More on John Huston

January 31, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

in liue of Lily’s post this morning, I thought I’d share this u-tube video about Huston’s experience on Baffin Island….That way y’all can get a taste of what the lecture was like.

posted by Caroline Picard

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There is a great opportunity just around the corner that I’d urge you all to check out, and if you’re interested, apply for. It’s open to any and all Phd Students, or students in graduate school. Each year an applicant is chosen to work with the musuem staff for four-weeks, in order to study the Darger collection in depth. A housing stipend is supplied. The Henry Darger Study Center Fellowship is generously funded by Margaret Z. Robson & the application deadline is April 30th.

Here is the application information: hdscfellowflyer09lores

Good Luck!

Unlympics

January 31, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

for all of you who are interested in seeing a spectacle today, I’d recommend heading down to Garfield Park at 1 pm for a show of Unlympics, a game of “class conscious” kickball. It’s part of a larger scheme created by Anne E. Moore, ” a month-long series of quirky sporting events aimed at encouraging debate about Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics,” according to Chitown Daily News. Moore is currently working through a month-long residency at InCUBATE, a wonderful and ingenuitive space next to The Congress Theater.

here is a link to the unlympics website.

see you there?

bring hot toddies and chocolate

On Wednesday, January 21st, John Huston gave The Green Lantern Gallery and Press the honor of giving a talk about his adventures the Arctic and Antarctic regions.  It was  a true success story in an ongoing experiment of interdisciplinarity.  The audience at The Green Lantern was almost exclusively comprised of artists and writers.  The extreme north and south of the planet are places that fascinate the artistic, scientific, and athletic mind like.  John Huston with a deft eloquence arising from a sophisticated sense of, in his words, “optimism, humility and responsibility,” thoroughly enraptured a group of artists with his stories, observations, images and knowledge of these regions.

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learn more about John Huston and track his exciting adventures:

 

http://www.northpole09.com

review written by Lily Robert-Foley

National Handwriting Day

January 30, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

Unbeknownst to me, January 23rd was National Handwriting Day. National Handwriting Day takes place on the 23rd, in conjunction with John Hancock’s birthday. John Hancock was a big fan of writing by hand.

 

Now that I’m aware of the holiday, I have to wonder exactly how much handwriting I did on that day. Probably nothing more than a short grocery list, some strikes through words on my to-do list, and a few random squiggles on the notepad next to my keyboard. The squiggles may or may not be actual writing. I haven’t been able to make them out yet.

 

And I probably wouldn’t have felt bad at all about not handwriting on National Handwriting Day, had I not read this article by Kitty Burns Florey.

Pygmalion

January 30, 2009

posted & written by Caroline Picard; this story was written in 2003.

