Monday, May 15, 2023

Huzza Then, This Is the Mazurka of the Hollow Log!

Blog Days of Summer be here. No, pings aren't down significantly because of the paintings (or my writing about them), and seething ups bumps - no posts are read less than happy, seetheless posts. Dead Blegsylvania significantly deader than before melon-twatter and dying faster than ever for other reasons that have nothing to do with me or this shitty blog. Thank you to yinz that sent me Kind words

Last Friday In My Complicity L and I saw the Ellsworth Kelly show at Glenstone, a local billionaire's fabulous philanthropic tax write-off museum in poshiest of Potomac (said billionaire a partner in the group buying the local helmetball team from the turdiest of shitlords). L could not get me out of Kelly's gallery. Feels like my toggle complete: I'm not ellsworthy, but when my brain burns and my spirit screams and whispers I paint about the world better now than I can write it

Stanley Elkin born 93 years ago four days ago. I wrote my masters thesis on his novels and once upon a time read and reread all of his novels constantly. His birthday post used to appear like clockwork on every May 11th. Nothing appeared last year, not a conscious decision. I haven't read any in X years now, I tried A Bad Man a few months ago and no, it's me, not him. I am a hot mess. Here's the traditional post. I haven't looked at much less gardened My Sillyass Deserted Island Five Game for novelists (or poets or musicians) since I last typed I don't think about MSADI5G any more, the fuck is wrong with me

The traditional BLCKDGRD Holy Day Elkin birthday post, 2023 edition (now updated in 2019 by link to another Elkin birthday post, h/t Dan)

Stanley Elkin, born 93 years ago yesterday, one of my Deserted Island Five even though my Deserted Island Five (any island, any time) has dozens and simultaneously none.

Two excerpts I always use for his birthday, read then out loud, please, do it for you. The first captures one of Elkins's major themes, the second is simply the most beautiful, heartbreaking, paragraph, as stand alone but especially within the context of the novel, I've ever read:

Ben, everything there is is against your being here! Think of get-togethers, family stuff, golden anniversaries in rented halls, fire regulation celebrated more in the breach than the observance, the baked Alaska up in flames, everybody wiped out - all the cousins in from coasts, wiped out. Rare, yes - who says not - certainly rare, but it could happen, has happened. And once is enough if you've been invited. All the people picked off by plagues and folks eaten by earthquakes and drowned in the tidal waves, all the people already dead that you might have been or who might have begat the girl who married the guy who fathered the fellow who might have been your ancestor - all the showers of sperm that dried on his Kleenex or spilled on his sheets or fell on the ground or dirtied his hands when he jerked off or came in his p.j.'s or no, maybe he was actually screwing and the spermatozoon had your number written on it and it was lost at sea because that's what happens, you see - there's low motility and torn tails - that's what happens to all but a handful out of all the googols and gallons of come, more sperm finally than even the grains of sand I was talking about, more even than the degrees. Well - am I making the picture for you? Am I connecting the dots? Ben, Ben, Nick the Greek wouldn't lay a fart against a trillion bucks that you'd ever make it to this planet!
- The Franchiser
And it was wondrous in the negligible humidity how they gawked across the perfect air, how, stunned by the helices and all the parabolas of grace, they gasped, they sighed, these short-timers who even at their age could not buy insurance at any price, not even if the premiums were paid in the rare rich elements, in pearls clustered as grapes, in buckets of bullion, in trellises of diamonds, how, glad to be alive, they stared at each other and caught their breath.
 - Magic Kingdom


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William Carlos Williams

     Why go further? One might conceivably rectify the rhythm, study all out and arrive at the perfection of a tiger lily or a china doorknob. One might lift all out of the ruck, be a worthy successor to—the man in the moon. Instead of breaking the back of a willing phrase why not  try to follow the wheel through—approach death at a walk, take in all the scenery. There’s as much reason one way as the other and then—one never knows—perhaps we’ll bring back Eurydice—this time!


