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Tuesday, December 9, 2014


So here I am, again, writing on Blaise Pascal, my Critical Lives: Blaise Pascal, for which I just signed a contract, and am thinking about how secrecy and suffering go along together with mystery -- that is the preface to the preface I have just written, and the ordering of the chapters is of course the major major major problem
but how moving is his life! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014


And I am SO enjoying my seminar in Modernist Singularities! We lingered over Beckett and Borges, and last time, D.H. Lawrence (why do we have to say D.H., not a lot of other Lawrences I would be likely to teach, it's not like T.J. Clark, or T.S. Eliot, because there are after all Kenneth and George)
anyway, we have coming up Thomas Bernhard (speaking of difficult people, and I LOVE the Loser, about Glenn Gould, well, I love anything about Glenn Gould), and Wittgenstein (as in his Zettel)  -- will I show, as I sometimes do, Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein? -- AND Marjorie Perloff together, thinking of this and that, and her Vienna Paradox, and then everyone talks, instead of an exam, about what they all wrote their long paper on and if I can remember it, I bring some wine and crackers
and we are growing, Boyce and myself, basil and tomatoes, on our indoor ledge and it looks like a Blooming Forest of green!

whooof whooooooof

So we all have the same problems, I expect, and was just reading about -- because I am indeed writing a book on Pascal and have made far too many beginnings over the last three years, so that all sorts of perceptions I had then got lost or drowned, and now it is a MESS, but that is (probably, who knows? not me) the way things work - was reading about the company of "solitaires" who then taught in the "petites ecoles" of Port-Royal. How nice to be solitary in a company, and I think Mark Strand wrote something about it in a poem, I read today in our local newspaper. By the way, I remind myself, having read it in the enormously readable book on Jansenism by Francoise Hildesheimer, that  the name of Port-Royal, as in the convents of Port-Royal des Champs, in the field, and Port-Royal in Paris, comes from Porois, which is a swamp. Now that's really encouraging when you think your writing is 1) in a swamp 2) or swamping you.

What I first loved was, besides the secrecy of the Memorial, Pascal's death mask, so strangely like Antonin Artaud...

For Thanksgiving, we try to ask in anyone among our friends who isn't doing family things, so we had two visiting Swiss professors, one of the history of medieval philosophy (and yes I could have asked her about Augustine or Jansenius, but was so interested in her history of the Electric Fish that I got swamped down and didn't) and the other, author of a wonderful book on cubist poetry and art: that's something I would LOVE to have written, but in any case the translations and edition I did with my beloved disappeared friend Pat Terry is coming out NOW this week with Black Widow Press, called Pierre Reverdy, Early to Late, and it looks lovely and very Reverdian.

Enough, then, about Pascal and Reverdy and Augustine and Jansenius and the Flemish and Swiss -- except that I so loved being with Isabelle Lorenz in Berlin, of Swiss heritage and of worldwide delight -- am I lucky or what? 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

celebrating the fall of the wall

Celebrating the Fall

We just arrived last night from Bremen and ddIncredible to be in the middle of Berlin on the night of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall, the Mauerfall – the very middle, in the hotel Adlon by the Branderburg gate – on the night that Daniel Barenboim is going to play the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth. There are tens of thousands of people assembled, and we are watching now on tv a picture of what it was like 25 years ago… I was then at the Getty in California for the year and remember what I felt like, just watching…

And now again, here it is, with all its hope. So much the opposite of the fall of Icarus so many mythical years ago!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

yes, so it happened, and the Picasso and the Camera opened tonight at the Gagosian and  it was and is glorious and anything John Richardson does assembles all these loving people around him, and that is why I wrote in the catalogue because he is so warm and brilliant, so it opened and we assembled
an all that
and yes, I finished the Brooklyn Rail critics page editing job, loved it, every single minute,
right, and then we went to the Florence Griswold House for me to assemble more about art colonies because of which, after speaking in Udine on Joseph Cornell and emily Dickinson and all that, we go to Bremen in northern Germany to go to Worpswede where my grandmother knew Rilke and knew very well Otto modersohn after Paula Modersohn-Bekcer died,
and tonight it seems we are talking about Cubism and I'm I think doing nothing but in principle, am, after giving my seminar on Borges and Beckett, well, it's on singularities
and I  hope never to have to let up until I have to let up, but not let down if I can help it

Saturday, October 18, 2014

breathless in ny

so, no, I can't keep up, but that is nice too.. have spent these last , what four weeks, preparing the critics's page for The Brooklyn Rail, november issue, during which I got to invite essays from various brilliant friends on the topic i chose, which was Translating Art... and off they (and I) went... my introductory essay I won't resume here, but I can say it is about communities, like the one we formed in writing these essays, like those who accepted, like what they chose... and I have to say the Brooklyn Rail feels like one largish community but who can gather... so to get to the meeting I was supposed to arrive during, to have my picture taken so that Phong Bui can do my portrait  for that issue, and I LOVED the grouping of people, all informal, everyone talking, everyone having pizza and wine after, ah, terrific, only very far for those of us dwelling in Manhattan -- I got on the wrong direction of the subway, and was rescued by Susan Bee, with whom and whose husband Charles Bernstein, I have been in friendly and happy close contact for years... and we ARRIVED at the BR, and , yes, I loved it all.

And yes, we went to St. Matthew Passion,  rehearsal at the armory, with Simon Rattle and Peter Sellars (he rushing up and down and getting the boy's chorus and the real chorus to go into the ailes, so we were all a part of it all -- such music, of course, the summit of music I never concentrated on before like that, and then a lots of other assemblies , less sublime, but they were all heightened by that Armory Experience... I gave a talk out in Woodstock on Georges Malkine, having talked the night before on Joseph Cornell at the New School, and then, I will just attach what I didn't want to add to my introductory essay to the Brooklyn Rail, too personal (it, after all, goes to 20,000 readers)
but I really loved being with Kathy Ruttenberg, so I'll add it here:

Back in the city this past Thursday, I had seen some large and surrealizing baroque sculptures of  the animalist  artist Kathy Ruttenberg,  in the Stux gallery on 57th street, and then on Sunday, I had the ultimate joy of making a surrealist romp through her working place and inspiration: her woods, studio, and amazing rare varieties of rabbits, pigs, pigeons, and goats, near Woodstock. Some animals were interior: Trixie the pig, who agreeably grunted when we stirred her blanket, and who had her own corner with pig paintings and drawings all around, like  an altar: various gorgeous rabbits like Ozone, all fluffy white hair, and, I loved Ozone and one other rabbit of darker hair hue, and we played with chickens and rode in a pony cart with Mercury, not exactly fleet-footed, but adorable, and then returned to the city, animalized in a good sense. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

but wait!

don't we have different personalities and mindsets in what one would consider the middle of the night, from our "ordinary" (what indeed is "ordinary") life and interaction during the daytime? Is one not freer and perhaps simpler and downtoearther, whateever that is, when in principle one is lying down elsewhere and not sitting up somewhere as I am now? Are we  not exactly, Jeckyll (2 l's?) and Hyde, but us and then another us? Surely, and happily. I am certain of this, a sure belief. To be discussed, perhaps.