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Pygmalion

She has strong hands. The backs broad, strong backs with orderly knuckles and a few easily missed hairs on the bridge between knuckle and joint. The lines described there are deep where the act of bending has scored. The fingers are thick and long, their length admitting an inherent sensitivity she prefers to conceal. In public she manages well enough, keeping the fingers inside pockets or sleeves or pants pockets or wielding a cigarette intended to distract. She’d rather not look at her hands. They seem not quite feminine.
Jill prefers solitude. Jill works alone, upstairs in the main body of her apartment. At work she is unabashed; at home her nimble joints, absorbed in activity, reveal themselves. The brazen knuckles upstairs stand tall relishing their course of labor. Her psychic fingertips detect the character of any given surface reading the grain as brail: a message left from the form inside vying for its freedom. Her hermit palms are generous at night. They take stock of nighttime investigations, comparing what is gleaned with what has already been learned, and in so doing mutter procedural advice. Unabashed, the hands delight in composing and refining raw material into artifact. This is transubstantiation.
Jill makes furniture. She makes tables and chairs and the occasional bed frame. The objects propagate in a single storage space allotted her in the building basement. She supposes she might sell them one day, that one day these things might lead a life of their own in other houses with other families, where other hands would traipse across the veneer. This is what she says during Thanksgiving dinner, when the over large family begs for practical answers. She is building an inventory. She might start a business.
With some reticence, while she polishes a piece to completion, she is disappointed that the perfection achieved is unrealized without the later hands of strangers who will wear the wood and soften any hard corners with abuse. Where their lives are at odds they will rub, and the wood will record the provocation; it is only once disputes are regretted that the scratch in the wood is lamented, and only then will the table’s initial perfection, what has been lost, be recognized. Jill sighs; the even polish is so far empty where it lays. She sees her face reflected in veneer. A sad perhaps passes through her.
Jill lays her hands on the windowsill, away from work. An old man across the street is walking his crippled dog. The old man has strung up the dog’s haunches in a sling. The couple moves forward and the dog prepares to piss in the snow. Both are breathing smoke. Dotted lines extend behind them marking their course.
Underneath the snow summer children wrote their names in wet cement and in the spring their names will be torn up, repaved and replaced by other summertime kids. Knowing this was like knowing the world.
The nail of her left thumb is perverse from a hammer’s relentless assault. The nail has each time survived, but each time with a character that thickens obstinately in the most vulnerable part. The left half of her nail is thick where the hammer insists most often on beating. That thick part wants to retire, silently burrowing in the skin cushion as a passive aggressive mole pushing toward bone. Jill regularly checks the urge with a nail clipper. She has already pointed out that the nail is there to protect the skin and not vice versa. She is disappointed in the nail’s cowardice, but looks abject instead of taking note. Meanwhile her right hand, the clumsy perpetrator, is most apologetic.
The thumb is useful. Perhaps her most adept appendage. This thumb, this Hephaestus, through the incumbent reminder of so many repetitious and inadvertent pains does paranormal service to the wooden surface. It is a refined instrument and lent its insignia to each article of furnishing in the basement.
The dust collects and preserves the sleeping artifacts.
Jill looks up from her hands and out to the city skyline. When the rest of the world is sleeping, Jill comes close to peace. For that peace, she sacrifices the day, sleeps through it, misses it, and takes the peace of night with quiet lamentation. It is her ritual. Lamentation.
She chuckles now, her nerves curled up beside the methodic palpitations of her heart. She waits, shyly, with a glass of whisky, watching for the first blink of daylight. The moment of beginning is close but not yet. A sad perhaps is tinkering in bare feet, as a child unused to mortality, in a house full of sleeping elders.
The whisky leaves a ring on the sill beside her dirty fingerprints. The dialogue between impressions distracts the woman who left them there. The incomplete circle describes the glass that the partner of the hand with prints in common is now holding. Her right hand is active, and now it holds the glass actively, still apologetic. Implied also are the thoughts she had moments before when fingers and whisky alike sat resting side by side. What she sees are the thoughts inspired by her an earlier pulse, when she wondered whether that heart, hers, would get confused with company if a pair of hearts beat side by side. Hers might fall into step with the other, for hers was accustomed to surrounding quiet that did not compete, but always relented.
A cameo performance is recorded on the sill. It is awkward. It is not poetic. What is left behind is the husk of what was breathing before. She feels ghosts in the room; they are not sleeping but are watching like the residue of sweating ice and human oil and sawdust. Her pulse perpetuates itself, governing her breath.
Probably there is asbestos in the paint.
In Hiroshima there are stairs that lead from the street to a bank. On the stairs the shadow of the man who stood there in a top hat before the blast is burnt into concrete. The blast was so bright it pinned down what the man’s form blocked: it bleached the area around his shadow. The steps are in a museum but Jill had never seen them, only heard. She had never been on a plane.
At night, when Jill is awake, all time is present. When things stand still time moves slowly. Time moves slowly beside Jill who takes care not to excite its passage. If her heart grew bold she took care to pause, to breathe, to measure her fingers, and extend the movement of a minute once more. A steady heart was best for working.
At night before bed when her work is finished the whisky smiles, Jill wavers on a rope between the ghosts of those who had not yet died and those who had died already. Unsure of where to put herself, she remains indeterminate as one who has not yet come to be. In solitude it is possible to defer one’s own potential in order that it never be exhausted. Jill kept the furniture she made in the basement where it waited for some wear. The furniture is gathering dust and both the wooden surfaces and the face of the woman who made them are tired despite their newness. Sometimes people called her haggard, but her face was like a child’s and her night like Hades.
“I hate Cupid,” she said to crippled dog outside.
He was inherently precious. His limbs were soft with baby pink pudge that folded gently into form, relying on itself, one fold leaning on another, his wrist like a volumetric hinge without any bone, only consistent softness. He had been arranged to bounce and prance and bat his eyes with pleasure; a pleasure that was self-inspired, an epidemic of giggles and stupidity.
He was ugly when he giggled and abhorrent when morose.
In recent years Cupid became withdrawn. Crippled by irony, his matchmaking efforts were repetitious. He seemed to have lost initiative, relying on greeting cards and presents wrapped in plastic. Cupid was shallow. He became depressed. A precious depression is disgusting.
Sympathy persisted.
In truth he was carrying the disembodied whispers of every lover’s memory.
“While lovers drink the spirits of Lethe, Cupid is doomed to recollect.”

posted by Caroline Picard

I happened upon two articles today that seemed in keeping with Nick’s recent blog thread about memoirs, strategies for publication and the ever-looming albatross: The Publishing Industry.

