Wednesday, August 25, 2021

parrroting and trompe-l'oeil

 Couldn't put it down, didn't put it down, this piece in the recent Art Bulletin (September 2021, vol 103, no. 3, )  Maggie M. Cao, "Playing Parrot: American Trompe l'oeil and Empire," pp. 97-124. 

In part because for years back when, I was swept up by a fascination with Alex, a celebrated gray parrot, and the idea of imitating as vastly captivating. I would endlessly prattle on about everything related to Alex. At one point, during a talk at the University of Florida,  someone in the audience unleashed  a discussion with his cellphone and upon it was speaking,  Alex a parrot... laughter everywhere, and how to recover my sense of unparroting humour. I was happily in contact with Irene Pepperberg, about whom the NYTiimes had written,  referring to her "Alex and Me" -- the history of Alex, who, as I remember, died at the age of 25, when she had kisssed him goodnight. Well, I was overcome. Alex remained with me and many of us over a long time.

To return to the Parrot piece,  as a translator, I was alarmed by footnote 48 (out of 97 foontotes) which holdss that the painter's French "contains slightly awkward turns of phrase"  ..."meaning he falls just short of linguistic  mastery."(p. 123). I  am certainly feeling I very frequently fall short of linguistic mastery, and very short indeed of artistic mastery. Whew. But how interesting to consider how this bird mirrors his own predicament, whatever it might be. As we all do, whatever we write or say.


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