formless

“As for myself, O Lord, if I am to tell you all that you have given me to understand about this formless matter, and if I am to set it down in this book, I must confess that when I first heard it mentioned, I did not understand what it meant, nor did those who told me of it. I used to picture it to myself in countless different forms, which means that I did not really picture it at all, because my mind simply conjured up hideous and horrible shapes. They were perversions of the natural order, but shapes nevertheless. I took ‘formless’ to mean, not something entirely without form, but some shape so monstrous and grotesque that if I were to see it, my senses would recoil and my human frailty quail before it. But what I imagined was not truly formless, that is, it was not something bereft of form of any sort. It was formless only by comparison with other more graceful forms. Yet reason told me that if I wished to conceive of something that was formless in the true sense of the world, I should have to picture something deprived of any trace of form whatsoever, and this I was unable to do. For I could sooner believe that what had no form at all simply did not exist than imagine matter in an intermediate stage between form and non-existence, some formless thing that was next to being nothing at all.”

(St. Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin, book XII, chapter 6, p. 283.)

june 1–june 15

Books

  • William Carlos Williams, Paterson
  • Leonard Koren, Making Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
  • W. G. Sebald, Vertigo, trans. Michael Hulse
  • Stan Mir, Song & Glass
  • W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants, trans. Michael Hulse

Films

  • The Bat Whispers, directed by Roland West
  • The Mission, dir. Roland Joffé
  • Dark Victory, dir. Edmund Goulding
  • The Gay Divorcee, dir. Mark Sandrich
  • Prometheus, dir. Ridley Scott
  • Quatermass and the Pit, dir. Roy Ward Baker

Exhibits

  • “An Accumulation of Information Taken from Here to There,” Sperone Westwater
  • “William Wegman: Artists Including Me,” Sperone Westwater
  • “Hannah Whitaker: The Use of Noise,” Thierry Goldberg Gallery
  • “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language,” MOMA

the language of the house itself

“It was the language of the house itself that spoke to him, writing out for him with surpassing breadth and freedom the associations and conceptions, the ideals and possibilities of the mistress. Never, he felt sure, had he seen so many things so unanimously ugly – operatively, ominously so cruel. He was glad to have found this last name for the whole character; ‘cruel’ somehow played into the subject for an article – an article that his impression put straight into his mind. He would write about the heavy horrors that could still flourish, that lifted their undiminished heads, in an age so proud of its short way with false gods; and it would be funny if what he should have got from Mrs. Lowder were to prove after all but a small amount of copy. Yet the great thing, really the dark thing, was that, even while he thought of the quick column he might add up, he felt it less easy to laugh at the heavy horrors than to quail before them. He couldn’t describe and dismiss them collectively, call them either Mid-Victorian or Early – not being certain they were rangeable under one rubric. It was only manifest they were splendid and were furthermore conclusively British. They constituted an order and abounded in rare material – precious woods, metals, stuffs, stones. He had never dreamed of anything so fringed and scalloped, so buttoned and corded, drawn everywhere so tight and curled everywhere so thick. He had never dreamed of so much gilt and glass, so much satin and plush, so much rosewood and marble and malachite. But it was above all the solid forms, the wasted finish, the misguided cost, the general attestation of morality and money, a good conscience and a big balance. These things finally represented for him a portentous negation of his own world of thought – of which, for that matter, in presence of them, he became as for the first time hopelessly aware. They revealed it to him by their merciless difference.”

(Henry James, The Wings of the Dove, book 2, chapter 2)

not only/but also

Having transferred the one to the other
And living on the plain of insistent self-knowledge
Just outside the great city, I see many
Who come and go, and being myself involved in distant places
Ask how they adjust to
The light that rains on the traveler’s back
And pushes out before him. It is always “the journey,”
And we are never sure if these are preparations
Or a welcome back to the old circle of stone posts.

That was there before the first invention
And now seems a place of vines and muted shimmers
And sighing at noon
As opposed to

The terrain of stars, the robe
Of only that journey. You adjusted to all that
Over a long period of years. When we next set out
I had spent years in your company
And was now turning back, half amused, half afraid,
Having in any case left something important back home
Which I could not continue without,
An invention so simple I could never figure out
How they spent so many ages without discovering it.
I would have found it, altered it
To be my shape, probably in my own lifetime,
In a decade, in just a few years.

(John Ashbery, from As We Know.)

may 16–may 31

Books

  • Diane Williams, Excitability: Selected Stories 1986–1996
  • Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama
  • Tatyana Tolstaya, The Slynx, trans. Jamey Gambrell
  • Kenneth Anger, Hollywood Babylon

Films

  • Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, directed by Matt Wolf
  • Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Céline and Julie Go Boating), dir. Jacques Rivette
  • The People vs. Paul Crump, dir. William Freidkin
  • Thin Blue Line, dir. William Freidkin
  • To Live and Die in L.A., dir. William Freidkin
  • Impressionen unter Wasser, dir. Leni Riefensthal
  • Purple Rain, dir. Albert Magnoli

Exhibits

  • “Italian Futurists: Concepts and Imaginings,” NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò
  • “Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art,” Grey Art Gallery
  • “Soledad Arias: On Air,” RH Gallery
  • “Text in Process,” RH Gallery
  • “Ugly Duckling Presse,” RH Gallery
  • “Domenico Gnoli: Paintings 1964–1969,” Luxembourg & Dayan
  • “Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890–1940,” Jewish Museum
  • “Picasso and Françoise Gilot: Paris–Vallauris 1943–1953,” Gagosian
  • “Bound: Hans Bellmer & Unica Zürn,” Ubu Gallery
  • “Frank Stella: New Work,” FreedmanArt
  • “Larry Rivers: Later Works,” Tibor de Nagy
  • “Francesca Woodman,” Guggenheim
  • “Tomás Saraceno: Cloud City,” Met
  • “Bellini, Titian, and Lotto: North Italian Paintings from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo,” Met