Thursday, August 23, 2012

White - unto the White Creator -

The Time magazine images at

http://lightbox.time.com/2012/08/23/the-convention-draws-near-the-romney-ryan-road-trip-to-the-party-in-tampa

show the current Republican candidates for President and Vice President campaigning and fund-raising in New England and Long Island. One hundred percent of the people in every photograph are white.

But in one of the photographs (by Lauren Fleishman) the personnel have become invisible. Their traces exist only outside the image frame. A moment prior to the image's time, something human, perhaps even something unwhite, created its composition and then removed itself. Alone before the composition now, we see a still life of an airplane's tray table in repose. Resting upon it are a plastic plate in green and yellow imitation wicker, a white napkin on which rests a single chocolate chip cookie, and a transparent plastic cup of milk. As the beloved hymn of the party of the War on Christmas says,

All is calm, all is bright.

Like a tag on a toe in a morgue, a caption informs us that the cookie is still warm. When old age shall this generation waste, it will remain.

Malevich, just think how much greater an artist you might have been if you had only owned a dacha in East Hampton!


Sources: Emily Dickinson, "Publication is the auction" (Fr788) and Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition: White on White. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Area (adv.)

The paper on which George worked had one policy. It strove to mention by name in each issue, as many as possible of the inhabitants of the village. Like an excited dog, George Willard ran here and there, noting on his pad of paper who had gone on business to the county seat or had returned from a visit to a neighboring village. All day he wrote little facts upon the pad. "A. P. Wringlet has received a shipment of straw hats. Ed Byerbaum and Tom Marshall were in Cleveland Friday. Uncle Tom Sinnings is building a new barn on his place on the Valley Road."
          Sherwood Anderson, "The Thinker," in Winesburg, Ohio (1919)

In small American newspapers during the twentieth century, little facts like George's would be changed into narratives by complementation with headlines. Typically, a headline will create a sense of narrative by implying an answer to at least one of journalism's standard queries.

Area Man Has Interesting Hobby

Who? You know: man. Where? You know: area. In rewrite, the abstracted record of an event has become the promise of a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Furthermore, the story will name the man, and while it's at it it will name his hobby too.

But "area" is a word that never needed a name. "Area" has already and forever included all of us – not just the man with the hobby but everyone who can read a newspaper's mastheaded name (The Winesburg Eagle), because everyone under the shelter of (for instance) this eagle's wings has been given to believe he has always known where he is, and who and how and why. "Area," the noun, is a word that first enters our vocabulary through the inner ear, where the sense of balance makes us know ourselves to be at home upon firm earth. But after this particular noun has pervaded all of the ear and set to work modifying the sounds there, it begins to function as an adverb. Its grammar communicates a mode which once changed a man, for the brief instant it took to read his name, to this man. This man became one of the the marks left on George Willard's scrap of newsprint (boldly, ephemerally – take your pick of any adverb ending in -ly) to implore the passing tribute of a sigh.

That wasn't enough to hold a reader's interest, of course. At the end of his book, George himself boarded a train and rode out of the Eagle's range, his head filling with an idea of vanishing people doing vanishing things: "Butch Wheeler the lamp lighter of Winesburg hurrying through the streets on a summer evening and holding a torch in his hand, Helen White standing by a window in the Winesburg post office and putting a stamp on an envelope."  By now, George's scraps of newsprint have vanished too. A different kind of newspaper, The Onion, now transmits packets of information about events lacking who or why, and in those stories "area" is a word that can be understood only as an objet d'art.

Area Panty Lined


With narrative and its illusions gone, nothing remains but a decontextualized, defamiliarized word: panty, odd retroconversion of an adjective to a noun. But that gives the grammar its own narrative happy ending, doesn't it? After all, the silence surrounding panty is as much fun to hear as any word The Winesburg Eagle could ever print. In Winesburg, Ohio, says newsprint history, there once was a prose factory that manufactured garrulous sincerity out of short declarative sentences. But at the same instant, just two states to the east, there lived a doctor who noticed one rainy morning that a red wheelbarrow had begun automatically and inexhaustibly and wonderfully to fill itself with readable silence. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know


1/2 doz.

is the title of my new photochapbook. It's available free from the Issuu bookshelf at the bottom of your screen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A morse of resin

Notice: this Jonathan Morse is not the one who wrote at http://jonathan-morse.com/blog on June 22, 1911:
business leaders believe their message is suited to inform a targeted audience of the product/service available.  many businesses restrict input and practice a fortress-like policy.  sadly, their message likely does not resinate with many in the audience.  in contrast, inviting and welcoming open dialogue with practiced listening holds the potential for tuned messaging, higher penetration and rewarding conversion.

Swagger

L. Paul Bremer III, who spent the Bush administration bringing disaster to Iraq, is now self-employed as a landscape painter in Vermont. At

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/08/02/the_watercolor_paintings_of_paul_bremer

you can find an illustrated article about his oeuvre. The man is every bit as good at being an artist as he was at being a proconsul. But he's confident enough nevertheless to bring his work before the public.

---

Here, in front of the cathedral in Padua, is the first Renaissance equestrian statue, Donatello’s image of the condottiere Gattamelata. In their own right, the armored image and the cathedral come to us massively, in the final rightness that history bestows on its darlings. But click the photograph anyway if you wish to enlarge it.


Sometimes confidence does bring forth works with the power to outlive. For them, "outlive" is an intransitive verb. It survives their makers, burning away all the evil of their beginning. They can kill, but the deaths they impose aren't just blundering Bremerian Fingerfehler. We love them for the reason Rilke loved his angels: because they serenely disdain to destroy us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Desolate is the roof where the cat sat


The only rhymes are above, dove, glove, and shove.