September 6, 2015 § 1 Comment
I once had a collection of some hundreds of postcards of the Adirondacks, only to find one day that the accumulation had become a marker of an unfocused acquisitiveness and not of any coherence. My original fascination had become an undisciplined mess.
It was easy to give, sell, or donate the majority of them. But I kept these for various personal reasons based on associations from childhood, or of where my wife and I were at certain important parts of our lives. And of course I kept those of the libraries. Always the libraries.
These humble cards reflect a powerful democratic purpose, combining a photograph of place with a space to write and reflect and communicate. (This is why Instagram is such a fascinating contemporary progression of this practice.) They are records of who was there then, and mark where we are now.
September 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
From Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz (London: Picador, 1996, pp. 38-39):
“You had to see Monk to hear his music properly. The most important instrument in the group – whatever the format – was his body. He didn’t play the piano really. His body was his instrument and the piano was just a means of getting the sound out of his body at the rate and in the quantities he wanted. If you blotted out everything except his body you would think he was playing the drums, foot going up and down on the hi-hat, arms reaching over each other, His body fills in the gaps in the music; without seeing him it always sounds like something’s missing but when you see him even piano solos acquire a sound as full as a quartets. The eye hears what the ear misses…
Part of jazz is the illusion of spontaneity and Monk played the piano as though he’d never seen one before. Came at it from all angles, using his elbows, taking chops at it, rippling through the keys like they were a deck of cards, fingers jabbing at them like they were hot to the touch or tottering around them like a woman in heels – playing it all wrong as far as classical piano went. Everything came out crooked, at an angle, not as you expected…Played with his fingers splayed, flattened out over the keys, fingertips almost looking like they were pointed upward when they should have been arched.
He played each note as if astonished by the previous one, as though every touch of his fingers on the keyboard was correcting an error and this touch in turn became an error to be corrected and so the tune never quite ended up the way it was meant to. Sometimes the song seemed to have turned itself inside out or to have been entirely constructed from mistakes…
If Monk had built a bridge he’d have taken away the bits that considered essential until all that was left were the decorative parts – but somehow he would have made the ornamentation absorb the strength of the supporting spars so it was like everything was built around what wasn’t there. It shouldn’t have held together but it did and the excitement came from the way that it looked like it might collapse at any moment…”
September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
Very small ghost sign on doorway entrance, St Leonard’s Street, Southside, Edinburgh.
“To dwell means to leave traces”.
On the front elevation of the same building. Traces of the old bell pulls.
Now playing: Polwechsel & John Tilbury – ‘Place/Replace/Represent’ from Field.
January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
When I woke this morning, I had no plan to drive to Long Island City to visit the Isamu Noguchi Museum. In fact, I did not even know it existed. An online search for a Japanese garden in New York delivered this chance introduction. I’ve always loved Noguchi’s work, and we have one of his coffee tables in our living room. It made sense to go on a whim.
This a very special place, beautifully organized to give space to walk, talk and think within Noguchi’s inspiring forms. And this beautiful building–a converted industrial space–is only a few hundred yards from Rainey Park and the East River, so after you leave you gain further space to roam. The Chrysler Building stands southwest as a kind of architectural counterpoint.
After twenty-five years in this city, there are still discoveries to be made.
“An American is a complex of occasions, themselves a geometry of spatial nature.” Happy birthday Charles Olson.
December 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
Charles Olson, on his birthday. Born 27 December 1910, died 10 January 1970.
“Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 (withheld)”. Text here.
December 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
A writer knows that he is a writer when he has lived long enough to see that his writing defines, as clearly as a graph, his life. The shock of this is not caused by anything so homely and acceptable as “the record of the passing years,” or the recognition that his work is uneven or inadequate to his desire for its excellence, but by the fact that this “graph” is not a metaphor for his life, but a merciless representation of it. It is as if his work finally unmasks itself as the log wherein recorded is the vast amount of time that he has spent at a distance from the world in which everyone else lives. This log tells him that he is not quite here.
— Gilbert Sorrentino, Something Said, 1984.