Only the individual who has never written and never dealt with images can say that there are no questions in his sphere, just a solid mass of answers...You are right to demand that an artist take a conscious attitude toward his work, but you confuse two concepts: resolving a question and posing a question correctly. Only the second is required of the artist. In Anna Karenina and Onegin not one question is resolved, but you are satisfied solely because all the questions in them are posed correctly.
- Anton Chekhov
From the age of six I was in the habit of drawing all kinds of things. Although I had produced numerous designs by my fiftieth year, none of my works done before my seventieth is really worth counting. At the age of seventy-three I have come to understand the true form of animals, insects and fish and the nature of plants and trees. Consequently, by the age of eighty-six I will have made more and more progress, and at ninety I will have got closer to the essence of art. At the age of one hundred I will have reached a magnificent level and at one hundred and ten each dot and each line will be alive. I would like to ask those who outlive me to observe that I have not spoken without reason.
I spent 16 hours in transit from Florida to Hawaii today, so my brain is a little closed down this evening. Becca sent this along yesterday and I liked it a lot. It is by Barbara Hamby and was published in the Summer 2013 Southern Review. I thought I'd share it as my not-so-labor-intensive post for the day.
Reading Can Kill You My husband and I are at a restaurant with another couple, and after a few drinks the other man and I are talking about how much we love The Master and Margarita, a novel we've both read many times in different translations, but it soon becomes apparent his wife and my husband are stewing, as if Bob and I had discovered we had a former lover in common, let's say a woman, and we were more passionate about her than our spouses because she was Russian, and instead of no, she said nyet, which sounds like a sexier yes, and yes was da, which is so much more yes than yes but with a twinge of nyet, and it was winter, a freezing Siberian blizzard with days that began at ten and ended at two, and we sat in the dark next to the blazing enamel stove and for breakfast drank tea from the samovar sweetened with jam and talked about Gogol's sentences and Mandelstam's despair, and then at night it would be love and vodka, so when Satan showed up with his entourage, we were borne along on his cloud of smoke, joining his diabolical magic show, flinging rubles into paradise, cuddling at night with his giant cat, watching the dawn rise, reciting Pushkin and Akhmatova, thrilling to Mayakovsky's rants, and in the white nights of summer we became poetry, every breath an iamb, our cries of ecstasy the nyet that is da, and I can see why my husband is silent and sulky, so I return to our table, sip my Sancerre, talk about Paris, because all four can agree we'd rather be lost in that city than be found in another, and the steppes recede, but in the middle of my oysters I think of my great-grandfather, who worked in the mines of Kentucky, and one night was supposed to be watching the furnace, but he was reading, and the furnace exploded, killing him, which led my mother to threaten that all my reading would destroy me, too, and I pictured my teenaged self in that dank little room, the fire roaring, reading a newspaper, a union tract, "Kubla Khan," or maybe Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, whose heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, was so rich and beautiful and stupid I could hardly be blamed for not wanting to be anyone but her.