Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It always seems as if I've never seen it before, that first intimation of
spring, and though I have watched for it, it always takes me by
surprise, as if inadvertant. There is always a day which mixes barrenness
with yearning, a wild cooped up feeling much like despair, and
another day which is more like hope. There is the day when to
step outside is to be born again. And the next day is to be born anew.
In the midst of this is early-spring gardening.
The lawn from the house to the pond is under old oaks; I am perpetually
cleaning up after them. Fall is a blizzard of acorns and leaves, like raking
back the sea, and now we are all twiggy from the spring storms. I rake it inch
by inch as my old Dad instructs me, the old rustic and his idiot yokel son
in absurd straw hats with brains of straw--or so I see us. This happens to be
a day of wild surmise, and while I rake, I grumble Sufi prayers,
so low does this earth seem to me, and how annoying do I find
the my Dad's instructions,f the sort made by the profoundly deaf.
This is rude, but I truly believe at moments that
it is deafness by design on my Dad's part, so the way things will be done
will be the right way to do them, which is his way. Even in his dotage,
however, it is perfectly clear to me that he is an altogether more
cheerful and reasonable human being than I am. I see this
from on high, as it were, which does not entirely improve my mood but
leavens it.Hence my role as bumpkin son--whathisname,
boyfriend of Mopsa.
The Sufi Prayers are no doubt an attempt to address God via a different
departmental mail-service and circumvent the Baptist vote.
Whether it is they or the raking which improve my mood or if--
as I believe-activity and prayer are ideal combinations--by the time I
am finished I am glad.And so it is every spring.
Every spring the hesitant unfolding of color from monochromaticism.
Every spring the budbreak shimmer, the rustling undercurrent of color.
All the while color has been changing its carpet undercover.
Throughout the winter something has been in bloom, from sasanquas to
mahonias to witch hazels to edgeworthia now to jonquils, quince,
camelia japonicae,forsythia. These early blooms
are brought into the house as if to cast out winter.The pond,
meanwhile, has been a curious claret color where it
reflects the maples abud. On the branches of the maple
themselves, the buds are disguised by threadlike leaflets
the color of thistle---which is to say no color at all--but
reflected in the pond they appear a clear wine red.

Otherwise the recent rains have polished the pond to an obsidian mirror
--which ripples!--the ideal metier for the reflection of massive cloud
cleaner than clean, Aeolian white, the Doric columns of the firmament.

3Weeding as a Spiritual Discipline:
Who I thought you might be was not as you proved; I am unamused.
Now I weed to remove you from my thoughts, thwart amour-propre,
and to stop telling you off to myself, and pull instead
this barbed weed from the bed, that chickweed or insidious
These are the evil deeds which I have thought,
the bridge I wished to push you off, the barbed thorn or bristle,
the briary patch to catch and scratch, the fire-ants' mongst melonplants,
the hidden thorn. I shake the clump of Johnson grass
and gradually you pass from concern.
The bed no longer overgrown
has benefitted from your scorn,
and I no longer mourn.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The organization of which I am the only member, whose thousand-step
program consists of many small obsessive rituals, including the making of art.
The predominant belief of this religion is in the aesthetic afterlife,
the one in which one is appreciated, or understood,or even paid.The
emblem of this organization is Eros in shabby attire, much as in
THE SYMPOSIUM. We meet often.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


" I had the image of a bluegold dome , those colors weaving in distinct
strands to the center of an oculus. But the painting came out blue
upon blue. Lovely, yes, but lovely in a way I have already
put behind me. It is too much of a time when I believe that
Paradise was nearby, in bliss, and now though I am not as sad
as I was, or jaded as I was once, I am puzzled...should a painting
affirm what one is unable to?
There is this blue Paradise. I did not know I was nostalgic for it
---if I am--and there it is. It may be done.

As I drove to the gym, I wished for someone else to tell me yes or no.
And thought of Francis Bacon who also wished for another painter--
working on the same problems--to verify or question the work
performed solitarily, without a yes or no. Who would this second self
be? It is impossible to imagine him or her considering what
one knows of other peoples' views. And earlier in history a common
language was shared, and to some degree a commonly shared criterion. ..
--No, that is not so; think of the sterile classicism which faulted Rembrandt
in Amsterdam c 1630. We think of earlier times as being simpler in their
demands, which was not at all how it must have felt.

