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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.


Friday, June 26, 2015

3 by Flannery O'Connor

Around this season I consumed the above volume by

Flannery O'Connor

 This was a first for me -- the first time I'd rolled through anything by O'Connor. I previously possessed a misty impression of her as a Southern Gothic writer, with comic or grotesque aspects -- not someone who sounded initially of interest to me. After soaking up Wise Blood, and the short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find, and The Violent Bear it Away, I realized that here was an enormously thoughtful and precise artist, a huge talent. A large portion of individual sentences in this omnibus held up by themselves, endlessly rich and quotable: Take "A dark yellow sun was beginning to rise in a sky that was the same slick dark gray as the highway," from "The Displaced Person." Someone I know characterized O'Connor's style as "clairvoyant;" there is a sense for me, as with the above quotation, of Cézanne's or Van Gogh's landscapes, filtered through Conrad's prose.

O'Connor adumbrated her own premature demise, at the age of 39, with her death-saturated writing, brimming with coffins, corpses, murder. Her celebrated religiousness was ambiguous, never oppressive or dogmatic. Her work is grounded in the south, but resonated with universal appeal. The white elephant in her realm, at least in some of the works in 3 by Flannery O'Connor, was racism. The narrator behind her fiction employed racist terms and racist portrayals overly much in places. However, the white characters are often obtuse, rigid and flawed, themselves.

Flanner O'Connor is an author I will visit again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Roman Scott Painting and Sound

A recent video that I made. The photo used (shot by my father) depicts Roman Scott painting in Brooklyn, ca. 1991. The soundtrack is a form of musique concrète. Roman and I created many hours of such distorted and looped sounds in the 1970s and 80s, using recordings of our own voices, ad hoc sound effects, and samples of TV shows, radio broadcasts, and recorded music, among other sources. The first part included someone reading a Dadaist poem, from a public TV documentary on the history of the surrealist movement. Later, Roman read his poem The India Rubber Heads, backed by what sounded like eerie carnival music. Next: a snippet from a Buñuel film.The section toward the end was a selection from Les Chants de Maldoror, by Lautréamont, from the same documentary. Thanks to Marc Myers for converting some of the surviving cassette tapes to digital format.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

In Memoriam Roman Scott,1965-2015

I just learned that my friend, the artist Roman Scott, passed away at the age of 50, after a long illness (and he had the grace to leave along with Christopher Lee!). I met him in September 1976 when we were in the sixth grade, and have been in continuous contact since, as he moved first to a different school district, then later in life to Colorado, New York City, and Norway. I'm happy to write I was able to visit him a number of times, in all three of these places -- we joked about him moving ever eastward. Thank you for nearly 39 years of friendship. 

He is survived by his wife, Heidi, his brother, Dave, his father, Walt, and many other grieving relatives and friends. Above is a photo I took of Roman in Kragerø, Norway (a haunt of Edvard Munch, the Norwegian titan of art), on a trip in June 2009.

"But O the heavy change now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone, and never must return!
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves,
With wilde thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown,
And all their echoes mourn."

Milton, "Lycidas" 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

St. Elizabeth's, Wrocław, Poland

I missed this church on my first visit to Wrocław in 2009, so I made it a priority on my second stay. I climbed the lung-taxing tower, and surveyed the view from on high, in April 2015. Consider that your złotys to get in admit you to a tight spiral of hundreds of small stairs, with no real landings. So if you have any physical condition precluding exertion, avoid this activity.

 I surveyed the view from above for some time, looking down to the city where some of my ancestors resided, noting the shores of the Odra and the scallops of the town square.  A woman wrote her name on the sheet metal protecting the tower's top. I heard some German spoken.

A view from the tower

 On the street in Wrocław
Photos by JF, April, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Houellebecq's Non-Cosmic Lovecraft

College Hill, Providence, Rhode Island

Photos by JF, 1986

A couple days ago I read, in translation, H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, by Michel Houllebecq. A friend lent the book to me. Among the most insightful works of literary criticism I have absorbed on the Providence visionary, with its view of Lovecraft's fiction as an assault, as uniquely non-compromising, non-literature, as architectural, as channeled by its indifference to realism, to sex and money, the essay also possessed weak points. Some of the quotations were garbled or apocryphal, and the author incorrectly attributed a view of the cosmos as evil to Lovecraft. Houellebecq referenced Lovecraft's cosmicism only indirectly, a curious oversight. But in general, the book was an enthralling read and study. 

Stephen King's Introduction was serviceable, although it contained at least one or two errors. He cited William Hope Hodgson as someone who was influenced by Lovecraft. The timeline does not support this notion.