book is titled, “Against Interpretation”:

None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself,…We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art….

Sontag had written a strong/eloquent/emotional defense of Jack Smith’s film Flaming Creatures, an avant garde, out-of-focus overexposed (unintentional play on words here) extravaganza of near-naked people of all possible sexes that I’d seen (having had no idea what I was in for) promoted by Village Voice experimental film critic and founder of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, Jonas Mekas. In the last year or two I’d seen dozens of  experimental films at the various sites used by these film-makers–none of the films had much if any sexual nature about them. As I walked from the theater that early evening after the event, dazzled and bewildered, I thought, “The porno-police are gonna raid this place.” And sure enough, cop cars were pulling up. I recognized, coming toward  me, was Mekas, heading toward the theater. As we approached each other I said, “Watch out, the police have raided the place.” He replied, in words to the effect, “Might as well get it over with now.”

As I was not regularly employed in those heady and outrageous days (working on the beginnings of my first unpublished novel), I attended the trial, thinking it might be of artistic and intellectual interest. The judge refused to accept, for the defense, any of the celebrated witnesses in attendance such as poet Allen Ginsberg or others of his ilk and caliber—except for Sontag (because, the judge said, she’d published a piece on Flaming Creatures, and, I suppose, she was thus, an “expert” on it.) Sontag spoke in defense of the film, and although I don’t remember a specific word she said, I was gratified to have been within about fifteen feet of such a recognized intellectual as she testified. She probably echoed some of what she’d written, such as:

The only thing to be regretted about the close-ups of [censored–eb] is that they make it hard simply to talk about this remarkable film; one has to defend it. But in defending as well as talking about the film, I don’t want to make it seem less outrageous, less shocking than it is….Flaming Creatures is outrageous, and intends to be.

Flaming Creatures is that rare modern work of art. It is about joy and innocence. To be sure, this joy, this innocence is composed out of themes which are—by ordinary standards—perverse, decadent, at the least highly theatrical and artificial.

(Susan Sontag had a far more perspicacious

and accepting attitude toward the outrageous than I have.)

________________________________________________________________

EXCELSIOR!

If it had not been for Jean Shepherd, the nightly radio mentor of my youth, who enveloped and expanded my mind and perceptions, I would not be the questing (quixotic?) person that I am; I wouldn’t have written my only published books; I would not have made my shepquest blog and entered into my ever-expanding explorations of the world of art that has culminated in my varied interests–and that have resulted in my Artsy Fartsy.

(Poster photo: Fred W. McDarrah; banner: Jackie Lannin)

THANKS, SHEP!

_________________________________________________________

ARTSY Books Are Not Decoration Part 2 of 2

MY STUDY

This cavernous room (converted from our attached garage) contains multitudinous subjects related to my artsy interests.

Immediately upon entering—most of my books of poetry—

Whitman: “I hear America Singing.”

Poet Laureate Billy Collins: When I interviewed him for my book

he told me,“I had to get my Shepherd fix.”

 Charles Wright: American poet. I attended a reading by him

and, as I told him that my copy of his Black Zodiac was somewhere

in our boxes of books ready for a move, he signed a 3 X 5 paper

that I use as a bookmark in his books.

 Bill Knott: witty American poet with whom I had contact.

He sent me a bunch of his self-published titles

(all signed to me. I wish I could find reference as to how we got in contact.)

He had 1 poem published in The New Yorker,

& couple of late books commercially published

E. Cummings: I have first editions of most of his books.

Several books on sonnets and a variety of general poetry books.

*

Scores of my unpublished/a few published poems:

ARCADIAN COMMUTE

One of my 2 poems in Undertow, an authentic (!) poetry journal, (1997),

TABLOID TALE

One of my 2 poems from a contest for refrigerator poems

published in the 1997 Magnetic Poetry Book of Poetry

using only words from that company’s kit

consisting of over “100 magnetic nouns, verbs, adjectives” for combining

into “poetry” on your refrigerator door. Friggy poems in this book

have probably been read by more people than the poems of

any well-known poet you can think of—

the book, after decades, is still on bookstore shelves.

Sticklers for poetic consistency may note that in my poem

they left out the “r” from “lover.”

