thinking about sermons

“Beauty’s simultaneity with the pure fire of living poetry is outside contemporary critical interest. The professional discipline of literary scholarship tends to dismiss Jonathan Edwards’ religious intensity as embarrassingly outmoded. Mention his name and the title of one sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” is sure to follow; that is usually that. In 2008 we see through speculative knowledge and are unwilling to embrace the imaginative and aesthetic crossing he makes between our material world – the world of types – and the spiritual world as it actively flows from revelation into human history. For Edwards, new truths are suggested through inspiration, but such light is only understood and revealed int he Word of God; it can’t be given without the Word. This Calvinist minister who spent his life in the eighteenth-century Connecticut River Valley, and didn’t write in verse, had the imagination of a poet. He believed that precise word choices, when disciplined into becoming bare embodiments of ideas, would become the source or occasion of conceptual discovery.”

(Susan Howe, “Choir Answers to Choir: Notes on Jonathan Edwards and Wallace Stevens,” pp. 52–53 in the Chicago Review 54:4.)

september 23–september 26



  • The Divorcée, directed by Robert Z. Leonard
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, dir. John Krasinski
  • Sarabande & Winter, dir. Nathaniel Dorsky
  • A Free Soul, dir. Clarence Brown


  • “David Novros,” Paula Cooper Gallery
  • “Carl Andre,” Paula Cooper Gallery
  • “Zig Zag,” Sperone Westwater
  • “Heinz Mack: Paintings, 1957–1964,” Sperone Westwater
  • “James Turrell: Large Holograms,” PaceWildenstein
  • “Bernadette Corportation,” Greene Naftali
  • “Peter Hujar: Photographs 1956–1958,” Matthew Marks Gallery
  • “Dennis Hopper: Signs of the Times,” Tony Shafrazi Gallery
  • “A Matter of Light,” Elga Wimmer


“[Alighiero] Boetti was just about to embark on his major work of the early ’70s, the compilation of a list of the world’s one thousand longest rivers, which would be published as a book in 1977. It may not be immediately apparent that this was a huge undertaking in geographical research, calling not for consultation with available reference works but for extensive inquiries with scientific institutes around the world. As Anne-MArie Sauzeau-Boetti wrote in the book’s preface, of the various ways of comparing rivers according to size, that of length is ‘the most arbitrary, the most naive, but even today the most common.’ Any true measurement of a river’s length, as Sauzeau-Boetti points out, is rendered ambiguous by ‘its meanders and its passages through lakes, its branching around islands or displacements in the delta, by human intervention along its course, by the ungraspable limits between fresh and saltwater.&nbsp.&nbsp.&nbsp.’ Boetti’s task in compiling his list of the thousand longest rivers was to give an apparently logical and scientific structure to an obsession, an irrational project – to produce a disinterested contribution to knowledge that would be not only useless but perhaps not even really knowledge. One wants to ask, as a narratorial voice in Ulysses does of its hero, ‘What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning to the range, admire?’ And to answer, as did its oddly Whitmanesque interlocutor: ‘Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level.’ ”

(Barry Schwabsky, “Imaginary Itineraries: Alighiero Boetti’s Dossier Postale,” The Print Collector’s Newsletter, vol. 26 no. 3 (July–August 1995), p. 91.)

september 18–september 22



  • Mentiras piadosas (Made Up Memories), directed by Diego Sabanés
  • The Informant!, dir. Steven Soderbergh
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade, dir. Tony Richardson


(for Harold Bloom)

Now in the middle of my life
all things are white.
I walk under the trees,
the frayed leaves,
the wide net of noon,
and the day is white.
And my breath is white,
drifting over the patches
of grass and fields of ice
into the high circles of light.
As I walk, the darkness of
my steps is also white,
and my shadow blazes
under me. In all seasons
the silence where I find myself
and what I make of nothing are white,
the white of sorrow,
the white of death.
Even the night that calls
like a dark wish is white;
and in my sleep as I turn
in the weather of dreams
it is the white of my sheets
and the white shades of the moon
drawn over my floor
that save me for morning.
And out of my waking
the circle of light widens,
it fills with trees, houses,
stretches of ice.
It reaches out. It rings
the eye with white.
All things are one.
All things are joined
even beyond the edge of sight.

(Mark Strand, from The Late Hour.)

keeping things whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

(Mark Strand, from Sleeping with One Eye Open.)