Monday, October 6, 2008


My neighbor drained his pond. The muck and mud-covered boulders are visible, the silt that has built up along the edges. There's the man-made dam that slows the stream, which creates the pretty lozenge of water reflecting tree branch and sky light.


A few years ago, the Met had an exhibition of prints by Chuck Close. It included proofs and woodblocks and etching plates of his work. There on the walls were the drafts, the carved out spaces, rough, unfinished. Work in process. Remains of ink.


I've been thinking recently about beauty and memory. How we remember and especially how I look in order to remember. The link between memory and what is beautiful as well as ugly and why I remember what I remember and how looking informs all of this.


I like the grid, the horizon line, the fragment, the shard. I like Rothko's blocks of color. And Diebenkorn's cartographies of blotched and colored land mass. I adore Agnes Martin quilted grids. I don't mind at all if a poem is broken. I can sometimes knit the poet's language together, or not. I prefer it when a poem isn't made neatly, even though I do this myself occasionally. I am not an orderly person.


At the end, he was just face, mostly mouth. That's what I memorized. The twitch of breath on lip and lid. The pale canvas of his cheekbones. Half-closed eyes. The cell phone that rang, or sounded. Step back from the blank page and fill it with a block of images, or a shadowy line. Draw up close. Pull back. Look at the years. There are waves, not just blocks, of color and story. Or words. Do I remember what is ugly better than what is beautiful. Does my recollection of anguish become lovely in the recreation.


Oh but we wanted to paint what is not beauty, how can one paint what is not beauty...? (and you must learn to feel shape as simply shape whispered the wind, not as description, not as reminiscence not as what it will become)
Jorie Graham
from her book The End of Beauty


Christine said...

I enjoyed these thought-provoking bits, these windows into larger rooms. I am so interested in that memory and beauty/ugliness topic. We seem to remember those things that give us the most piercing emotional reaction, whether highly pleasurable or traumatizing. Oh -- I saw that Close exhibit! Yes, I like works in the process of becoming, the rawness and human flaws, the ripples of possibility. Okay, back to the debate...

Pam Hart said...

You were multi-tasking -- between the debate and the web!