Ah, the life of a poet-manqué is a hard one,

Though 1997 appeared a good year for us.

*

Books of comic strips: “Peanuts,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” and “Mad”, etc.

*

Books and files on “Graphic Novels”:

Artists’ Books—scores of them plus a dozen books about them and anthologies

including Books of Hours, William Blake, etc.

Artists’ books I’ve made and files of my assorted writings—

creative writings and unpublished novels,

*

A large wall almost entirely devoted to Jean Shepherd.

Among much other stuff, all his books in first editions,

including some signed.

*

Various “foreign” novels.

Books about Spain (Granada, bull fighting, etc.)

Spain and I go way back—a sad, love/hate relationship,

Starting, in my early, innocent, teenage,

with my cousin Ray loaning me his copy of

Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, and continuing

through four tragic years married to a young woman from Granada, Spain.

Below, upper part of one of my Granada books.

*

Many bookshelves devoted to a rough chronological ordering of books

about art: Prehistoric (cave art, Cycladic, etc.)

Medieval, Renaissance, Pre-impressionist. Impressionist, Cezanne, modern.

*

A FEW OF MY FAVORITES AND ODDBALL BOOKS

IN A RATHER INEXPLICABLE LITTLE JUMBLE:

American lit: U. S. A. TRILOGY (Probably the great American novel

of the 20th century);

HENRY MILLER 14 books by/about. Including his TROPIC OF CANCER

that in 1960 I smuggled from Mexico City in the innards of my VW Bug.

Every time I read a grungy bit of it I felt as though I needed a shower.

Years later, reading his TROPIC OF CAPRICORN on the subway,

I laughed so much so loudly, that, in embarrassment, I had to stop.

RIDDLEY WALKER (Probably the greatest of dystopian novels), and so on.

Do iT! By Jerry Rubin. Sometime in 1970 I walk into the

St. Mark’s Place bookstore

and there in front on a table are two stacks of the book. One stack,

they’re all inscribed “Jerry” with some innocuous word.

The other stack, they’re all inscribed “Jerry” preceded by the F*** word—

I still have my copy with the F-word.

*

CHESS, POOL, JUGGLING, DANCE,

MUSIC–INCLUDING 16 BOOKS BY AND ABOUT BOB DYLAN–

(Don’t ask me what thy all have to say–at times I

don’t know what he has to say.)

*

HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE, MY MUSEUM CAREER

INCLUDING MY 12 ESSAYS PUBLISHED IN A

SCHOLARLY MUSEUM QUARTERLY, MY FULBRIGHT to Peru.

(Ah, the good ol’ days!)

*   *   *   *   *

 “Book–a written or printed work consisting of pages

glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.”

I hope some have found this excursion into my booksy life

almost as interesting as I have (joke!).

ARTSY—Books Are Not Decoration–Part 1 of 2

G.B.M. RIP

*

NOT DECORATION

*

“Does This Bookshelf Make Me Look Smart?”

by Amanda Hess, NYT May 4, 2020.

With the self-isolation these days (including TV interview participants) It’s been noted that many interviewees, home alone, set themselves up with a background that includes a bookshelf. I find this amusing and highly appropriate. (Books sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve.) Squinting, I try to see what sort of books the person has collected, but it’s usually impossible to read the titles.

The article describes a Twitter account, “Bookcase Credibility,” that reports on such now-frequent bookcase backgrounds with the tagline, “what you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you.”

(The article ends with reference to the fact that the interviewee is at home, without actual audience, and is only seen from the waist up. An interviewee on Good Morning America, “in front of a highly credible bookcase featuring an antique-style clock and a shimmering golden urn. He was not wearing pants.”)

A further pictorial, in the Times Book Review section of May 24, 2020, shows six people with their background bookshelves, a couple of their books are described, as seen below:

Complete Oxford English Dictionary!

My wife, Allison, has the “Compact Edition,”

which is complete but much reduced in type size.

(It comes with a very necessary magnifying glass.)

Note: When Allison is video-conferencing while working

at-the-office-from-home,  she adjusts her camera so that

her background view consists of one of our many bookcases.

