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Showing posts from February, 2010

The Eloquent Object

I am thieving the title of this post from an exhibition of furniture I once saw at the SAM. I'm still turning the phrase over and over in my mind.

I love the thingness of things. My room is cluttered with figures, photos, postcards, colors, and pieces of paper. K, I know, fears I'll end up being like one of the Grey Gardens women. I like being around things to handle and touch, to smell, to hear. Things become repositories of memory; they are capable of giving small parcels of beauty. These are subjectively beautiful, not expensive, things - sometimes changeable things.

Being surrounded by beautiful things, even small snippets of paper and buttons, is important to me. Here is my homage to the things that currently give me aesthetic pleasure.

1. A Book (of course). These Penguin Classics are beautifully cloth-bound (despite what my boss, Robert, says about overpriced books sans dust jackets) and every bit worth the money. I have Cranford, which is green and covered in a recurri…

A Potter (Not Harry)

Usually I try to pair what I'm reading: like with unlike, a British drawing room novel with a gritty Southern novel, a book for children with a biography. This - or my half-hearted attempt - is supposed to broaden my palate, to evoke a world rich in contradictions, in divergent styles or visions, with a range of characters, landscapes, atmospheres, and language. This has its drawbacks, though, as I feel from time to time as though I have no context, no measurement, or steady gradient to work through. Writers become pointillist speckles, and their voices part of a larger babble.

It is with great pleasure, therefore, that I have embarked on reading several consecutive works by A.S. Byatt with not the least hint of boredom or book-adultery. Her Frederica Quartet, novels written between 1978 and 2002 and sharing the same and ever-growing cast of characters, is a song cycle which the composition is seamless (at least, it seems so from the vantage point of the third book) and brings back…


Aside from what felt like an Arctic first week of December, it's been a very warm winter this year. Not yet Lent, flowers are already crowning trees, and the grasses and patches of moss are growing outside our front door. The latest issue of the arts journal Image, for which I proudly volunteer, has the following poem by Luci Shaw which seems to trickle down just as a poem should.

Psalm for the January Thaw - Luci Shaw

Blessed be God for thaw, for the clear drops
that fall, one by one, like clocks ticking, from
the icicles along the eaves. For shift and shrinkage,
including the soggy gray mess on the deck
like an abandoned mattress that has
lost its inner spring. For the gurgle
of gutters, for snow melting underfoot when I
step off the porch. For slush. For the glisten
on the sidewalk that only wets the foot sole
and doesn’t send me slithering. Everything
is alert to this melting, the slow flow of it,
the declaration of intent, the liquidation.

Glory be to God for changes. For bulbs
breaking th…

Only Connect

In the quiet hours of the morning, I've taken to cleaning my room to a costume drama first thing. There's nothing like a vigorous re-placing of possessions - refolding the clothes on the floor (that I've sometimes perversely thrown around just so that I can refold them in the morning), making the bed, exorcising the stuffy night air by opening windows and lighting candles - accompanied by familiar faces and arch British accents.

I did not get very far into Brideshead Revisited before it had to be returned to the library, but I did have time to develope a crush on young Jeremy Irons. Now I am watching the 2005 production Bleak House, with Cranford (Judi Dench; 2007) in the wings.

Bleak House is one of the few Dickens novels I've read, and though I found the lawyerish talk of Jarndyce & Jarndyce soporific, and I didn't much like Esther Summerson at the time, I liked the book. (Though, in retrospect, this might be only because of the mysterious and very gothic fig…
I think that the instrument of the morning is a cello (Bach's) and the instrument of the afternoon is the piano (Chopin's). And the evening? Unaccompanied voices, I think.