Of one thing I am sure: art historians always oversimplify WHERE things come
from ,"influence" . Who would have thought that Rembrandt loved Mantegna
and faithfully copied an etching of his ? But he did, and such a thing is
in your hand thereafter. For the record, I remembered a Jean Fouquet,
and The Fall of the Rebel Angels in the missal illustrated
by the Limbourg brothers for the Duc De Berry, and the Oculus of the
Camera Della Sposi , and the Safavid Dynasty illustration of Mohammed's Descent
on the back of Buracq to the Throne of God.
My sacred blue paintings.
How well I remembered them, and to what degree,and to what ends is a
different matter, nor was this an attempt at a concious synthesis.Rather it was called out
and into being by a certain blue itself in some ambiguous zone between ultramarine cobalt
cerulean and that greeny-blue which is so different from them each
that in Russian color theory it counts (so I am told) as a different color
(from a notebook of 1997)


Have you noticed how in the tabloids those celebrities
cited as "fashion victims" all sprout plumes like
characters from THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS, whereas
thumbs up are always accorded that little black dress?
Different people are said to be wearing it. It is said to
be by a different designer. And it is true that its
hemline varies. But close inspection proves it to
be of the same manufacture as the automaton who wears it.
In the future the balm of forgetfulness will be put on the popcorn
and we'll watch the same movie over and over again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010



How gentle the light at waking, how lovely this living blue!
The word "Pure"opens my lips.
That is the name I give you.
Here, linked to the day that never yet has been, are the
perfect thoughts that will never be...
The Universal is a seed, the Universal experienced
without particulars, the Universal awaking sketchily in gold,
unblemished yet by individual affect.
I am born every where, far from this
Identity, in every sparkling light upon this hem, this fold,
the edge of this thread, that mass of lucent water. As yet
and effortlessly you are no more than a delicious effect
of light and expectation, a miracle of fire silk smoke
and slate, a complication of simple noises,
O Day!
...Why this morning should I choose myself? Why
must I shoulder again my goods and ills? Suppose
I were to abandon my name, my faiths, my habits,
and my chains, like the dreams of night, as one
who wishing to disappear and begin again,
leaves his clothes and passport at the waters edge?
(from POEMS IN THE ROUGH translated
from the French by Hilary Corke)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


We found the cavern's entry
halfway up the mountain
where the cedars grow thin,
and snow lasts 'til June.

There in the ground was buried
a cornice without inscription
it felt like a tomb though Maria Luna
swore it was not.

Rather the way to the chapel
of her ancestors,
those now disappeared from this earth,
there where a cure
may be found

And so we followed her first
through a cave which stank
of bat guano,
a tall hallway to judge by its echo,
and then through tunnels
which had to be crawled

o how it felt like
the weight of the world
was soon to be upon us
crushing our breath

only she knew the way
down the rickety stairway
or could find
the key to the door
at the floor of a well

carrying the lantern,
the vocative firelight,
among the mine's striations
refracted like a prism
or mineral bride

(sleep old Niobe sleep,
rock and cradled in grief)
Beyond the moonbeamish world of artifact,
stalactite and crystal,
Maria Luna where have you lead us?
Beyond reflective pools
in limestone grottoes
under the hill,
these tall columns
are caryatids if women,
atlantides, or Atlases, if men,
all of another age,our ancients:
but should they wake the world will end.
(sleep old Niobe sleep,
rock and cradle your grief)
Still I become as a moveless stone
or a nymph barked up in a tree,
salt of old time has stained my tongue
how the heart hardens
there is no rhyme
this is what turns when the spindle's done
the waters of Lethe are white
(sleep old Niobe sleep
rock and cradle your grief)
Nothing will be remembered when I am one,
nothing, not even the smallest detail,
simplest pleasure of simplest taste
all quite forgot and never replaced,
the rose aroma or fecal smell,
all quite forgot when I am one

when I am one I won't be alone
not with all that I've forgot,
neither the title or plot
neither the teller or tale,
neither the song or the spell
neither the snow or the sun

all will make sense when nothing is known
when I am one with what I've forgot,
I will be like a stone in the sun
who does not care
how the battle has gone
neither the teller or tale,
neither the song or the spell,
neither the title or plot,
neither the snow or sun
I will be one with what I am not
nothing will be what I am not
neither the snow or the sun,
neither the song or the spell,
neither the teller or tale,
neither the title or plot,
I will be one with what I've forgot,
I'll be like the snow on the stone
and the snow on the stone in the sun