*

Whenever I’m aware of an instance of “decorating” with books—such as arranged by color rather than by content–I groan with self-righteous indignation. Anyone with a speck of intelligent caring for books must arrange them in some sort of order related to their content, especially if, like Allison and I, they have over 7,000 of them.

Decoration (by color or otherwise) is good for some aspects of one’s environment, but not for something like books—that have their (soul) sole-and-important existence because of their mental nourishment. (My wife is a trained librarian, though neither she nor I would insist on a formal Dewey Decimal System.) We have jammed-full bookshelves everywhere except the bathroom. (Moisture is bad for books.) We are not totally rigid about it. Some of our books–like other aspects of most lives–are wedged in at seemingly oddball places.

*

BEDROOM

Allison’s British books dominate here—except for my Dylan Thomas volumes. Upper left are Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, pre-Victorian, Victorian books. (Allison is a Victorian scholar), followed by all the rest arranged strictly alphabetically by author. Recently, I’ve become interested in Virginia Woolf’s writing, and because her books happened to land on the lowest right-hand shelf below the bed where they’re difficult to access, Allison has permitted me to reposition the Woolfs in a small revolving side table next to my spot on the living room love seat (“Love” seat?! Who’s Afraid of Her Anyway?).

Under my bedroom bureau is the most compact and important group of books/media. My wife’s interest in Helen Keller began when, as a librarian, she came to work on the Helen Keller archives at the American Foundation for the Blind and became an authority on her. The author of a recent, massive biography of Helen Keller wrote this, as a paragraph by itself in the Acknowledgements to her book:

“To Allison M. Bergmann, formerly of the American Foundation for the Blind, my deepest appreciation for sharing her insightful analysis of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan and for becoming a mentor and friend during the arduous years when I was trying to understand Helen’s world.” On the shelf, also note a BBC VHS tape on Keller, that includes an interview of Allison, plus a photo of Helen Keller meeting Elanor Roosevelt.

*

COMPUTER ROOM /ALLISON’S STUDY

Here, floor-to-ceiling shelves hold most of our American-lit (pretty much alphabetical), Allison’s college library-science books, general books on politics, literature and reading, plus her books on dogs, bears, and other assorted endearing animals. As some of these categories are small, the arrangements are more casual.

Opposite is a tall bookshelf focused on biographies.

*

LIVING ROOM

One short shelf holds only books about Picasso. (For example, I have four different books about his “Guernica.”) Incidentally, I also insert where appropriate throughout my bookcases, storage boxes with paper files on the appropriate subject. Another case holds mainly books about Japanese woodblock prints including woodblock-printed books and netsuke. Another bookcase I devote to American artist John Marin and people associated with his work. (And, importantly, several loose-leaf binders containing printouts of my Artsy Fartsy book manuscript—so it’s prominent for my viewing pleasure, and easily encounterable for my heirs.)

Across the way, in a corner is my glass-fronted bookcase we refer to as “the first edition case,” with chronologically arranged first editions of Hemingway with books about his work. My first Hemingway book was probably the borrowed-from-my-cousin-Ray copy of his Death in the Afternoon, which got me started on Hemingway, Spain, and bull fighting. I returned the borrowed copy and got my own later edition of it, and eventually I bought a first edition with a torn/missing piece of the dust jacket (I describe my Hemingway collection as “a poor man’s firsts.”)

The Hemingways are followed by first editions of Norman Mailer with books about his work (See top 2 shelves of E. H & N. M.).

*

(continued in Part 2 of 2)

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ARTSY–QUIRKY WORDS AND IMAGES GALORE

Recent New York Times issues have presented

several visual and word displays.

Maybe they are a mollifying response to recent horrific events.

*   *   *   *   !  *   *   *   *

The simplest is the image and article of 5/31/20. At first I thought it was a mere quirky image of a bird, by Enzo Perez Labourdette, and I didn’t read the article. I took another look and realized the illustration consisted of about three dozen birds! The article itself, by Jennifer Ackerman, is a gentle paean to our feathered neighbors and is well-worth the reading. I related to it especially because, for a few weeks I’ve noted a family of cardinals flitting dozens of times in and out of a small tree in our backyard, probably building a nest. Now they’ve flown the coop.

