Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A folder I began doctoring in my freshman year of high school, I believe, and continued working on through high school and a year or two beyond. I no longer know what type the original folder was, but the delirious accretions reflected my interests. Snippets from Oddities, an animal bone, a plastic doll arm, photocopied images of Tristan Tzara, Marcel Duchamp, Andre Breton and other surrealist/ Dadaists, Rimbaud's face, one of Lovecraft's homes, a piece of a cigar package, a postcard depicting "Sylvester," a mummified man found in the Arizona desert, who was displayed in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle, comic art by Richard Corben, R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, tiny reproductions of E.C. Comics covers, Lon Chaney as the Phantom of the Opera, a painting by William Holman Hunt called The Scapegoat, photos from old medical books, Tom Peterson's face (an icon from the 1960s through the 90s or so, Portland area retailer), and other images/objects, coated with hard layers of dried Elmer's glue. Incidentally, the familiar white stuff seems to be a pretty good preservative. I inexplicably painted the front cover black at some point, and then scraped as much of the pigment off as I could.
This folder, which transported notes and school work and documents, attracted notice and commentary from time to time. Other times, I used the standard "Pee Chee," or other folders. The Pee Chee folders, with their vibrant figures caught in sports activities, are still around, not changed much from the 60s or 70s. No doubt the tennis player and other athletes have racked up millions of alterations -- with drawn- on moustaches, afro hairstyles and the like -- over the years.
Posted by Jonathan at 12:36 PM
Monday, February 20, 2012
Heavy roof, beams, green and blue-cored, beneath the eaves.
In low basins switch turtles, eels, and rock fish; bleached mouths of pig heads.
Moon and heights; river's channel, parting down a bed of settled stones, at bourn of pine and hills, summits crusted with grave markers.
Ends' of birds' wings, wind; covering over peak, misted and lit.
A water clock proceeded and toned over yard, a line of hewn rocks in white grass, scented and wood-slabbed hall.
Woven straw, twisting on the ground, boxed and trunk and branch in sober morning.
Swollen-topped stones, rain flicking torii's red columns, rock-slabbed entrance at base
Revenant and clammy huelessness, tunic, composed face, topknot; submerged in desert dust at the four-cornered mount where took place the ceremony and procession -- balls, incense, palanquins, joss, somber and in movement. The withdrawal of the clay of feet. Above, in dim light.
Sunk and hollow, bled away, reclining, cask and body of gold-threaded jade plaques, nose insertions, and eye plates: the scavenger of the royal elements of the white stone circle or rise.
Gas and water houses and temples, slandered, gigantic in stucco facades and domes, on the unending plain of slopes, behind a brazen streak from the falling sun.
"Empty Wind" and "Carthage," two prose poems by myself, published in
Pacific Coast Journal,
Volume II, Number ii, published by John S. French, French Bread Publications, of Campbell, California, Winter, 1994. 1994 would have been one of the last years in which a publication like this would have existed (more than likely) only in the world of print, with the editor accessible only by writing a p.o. box -- with no reference to websites or e-mail addresses. I couldn't find too much about the zine on the webs. As far as I can tell, Pacific Coast Journal seemed to finally enter the realm of spirits after 2009.
Dream: I was hiking amidst primordial trees, hollows, and mounded hills from the natural world of Hawthorne or Charles Brockden Brown. Mystery interlopers walked by somewhere below.
Posted by Jonathan at 1:00 PM
Monday, February 13, 2012
I'm in the midst of reading the challenging biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges, published in 1983. The tome unwinds the tale of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who was one of the pivotal figures in decrypting the Enigma machine system used by the German military for communicating in the 1939-45 War. The book has a good balance, explaining both the private world of Turing and the dramatic historical events in which he was caught. He had an epiphany involving what he called his "universal machine," which ultimately was partly responsible for leading to the development of computers. Turing took the insights he gained from his work with cryptanalysis and applied them as he programmed and helped design some of the very earliest successful computing machines (although he encountered many setbacks and frustrations in these efforts).
The Enigma is one of the longest and most detailed biographies I've read. Others I've read in somewhat recent years, in whole or in part, include Ian Kershaw's biography of Adolf Hitler (I've been working on that on and off for some time, and am currently bogged down in it like a halftrack in Archangelsk in winter), and S.T. Joshi's H.P. Lovecraft: A Life.
I still have a sentimental fondness for L. Sprague De Camp's Lovecraft: A Biography, which I purchased (and read more than once) in abridged, paperback form not long after the hardcover was released. Despite Joshi's (and others) savaging of De Camp's biograpy, L. Sprague does have a way of slashing through to cogent conclusions, as off the mark as he could sometimes be. (As with his misleading theories about Lovecraft's "poikilothermism" and "schizoid" tendences.)
Although I wouldn't press the point very far, the horror visionary and the dictator had at least one or two chance similarites -- their lifespans overlapped pretty closely, and they both had "lost," dropout periods at roughly the same time, in the early 1900s. Despite Joshi's and Kershaw's great scholarship and discoveries, they both are so detail-driven that they sometimes miss the night sky for the stars. Kershaw, even with his massive comprehensiveness, has a few peculiar gaps when discussing the Austrian street person and German chancellor. Curiously, there is almost no discussion in Hubris (at least that I've yet encountered) of the nature and subject matter of Hitler's watercolours and drawings, for example, not even the usual comment (whether accurate or not) about how bad they were.
What is it to be a "failed artist?" Is the art itself a failure, or did one fail at an artistic career? Or both?
Posted by Jonathan at 12:15 AM
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Unsent postcard depicting German conductor and composer, Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954), published in Stuttgart (apparently attached to a calendar?). I'd guess him to be in his 40s or early 50s at the time, which would put the photo (and card) in Weimar or Nazi- era Germany.
I wonder how he got the scars -- duelling? The Wikipedia article details his life, conducting, his somewhat shadowy relationship with the Third Reich, and includes the following amusing information:
"Furtwängler was famous for his exceptional inarticulacy. His pupil Sergiu Celibidache remembered that the best he could say was, 'Well, just listen' (to the music). Carl Brinitzer from the German BBC service tried to interview him, and thought he had an imbecile before him. A live recording of a rehearsal with a Stockholm orchestra documents hardly anything intelligible, only hums and mumbling."
Posted by Jonathan at 2:40 PM