(sleep old Niobe sleep
rocked and cradled in grief)
(march 11/ 2010)
( from a fragment in an old notebook)


There is a Palace which is also a kaleidoscope of gold.
The pilgrim entering it enters the rose of heaven petal by petal
turning on the sacred wheel, and with each step of this roundelay
comes closer and closer to the eye of God.
To enter this eye is oblivion,
To then be restored
A component of the unity, a ray of the emanation,
swirling in the dance, the celestial machinery.
(from the margin of a notebook of 1998)

Monday, March 8, 2010


Just as there was in Rome, in addition to the Roman People,
a people of statues, so there is in addition to this real world
another world, an almost mightier world of delusion in
which most people live.


languages and languages
blowing him like the fluff
of a newborn chick
across a widening chasm
funneling like a tornado
reeling on wheels of fire
enlarging across the plains

like an arabesque of mist
electro-shocked on his eyeballs
less than a leaf, a speck,
a smidgen,
like tears
(from the margins of an old notebook)


Whereby nothing is actually "abstract" or for that matter ideally
representational, whatever criterion might be applied to form the latter (!).
Rather everything is perceived as through a degree of magnification,
ranging from the subatomic to the telescopic. At some degree of magnification
between these both every abstract painting is actually representational
or vice versa. Calibrate this to the degree of personal optometry and
Van Eyck and Ingres can swiftly be seen to need different corrective
lenses ,as it were. Impressionist glaucoma, expressionist astigmatism
all might be accounted for on a physiological basis. All painterly perceptions would
be seen as being as typological as a set of fingerprints, or the laser-scanning
of the iris of the eye for security reasons.


News Item:
For couples who worry about how their unborn child will look,
or how they will look after 40 years of marriage, and electric
company says it has the answer.
Matsuhita Electric Industrial company says it has developed
a computer program that can use photographs of faces to
predict the aging process, or turn the clock back to
produce a more youthful image.
By combining the facial characteristics of the prospective
parents, it can produce a portrait of the likely offspring,
the company says.
It can not predict a deformity, or devastating disease, or
even a minor sorrow. Yet these appear on the face.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Snow. The willows have begun to bud. They are a curious green/gold/ocre
(a callow sexy color) and hairy. There on the pond is an archipelago of
snow, a funny deco swirl with empty round places in the middle of it
like Mickey Mouse ears. The shape is so like something I've been
working on in this week's drawings that I laugh aloud with recognition
when I see it. If God had written I love you in footprints in the snow or in
pigeons crossing the sky, I would not be more taken with it. I think.
I stood on the Japanese bridge and memorized it. Memorized also
the way the overlying branches made shadows at the ice's edge and
how--wonder to behold--the pattern of the melts was almost identical
to the shadows, kind of a visual pun yet again. Nature in perpetual
contrapuntal imitation of it self, inside and out, and on all levels
signalling processes and imagery on others. There is inside and
outside, of course, but thousands of gradients between--semi-imi-inside
and vice versa. At anyrate, I smiled at the ice melting on the pond
untilI got cold. Then went to the museum where I studied a
Roman Sarcophagous with Dionysus and entourage (Dionysus seated on
a panther)and the ruined busts of many great Romans, including Hadrian,
and Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus, and Etruscan bronzes--
there is a jar handle made in the form of two winged boys carrying
their dead companion--and another such trio, the two youths
now wingless.
Returning home, I crossed the bridge again, but this time the snow
had sunk beneath the water, and the pattern was submerged.
(new york; feb. 1991)


"...My grandmother was very beautiful, and had many lovers
even when she was quite old. A short time before she died
she was in Venice with my mother, her daughter, and one day
floating up some canal in their gondola, they saw a little
palazzo of pink marble, and my mother said," I don't believe anyone
lives there, what about trying to see the inside?""
"So they rang the bell, and an old servant came and said
that no one had lived there for years, and he would show it to
them if they liked. So they went in and upstairs to a salon which had
three windows looking over the canal and which was
decorated with fifteenth century plasterwork, white on a pale
blue background. It was a perfect room. My grandmother seemed
strangely moved and stood for a long time in silence. At last she said
to my mother,"If in the third drawer of that bureau there
is a filigree box containing a small gold key on a black velvet
ribbon, the house belongs to me.""
"And my mother looked, and there it was, and it did..."
(Nancy Mitford:The Pursuit of Love)