*   *   *   *   !  *   *   *   *

This rather strange image caught my eye, and an early part of the article by Lauren DePino, went this way:

My partner and I had just sat down to happy hour.  The man next to him asked why we were in town. “I’m here from Los Angeles for work. I’m a hinge salesman,” Alan said. I elbowed him gently, but he went on. “Did you know that in North America, you’re never more than six feet from a hinge?”

The man shifted away from us, toward the Mets game on TV.

My partner does not sell hinges. He’s a cinematographer with a quirky sense of humor.

That had me hooked. I read on to the end—it is an unexpectedly delightful, warm and fuzzy metaphor for our lives right now and always.

*   *   *   *   !  *   *   *   *

Not long ago I read the Times book review, cut it out, and saved it. With the bird and hinge articles floating pleasantly through my mind and my birthday coming up, I asked for it as my only gift (I’m currently immersed in Siobhan Roberts’ difficult but quirky Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway—[note play on 2 meanings of “Curious”]).

Though never having heard of Wayne Koestenbaum, the Figure It Out author, I recognized that this book was indeed some sort of ultimate artsy fartsy fantasy. The reviewer, Parul Sehgal comments:

His work—rueful, cerebral, gloriously smutty—includes trance poetry and automatic writing. He has published sections of his notebooks, trippy discursions into his obsessions with opera…a novel about a hotel where the guest services include having your certainties shredded….—the goal is always to jigger logic and language free of its moorings.

*   *   *   *   !  *   *   *   *

I’m the kind of guy who likes his logic and language well-moored,

but I give the arts lots more wiggle room.

______________________________________________________________________

ARTSY Little Libraries

LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES

Instead of buying more books to add to our 7,000, we’ve been borrowing from the library. (These days of closures and shutdowns it’s shuttered.) Our local public library has a small bookcase full of free books for the public. Most, for the taste of my wife and I, are nothing we’d want to read. I assume they are deaccessioned by the library or are books donated by library patrons. (I hope I never encounter my Excelsior, You Fathead! there.)

The other day on TV we saw a short feature on “little free libraries.” Fascinating—that such exist, and that they have brought out such a multitude of little, inventive, architectural variations. (I love variations on a theme–the quirky, and those without quirk.)

I googled “Little Free Library” and got the website that begins:

If you want to start a Little Free Library book exchange, you’re in the right place. We’re excited to have you join the Little Free Library Sharing Network—now more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries strong!

I clicked on Google’s “images” and encountered hundreds of them!

Here are just the first couple a dozen.

(It’s worth clicking on to enlarge.)

ARTSY–Seeing Faces

The science section of the New York Times (May 5, 2020)

has a delightful illustrated story titled “You Look So Familiar,”

by Benedict Carey, with photos by George Etheredge.

These  eight photos are extraordinary–I wish I’d taken them!

(I’d like to post many more of these, but don’t want to disgruntle the copyright police.)

The short text of the article suggests that in our current “social distancing” circumstances, “…a socially hungry person is inclined to see faces where there are none.”  He also quotes Nicholas Epley a professor of behavior science suggesting that in these times, people are “…more likely to see signs of other people even where they might not exist, such as in everyday objects or scenes.”

I disagree. I believe that many people (such artists as Picasso, etc.–and even myself) have always had some sort of enhanced, natural, visual design tendency (not a psychological, “hungry” one) to see faces everywhere there is something in their line of sight that includes merely two dots or shapes side by side–or some other face-like feature. I have had this ability (?) to see (create) faces everywhere in my artsy fartsy meanderings for as long as I can remember.

A prominent example of my seeing faces is when, several decades ago, I noted that cardboard easels (for supporting small ads on a counter, etc.) appeared to me as though the cut open and folded down support seemed to be a mouth.

My ARTSY post on this blog of April 10, 2017 describes and illustrates my “easel faces,” created by drawing with colored felt-tip markers on blank cardboard easels. I showed my faces to Bergdorf Goodman’s art director on Fifth Avenue & 57th Street and he bought and displayed them for two months as background for a special display of fancy shoes for sale.

Some of my easel-faces I photographed in my back yard.

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MONTHLY ARCHIVES

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