     Between two contending forces there may at all times arrive that moment when the stress is equal on both sides so that with a great pushing a great stability results giving a picture of perfect rest. And so it may be that once upon the way the end drives back upon the beginning and a stoppage will occur. At such a time the poet shrinks from the doom that is calling him forgetting the delicate rhythms of perfect beauty, preferring in his mind the gross buffetings of good and evil fortune.


     Ay dio! I would say so much were it not for the tunes changing, changing, darting so many ways. One step and the cart’s left you sprawling. Here’s the way! and—you’re hip bogged. And there’s blame of the light too: when eyes are humming birds who’ll tie them with a lead string? But it’s the tunes they want most,—send them skipping out at the tree tops. Whistle then! who’d stop the leaves swarming; curving down the east in their braided jackets? Well enough—but there’s small comfort in naked branches when the heart’s not set that way.


     A man’s desire is to win his way to some hilltop. But against him seem to swarm a hundred jumping devils. These are his constant companions, these are the friendly images which he has invented out of his mind and which are inviting him to rest and to disport himself according to hidden reasons. The man being half a poet is cast down and longs to rid himself of his torment and his tormentors.


     When you hang your clothes on the line you do not expect to see the line broken and them trailing in the mud. Nor would you expect to keep your hands clean by putting them in a dirty pocket. However and of course if you are a market man, fish, cheeses and the like going under your fingers every minute in the hour you would not leave off the business and expect to handle a basket of fine laces without at least mopping yourself on a towel, soiled as it may be. Then how will you expect a fine trickle of words to follow you through the intimacies of this dance without—oh, come let us walk together into the air awhile first. One must be watchman to much secret arrogance before his ways are tuned to these measures. You see there is a dip of the ground between us. You think you can leap up from your gross caresses of these creatures and at a gesture fling it all off and step out in silver to my finger tips. Ah, it is not that I do not wait for you, always! But my sweet fellow—you have broken yourself without purpose, you are—Hark! it is the music! Whence does it come? What! Out of the ground? Is it this that you have been preparing for me? Ha, goodbye, I have a rendezvous in the tips of three birch sisters. Encouragez vos musiciens! Ask them to play faster. I will return—later. Ah you are kind.—and I? must dance with the wind, make my own snow flakes, whistle a contrapuntal melody to my own fugue! Huzza then, this is the dance of the blue moss bank! Huzza then, this is the mazurka of the hollow log! Huzza then, this is the dance of rain in the cold trees.


  1. Not to encroach upon Mister Doc's territory, but the weekee says Kelly and Indiana split in part on account of the latter's sticking words in his paintings, something I guess the former didn't

    1. "We're kind of broken up about those two, here in the Sea," said the Whale. "But we do have more important things to talk about. Our frame of reference is a little different."

    2. the following is not from our friends at wikipedia, but rather our dedicated and insufficiently appreciated public servants at the post office:

      Ellsworth Kelly forged a distinctive style of abstraction over his seven decades as an artist and today (May 31, 2019) he was commemorated with 10 U.S. Postal Service stamps highlighting his work.

      The Ellsworth Kelly Forever stamps were dedicated at the Ellsworth Kelly Studio in Spencertown, NY. News about the stamps is being shared on social media using the hashtags #EllsworthKelly and #EllsworthKellyStamps.

      “Ellsworth Kelly honed his artistic voice as a soldier during World War II when he created camouflage patterns and designed posters for the U.S. government,” said USPS Marketing Vice President Steve Monteith, who served as the dedicating official. “Today we celebrate the American master of abstract painting with these dynamic stamps that truly capture the creative talent of Kelly and will be seen by millions as Forever stamps on cards and letters.”

    3. our friends at wikipedia say

      Upon entering the U.S military service in 1943 Kelly requested to be assigned to the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, which took many artists....During World War II, he served with other artists and designers in a deception unit known as The Ghost Army. The Ghost soldiers used inflatable tanks, trucks, and other elements of subterfuge to mislead the Axis forces about the direction and disposition of Allied forces. His exposure to military camouflage during the time he served became part of his basic art training. Kelly served with the unit from 1943 until the end of the European phase of the war.