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Sunday, May 13, 2012

these days...

Today I noticed for the first time that in the NYPL, overhead in the first room of the Rose Reading Room – the one just full of   computers now – where are the catalogues we used to consult? now in the South Reading room…the overhead fresco is dark clouds. In the North and South Rooms, the clouds are white and pink == so many tourists today, all taking pictures…
e, am just reading Reverdy translations – some really literal ones by Martin Bell, unusable for the most part, for they tend to say:”one”, as in “one looks”… turns me off entirely.
But  super ones by Rosanna Warren, with a  poem “The Old Cubist, “ about Reverdy, which gets just the spirit – austere, impersonal, anonymous, no one specified and no self wandering around. A sad imagination, if you like, but a brilliant one.

And then I went into the art and architecture reading room to read Charles Simic’s Dime-Store Alchemy, about Joseph Cornell’s boxes… some magnificent titles and perceptions.. he mentions ”Monsieur pascal and so I dutifully noted that.. will there ever come a point when my Pascal won’t be dutiful but working with passion??

The reading of the Montale translations the other night: Jonathan Galassi with his, and Rosanna reading William Arrowsmith’s translations – when they compared their translations of Dora Marcus, THANKS to Joel Cohen for requesting that, it was right at the top of my happiness quotient: which one emphasized the sinking and which the unremembering… both reminded me of the Williams Icarus ending, with all the present participles: --ing, ing, ing…

Why is translation so overpoweringly seductive??? Rosanna has written so much about this, and is now writing the Max Jacob bio… something about the radiance of her reading..

So Mimi Braun asked me “what anxiety” about representation… as in the film course I will be giving when I come back from my sabbatical. How good to have literal questions you have to answer…
I am anxious, that won’t do… how to convey the person who writes or paints, how do we choose and answer these things?

Anxiety takes a back seat to excitement: we heard 2 Gustav Holst operas last night, one comic, from 1930, and one TRANSLATED from THE SANSKRIT, from 1908_ incredibly moving – a wife, beloved by and loving her husband, saves him from death -- and at the end, the singing continues while the orchestra is plunged in darkness. REMARKABLE.

Then we went to hear The American String Quartet, doing some Haydyn (yes) and some Dvorak (yes) and then a grand Beethoven, by which time I had agreed with my husband that we have to sit WAY BACK to have it all cohere!

On my way to Paris, to speak for 30 minutes in French about a thesis, very very long and very grand, about Surrealist exhibitions on this side of the Atlantic… SO much I didn’t know, and probably won’t remember…but first, an oral exam, and my final class of this semester, and on and on, and then on.