Monday, December 31, 2012

Twelve Thirty-One Twelve

So here it is, 8:30ish on the last day of 2012. Outside in the rainy Manoa night families are lighting off their firecrackers, generating noise and smoke that will gradually intensify until the culminating celebration at midnight. I had been promising myself to post something here before the end of the year, and since it is indeed the eleventh hour I'm going to honor that promise.

I hadn't really intended to let four and a half months go by without posting anything here, but the trend that I indicated in my last post in August has only continued. The time that I used to spend writing for this blog has now been largely pre-empted by the time that I spend curating my art blog on tumblr.

I kept Throughlines going for six years and wound up with 490 posts and 9 followers. I've been at it on tumblr for less than a year and as of today I've got more than 6000 posts and 100 followers. Granted, posting at Tumblr is mostly a matter of a couple of clicks to reblog what someone else has chosen, so the stats about the number of posts aren't really comparable. But there is certainly a social aspect to tumblr that is interesting. I've found my way to 80 other blogs which also post art of the kind that I find interesting. I've vastly broadened my sense of what's out there in terms of art, and clarified what my own tastes and standards are. (I've taken a particular interest in still life painting, and have archive several hundred examples on the blog. Also collage.) Along the way, I've gotten a ton of ideas to support my own explorations in art, which during the course of 2012 have included drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage. If there were one major change in my life in 2012, one thing that made my life different this year than last, I'd say it was falling down into that particular rabbit hole. It's been an education, for sure. And a ton of fun.

Given that there is only so much time in a day or a week, the fact that I'm putting more time into art has had an impact on both my reading and my writing. I've been reading less, and writing little. Less, of course, is a relative thing. I'm still literate. The list of books I read completely this year—there are at least as many I dipped into and for one reason or another did not complete—includes the following (the ones with asterisks are ones that have impacted or stuck with me especially strongly):

LeCarre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Toibin, The Empty Family
Purpura, Rough Likeness
*Harbach, The Art of Fielding
*Stephenson, Reamde
Greenblatt, The Swerve
Lehrer, How We Decide and Imagine
*Mantel, Bringing Up the Bodies
*Hessler, Oracle Bones
*de la Pava, A Naked Singularity
Child, A Wanted Man
Ford, Canada
Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic
Rachman, The Imperfectionists
Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Eagleman, Incognito
Majors, Love's Winning Plays
*Knausgaard, My Struggle
Heller, The Dog Stars
*Espedal, Against Art (twice)
*Chabon, Telegraph Avenue
Shank, Teaching Minds
Zhao, World Class Learners (Dr. Zhao spent three days at my school this fall.)
Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable
*Erdrich, The Round House

Right now I'm in the middle of Kingsolver's Flight Behavior and Eng's Garden of Evening Mists, and have another six or eight books piled up waiting for me.

So that's this year. Casting a wider net, I could list the books of a lifetime rather than a year. Jason sent me a book for Christmas called My Ideal Bookshelf. It features more than 100 "leading cultural figures" listing the books that have had the greatest impact on them. Each entry includes a drawing of the books on a shelf. I was taken with the notion and decided to put together my own bookshelf, but in the interests of getting done with it in a reasonable amount of time I photographed my nominations instead of drawing the book spines myself.

These are all books which have had a major impact on my life in one way or another. The titles, moving from left to right:

William Stafford, Allegiances
Andre Dubus, Adultery & Other Choices
John McPhee, Pieces of the Frame
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
Wilhelm/James (trs.) The I Ching
Bernard MacLaverty, Cal
Robert Finch, Common Ground
Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
Richard Kluger, The Sheriff of Nottingham
Michael Lewis, Moneyball
Dorothy Dunnet, Niccolo Rising
W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
David Shields, Reality Hunger
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
John  McPhee, A Sense of Where You Are
David Bayles and Tex Orland, Art and Fear
Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell,
John Gardner, The Sunlight Dialogues
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Willam Golding, The Lord of the Flies
Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Thoma Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time

There's a story associated with each of these books. In some cases, several stories. I'm going to try to pick them off one at a time as the new year gets rolling, maybe try to do a post here about each. In the meantime, just wanted to check in and say I'm still standing. Happy New Year, one and all.