To that end, I’d recommend checking out this haughty “Shout & Murmus” letter entitled “My Holocaust Memoir,” published recently in the New Yorker.

And too, this article in Newsweek where speculation of how much Bush might be able to get for a memoir post presidency (apparently Clinton got a mere $10 million where Bush’s is apparently going for a rate of $2). Of course I’m not too worried about a president becoming a pauper, since there will likely be some people out there interested in what he has to say, and right so, afterall the man ran the whitehouse, right? I can’t imagine turning down a drink opportunity, but of course I’m curious about all people, whether I agree with them or not.

Point being, it’s interesting that such a speculative article would take stock of the flagging publisher’s market…which, as I said, has been a regular topic of interest on our little blog.

The rise of self-publishing

January 29, 2009

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

This article on the rising popularity of self-publishing was posted yesterday in The New York Times and, for some reason, it just hasn’t been sitting right. I’ve been trying to figure out why, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

 

First of all, I absolutely respect the self-publisher. Literature is not science, and being published by a major publishing house does not mean one’s work has been reviewed and accepted by peers. It means it was read by an agent’s intern (grad student), an agent (business person), an intern at a publishing house (grad student), and a reader at the publishing house, before being passed along to other business people. Which isn’t to say that these grad students and readers and business people are not intelligent people. It’s only to say that they are not literary critics, they’re not writers, and they probably know less about the craft of writing than many of the authors whose work they are reading. That’s because it isn’t their job to know writing. Their job is to know what sells. And sellable writing and good writing are two different things. 

 

Self-publishing means doing away with that whole system, and that takes a certain amount of guts. Some of the greatest modernist works were self-published: A Season in Hell was self-published, Leaves of Grass was self-published and, for god’s sake, Ulysses was self-published. If these authors did not believe in themselves and their abilities, the world would have missed out. 

 

I suppose the bad taste in my mouth has something to do with the idea of self-publishing as a business, rather than as a DIY experience. Writing is difficult, but there is some joy in it, too. And there is joy in making books, binding them yourself, making your own covers or working with friends who will make your covers for you. We’re humans: we find joy in making things. Unfortunately, the POD publishers seem to have taken all of that joy away. They have simply replaced one assembly line with another.

 

Much of what I’m feeling, however, arrives from the comments to the article. Of the 150 comments, I’d say at least 120 were posted by self-published authors. And many of those were posted simply to advertise their book. Very little discussion on art, or craft, or books in general. Just more self-promotion. I know it is a necessary evil, but it shouldn’t be the bottom line.

 

What I’d suggest is this: write a book. It doesn’t have to be literature–it could be a self-help book, or a cookbook, or a pet-care book. It could be anything: just work hard at it and make it good. Get a friend to edit it, or hire someone to edit it. Design your cover, or have a friend design your cover, or pay someone to design your cover. Then, instead of paying a vanity press to do the work for you, begin your own publishing house. Begin your own publishing house and be proud of it. Print your friend’s books too and do the work, and feel good about it. Try to sell your book, not just because you have it and because you can, but because you truly believe people will benefit by it. Try to sell your book, but don’t sell yourself. There is a difference.

Exogamy : Mike Marcus in UK

January 29, 2009

i thought these photos were pretty amazing, so i posted the press release. i believe it can stand on its own legs. posted by caroline picard.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: London, England. 29th January 2009 –

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Street artist and photographer Mike Marcus will release the first print from his new ‘Exogamy #2’ series on February the 12th 2009. The image features a triptych of intersexual hybrid figures, each a digital “genetic” synthesis of the artist’s own self-portrait with that of a woman who he encountered in his daily life. In this case, he met each of the donor females via a different Internet social network.

There will be an accompanying release of 33 unique large format public works; one placed in each of the London boroughs. This is indicative of a new creative direction for Marcus, marrying his ‘street art’ and ‘fine art photography’ careers into one unified practice. The edition consists of 85 20×16 inch silver gelatin photographs on 300gsm fiber based semigloss paper, individually hand printed by the artist in the darkroom from a digital internegative. Each print is hand finished to archival standards, signed and numbered verso and expected to last for over 150 years*.

THE ARTIST: Mike Marcus is a conceptual street artist and photographer born in the UK and now working between London and Tel Aviv. He is best known for his iconic images of a mannequin wearing a gas mask which appeared in their thousands on the streets of London and New York during 2008. His photographic work has been exhibited in the Royal west of England Academy of the Arts and the Ben Ami Gallery, Israel. His street art has been featured in books such as ‘Street Art, The Graffiti Revolution’ by Cedar Lewisohn and magazines including TimeOut who labeled him as Israel’s answer to Banksy. Marcus’ commercial work has included commissions for Coca Cola, L’Oreal and Orange and eight feature film credits including “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007” and “The Dark Knight, 2008”. Marcus’ art ranges from harshly political pieces such as the “CS” series where he exposed himself to tear gas and photographed the results to more subtle commentary on states of isolation within contemporary urban society. He often works in black and white and seamlessly uses digital image manipulation to keep the viewer questioning the nature of their observations. His practice spans “urban” and “fine” art, blatantly refusing to fit into a single genre.

