Monday, December 21, 2009

seeing what happens

Making art is a lot about just seeing what happens if you put some energy into something.
Kiki Smith, Blue Girl, 1998

Sunday, December 13, 2009

clamoring storm

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. Vladimir Nabokov
Syoin kajii via gotsalviento via Pour Porter

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Make a list of all the lovers you've ever had.

Warren Lasher
Ed "Rubberhead" Catapano
Charles Deats or Keats

Tuck it in your pocket. Leave it lying around, conspicuously. Somehow you lose it. Make "mislaid" jokes to yourself. Make another list.
- Lorrie Moore, from "Self Help"
Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

Sunday, December 6, 2009

novels do not get easier to write

Miss Mazure's face was wildly askew. Every feature went its own way, and her nose was a large distraction

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

you forget what you want to remember

"When I grasped that some of the most complex, almost otherworldly fiction of the postwar era was composed on such a simple, functional, frail-looking machine, it conferred a sort of talismanic quality to Cormac's typewriter," Glenn Horowitz told the New York Times. "It's as if Mount Rushmore was carved with a Swiss army knife." NYT via Guardian.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the matter

"I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is." Nabokov

Sunday, November 1, 2009

unless you feel

There is absolutely no point in sitting down to write a book unless you feel that you must write that book, or else go mad, or die. Robertson Davies

Friday, October 30, 2009

it is not your business

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others. Martha Graham via Dear Genius, The Letters of Ursala Nordstrom
Cy Twombly, Ferragosto V, 1961

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

we can never know

"We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come." Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Peggy Gugenheim in Venice

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

perfect pairing

"As a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened." Kazuo Ishiguro
Reading: A Pale View of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro
Viewing: The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography at MOMA


Red, Orange, Tan, and Purple, 1949

Friday, October 2, 2009

when despair seized the author

This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally to ask, with interest, "Does genius burn, Jo?" They did not always venture even to ask this question, but took an observation of the cap, and judged accordingly. If this expressive article of dress was drawn low upon the forehead, it was a sign that hard work was going on, in exciting moments it was pushed rakishly askew, and when despair seized the author it was plucked wholly off, and cast upon the floor.
From Little Women
Photo: Lyell Fall 06

Saturday, September 19, 2009

what is missing?

"I didn't have anyone to play with so I made up my own world." Maya Lin.

Saw What is Missing? at the California Academy of Sciences. Also spending time at (and writing imaginary letters to) Ugly Earring and new to me, Wendy's blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

thinking I was dorothy

"As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are to not have one. Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable." Wizard of Oz via Melancholia

Thursday, August 27, 2009

after betty

"I've always felt the gap between words and things, the impossibility of articulating what's really out there in the world, the strangeness of naming everything, including the self, how completely arbitrary it all is, and yet, at the same time, how it determines identities."
Siri Hustvedt in conversation with Thisbe Nissen
Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers

Saturday, August 1, 2009

junction of amends

When she talks about meeting her birth parents, the first things Sandra McPherson mentions are the wildflowers. When the thirty-seven-year-old poet first approached her birth parents' Northern California house, she saw wildflowers and mushrooms spilling across the lawn and began staring at their whorls and shapes, naming them in her head. For her whole life, not knowing her own birth name, Sandra McPherson has been mesmerized by naming things their right names...
From "Junction of Amends; Sandra McPherson's Poetics of Adoption" by Jan VanStavern
Photo by Gareth McConnell Lyell Fall 2006

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I open the window and ask

Porter and Hollister were featured in NYT today (above) and if you haven't already, vote for Porter's appearance in Mad Men by giving her 5 stars. That would really make my day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


"In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment."
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
Photo NYT

Friday, June 26, 2009

the killers

The gunman is useless.
I know it.
He knows it.
The whole bank knows it.
I am the Messenger, Markus Zusak
Photo: The Selby

Saturday, June 20, 2009

any question of the moral

"But any question of the moral inevitably raisesfor the artist, at leastthe question of the beautiful." John Banville in conversation with Ben Ehrenreich, The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers
Golden Goose Distressed Sneakers, La Garçonne

Sunday, June 14, 2009

reading to an empty room

Paul Auster: There's a great entry in Kafka's diaries in which he describes an imaginary writer in the process of giving a public reading. So-and-so is up there onstage, and people are getting restless and bored. "Just one more story," he says, "just one more..." People start getting up and leaving. The doors keep slamming shut, and he goes on begging, "just one more, one more," until everyone is gone and he's left alone at the podium, reading to an empty room.
Paul Auster & Jonathan Lethem
The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers
Painting, Egon Schiele via Rooms

Sunday, June 7, 2009

in the third act

At the end of the drama THE TRUTHwhich has been overlooked, disregarded, scorned, and deniedprevails. And that is how we know the Drama is done.

... We recall how each attempt (each act) seemed to offer the solution, and how raptly we explored it, and how disappointingly we (the hero) were on finding we had been wrong, until:

At the End of the Play, when we had, it seemed, exhausted all possible avenues of investigation, when we were without recourse or resource, (or so it seemed), when we were all but powerless, all was made whole. It was made whole when the truth came out.
-- Three Uses of the Knife, Mamet
Photo: Mociun via Lena Corwin

Saturday, May 30, 2009

promise me you'll always remember

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
Christopher to Pooh, A.A. Milne
Painting: '61 Pontiac, 1968-69, Robert Bechtle

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

in a dress my mother made

"I was married ten years ago, on a brazenly warm day in January, from my father's house, in a dress my mother made, with the same blithe blindness that sends a bungee jumper off a bridge" For Better or Worse by Lynn Darling
Photo by Estelle Hanania via Montmartre's Sketchbook
(Reminiscent of a Gerhard Richter painting)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

the mysterious edge

"Ninety percent of who you are is invisible." E.L. Konigsburg, The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

people will sometimes say

“. . . people will sometimes say, "Why don't you write more politics?" And I have to explain to them that writing the lives of women is politics" Grace Paley
Photo: Mociun

Saturday, April 18, 2009

why am I treated so bad

I don't care if it's sunny outside, the only thing to do right now is listen to Mavis Staples on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. It may be the best 17 minutes and 27 seconds I ever spent.
Photo from

Sunday, April 12, 2009

men in hats

Leonard Cohen in concert tomorrow and our own Conspiracy of Beards playing a pre-show show at the Paramount. More info here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

happy is the novelist

Happy is the novelist who manages to preserve an actual love letter that he received when he was young within a work of fiction, embedded in it like a clean bullet in flabby flesh and quite secure there, among spurious lives.
Vladimir Nabakov
There are awesome Lolita posts on Now Voyager and Lolita

Sunday, March 29, 2009

meet me at the center of the earth

Nick Cave's astounding exhibit at Yerba Buena reminded me of Phyllis Galembo's West African photographs. I saw them at Skidmore's Tang a few years ago. More of her work here.