isn’t it the job of an academic advising office to give students academic advice? just saying. “do some research online!” does not count. ugh.
D’après Flaubert. La Tentation de saint Antoine
(After Flaubert, The Temptation of Saint Anthony)
ticking stripe on chair
– Andrea Gibson (via aurorefleurs)
in his brash, unsentimental way, he was saying goodbye to me. deep down, i think i knew it at the time, but he could barely see and still he knew it better than me. “give ‘em hell.” what kind of grandfatherly goodbye is that? knowing him, a pretty good one. through my mother, he taught me to seek the good in all people, not to take anything too seriously, and not to trust the “phonies.” he always wanted to hear me play the piano, and he told me about his invisible pet hippopotamus he would take for walks up and down york avenue. he was not the kind of grandfather to play pretend and scoop me up on his shoulders, but he was too old for that anyway. but he did drive up to see me—i imagine him wearing his red sox cap (because he rooted for the underdog) and dangling a pall mall (because, paradoxically, he smoked british cigarettes) out the car window.
what do you do or say to someone who knows they will probably never be seen conscious and alive by you again? thanks? goodbye? do you ignore it to make the person feel better, and just say, “see you next time”? i hope he wasn’t (isn’t?) angry at me. the next time i saw him, he was comatose, breathing heavily, and as small as a child. the time after that, he was laid out in a dingy funeral home in chinatown. there had not been any long, drawn out battle, although that would have been expected, given his personality. but he had already been through that. the year his wife died, he woke up after sixty days in a coma, went home, and lived another nine years, emphysema, heart attack, near-blindness, and missing finger be damned.
with all the opportunities i have, i need to think about him and how these sorts of things were never an option for him, although he certainly deserved them and if he had had access to them, he surely would have done amazing things. he would have been writing for the newspapers rather than printing them during the graveyard shift. not that that isn’t important, or that he didn’t do other amazing things. he raised three wonderful children, helped raise three of his grandchildren when their family was falling apart, and through everything kept his own ideas about the world and never stopped learning. the last time he voted, just before he turned 91, he told my mother he voted “for the irish guy.” “mccain? you can’t be serious,” said my mother. “no, of course not; barack o’bama!” was his reply. i wish we could know each other now and maybe then i could know if i had loved him.
when i have children, i will make them kiss the older relatives. if they don’t, they’ll regret it when they’re older and they understand.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the values and forces that really move my life, and some of those forces are semi-political. I find my interests and career goals changing not only because of my passions but because of these forces. For example, I have become increasingly disillusioned with the art world; I find it vapid and lacking in any real purpose that supports humanity. That’s not to say that I think the arts in general aren’t incredibly useful and meaningful. It just means that I think shuffling significant cultural objects within a relatively small group of astronomically wealthy private collectors does almost nobody any good. I grew up in a comfortable suburban environment, but I was always reminded of my family’s working-class roots and leftist leanings. There’s something about that background that just doesn’t go well with being passionate about the art market.
Legendary Harvard sociobiologist E.O. Wilson and former Poet Laureate Robert Hass in conversation about why science and poetry need one another
Lionello Balestrieri, Woman on a Paris Street at Night, 1924
Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1949
Albert Marquet (French, 1875-1947) - Le Pont Neuf sous la Pluie, N/D