More information can be found at http://mikemarcus.blogspot.com

The Bear : An Excerpt

January 29, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

“The Bear”

an excerpt

William Faulkner

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There was a man and a dog too this time. Two beasts, counting Old Ben, the bear, and two men, counting Boon and Hoggenbeck, in whom some of the same blood ran which ran in Sam Fathers, even though Boon’s was a plebeian strain of it and only Sam and Old Ben and the mongrel Lion were taintless and incorruptible. He was sixteen. For six years now he had been a man’s hunter. For six years now he had heard the best of all talking. It was of the wilderness, the big woods, bigger and older than any recorded document:–of white man fatuous enough to believe he had bought any part of it, of Indian ruthless enough to pretend that any fragment of it had been his to convey…. It was of the men, not white nor black nor red but men, hunters, with the will and hardihood to endure and the humility and skill to survive, and the dogs and the bear and deer juxtaposed and reliefed against it, ordered and compelled by and within the wilderness in the ancient and unremitting contest according to the ancient and unmitigable rules which voided all regrets and brooked no quarter; — the best game of all, the best of all breathing and forever the best of all listening, the voices quiet and weighty and deliberate for retrospection and exactitude among the concrete trophies — the racked guns and the heads and skins — in the libraries of town houses or the offices of plantation houses or (and best of all) in the camps themselves where the intact and still-warm meat yet hung, the men who had slain it sitting before the burning logs on hearths when there were houses and hearths or about the smoky blazing piled wood in front of stretched tarpaulins when there were not. There was always a bottle present, so that it would seem to him that those fine fierce instants of heart and brain and courage and wiliness and speed were concentrated and distilled into that brown liquor which not women, not boys and children, but only hunters drank, drinking not of the blood they spilled but some condensation of the wild immortal spirit, drinking it moderately, humbly even, not with the pagan’s base and baseless hope of acquiring thereby the virtues of cunning and speed but in salute to them. Thus it seemed to him on the December morning not only natural but actually fitting that this should have begun with whiskey. So he should have hated and feared Lion. Yet he did not. It seemed to him that there was a fatality in it. It seemed to him that something, he didn’t know what, was beginning; Had already begun. It was like the last act on a set stage. It was the beginning of the end of something, he didn’t know what except that he would not grieve. He would be humble and proud that he had been found worthy to be a part of it or even just to see it too. — and it was in McCaslin’s eyes too, he had only to look at McCaslin’s eyes and it was there, that summer twilight seven years ago, almost a week after they had returned from the camp before he discovered that Sam Fathers had told McCaslin: an old bear, fierce and ruthless not just to stay alive but ruthless with the fierce pride of liberty and freedom, jealous and proud enough of liberty and freedom to see it threatened not with fear not even alarm but almost with joy, seeming deliberately to put it into jeopardy in order to savor it and keep his old strong bones and flesh supple and quick to defend and preserve it; an old man, son of a Negro slave and an Indian king, inheritor on the one hand of the long chronicle of a people who had learned humility through suffering and learned pride through the endurance which survived the suffering, and on the other side the chronicle of a people even longer in the land than the first, yet who now existed there only in the solitary brotherhood of an old and childless Negro’s alien blood and the wild and invincible spirit of an old bear; a boy who wished to learn humility and pride in order to become skillful and worthy in the woods but found himself becoming so skillful so fast that he feared he would never become worthy because he had not learned humility and pride though he had tried, until one day an old man who could not have defined either led him as though by the hand to where an old bear and a little mongrel dog showed him that, by possessing one thing other, he would possess them both; and a little dog, nameless and mongrel and many-fathered, grown yet weighing less than six pounds, who couldn’t be dangerous because there was nothing anywhere much smaller, not fierce because that would have been called just noise, not humble because it was already too near the ground to genuflect, and not proud because it would not have been close enough for anyone to discern what was casting that shadow, and which didn’t even know it was not going to heaven since they had already decided it had no immortal soul, so that all it could be was brave even though they would probably call that too just noise. “And you didn’t shoot,” McCaslin said. “How close were you?” “I don’t know,” he said. “There was a big wood tick just inside his off hind leg. I saw that. But I didn’t have the gun then.”