St. Louis-born T.S. Eliot swore loyalty to the British crown and renounced American citizenship at the age of 39. His accent is very anglo, and the sound of his voice is ridiculously poncy. The last few years I’ve developed an arbitrarily strong distaste for his change of allegiance. American letters needs all the heroes it can spawn! But then I take a hard look at my own wannabe Euro antics: I harbor a fascination with the Premier League and BBC programming, pretend to speak French, and came home from two years in Ireland with what my friends called an accent*. The pot has already hung up with the kettle. My friend Tom says we must be aware when someone irritates, because they manifest something we don’t like about ourselves.
While trying to shape this post I did a good bit of staring out a diner window at the rain, hating March, and thinking ole Thomas Sterns was wrong about April being the cruelest month. I was awash in familiar waves of despondence. And that got me thinking about Prufrock, and that sometimes I think I should indeed have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas, and how much I find comfort in the words:
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
How about this drawing by a six year old kid in the after-school program at Rowe Elementary where I work?
They are stencils, and he decided randomly on two colors. He may have just laid a big stencil down and colored them all in at once, or they may be individual stencils. Either way, he made random choices, and random choices go on to give meaning to a viewer. I wrote some earlier and tried to list the things in the picture that were interesting to me, and why. I talked about things like placement and color and shapes. I had a theory that the composition is dominated by what is missing (especially from the stegosaurus, the triceratops, and the unknown one at the top) and the ambiguity of the missing makes it both thought-provoking and pleasing to the eye.
These are fine ideas, but that six year old wasn’t thinking about any of that. He just did it and gave it to me. I am talking about composition and placement and colors, when in reality the kid just slapped it down and made it without thinking about what it means or why it’s fun. The randomness makes it even more interesting, and what happens randomly is far more important in life than any premeditated decision we ever make. Continue reading →
I thought it was worth doing a little reflection on this picture of yours truly from a trip to Edinburgh in 2007.
First off, how about all those sweet jobs you could have back in the 17th and 18th century? Grammarian was a life work? (This brings to mind a Jeopardy question fielded at TJ’s house the other month: the worlds most famous diarist? Samuel Pepys, 1633-1703. Wouldn’t it be great/pointless to be a famous diarist!?). Regent of Scotland? Tight. Mathematician is a little more familiar, as is Poet, but how about the need to differentiate “Gaelic Poet,” probably thought by some to be a lower calling, by others higher.
Possibly the best though is Henry McKenzie, “The Man of Feeling.” Nice little quote about this guy from Wikipedia: “Mackenzie had attempted to interest publishers in what would become his first and most famous work, The Man of Feeling, for several years, but they would not even accept it as a gift.”
Here’s another USS Rock ‘N Roll Blog post I wrote about a hacked knitting machine and my friend Andrew Salomone’s artwork on it, among other things:
My artist friend Andrew Salomone has a hacked knitting machine (as in computer hacked) on which he can take images from a computer and transfer them into yarn patterns. There’s an incredible video of the process on his excellent website here: Andrew Salomone Video
Apparently he was with my artist ex-girlfriend Loren when trying to figure out whose mug to put on a Christmas sweater, and she was heard to say that I’m real Christmassy. This image is the result, which he sent to me last week:
This is a video of me attempting to open a jar of pickled gherkins at some point in 2006. Grocery shopping had just been done, which in part resulted in the video. For some reason it is compelling to me, even though it’s kind of silly and childish.
Particularly interesting to me are moments when people are on camera, putting out their “I know I’m on camera so I am presenting this version of myself,” demeanor until something happens that distracts them and you get a glimpse of unpolished self peeking through. This happens several times as I struggle to cope with the jar, occasionally resulting in some choice epithets.