Keeping Informed in D.C.
Each morning when I break my buttered toast
Across the columns of the Morning Post,
I am astounded by the ways in which
Mankind has managed once again to bitch
Things up to a degree that yesterday
Had looked impossible. Not far away
From dreams of mine, I read this dream of theirs,
And think: It's true, we are the bankrupt heirs
Of all the ages, history is the bunk.
If you do not believe in all this junk,
If you're not glad things are as they are,
You can wipe your arse on the Evening Star.
Ah, a little nostalgia for the days when more towns had multiple newspapers. While I've had no thoughts in my head worth writing down for months now, it seems, the above has been running through my empty brain. At first (and even still, at that) it was mostly in reaction to how fitting it seemed, especially in the exasperation of the opening sentence and then the comparison of the unreality of certain types of news coverage--the dominating conventions and frames (to use a different, more contemporary metaphor-)-to the fuzzy otherworld of dreams. Lately . . . yeah, it keeps coming back to that first sentence.
So what else have I been reading to distract from the slow-motion stomach punch?
- Lots of good stuff at Fugitive Ink, including considerations of Francis Bacon and Hadrian in London. There's a lot to respond to in both, though unfortunately it's probably beyond me. Both reviews give a typically vivid (from the author) view of what it's like to be observing these exhibitions now, in London, with a perspective keenly alive to the flare-ups of history--artistic, personal, or otherwise--that happen in doing so. I'm intrigued by the idea of Bacon as a (my words) minor/major artist, a little master, if you will, or perhaps a hamfisted del Sarto: his reach limited and his grasp not always certain, yet nonetheless capable of shaping vision. Hadrian is too difficult for me to comment on, I'm afraid; I spent too long living with the subject matter, and even now find the emperor and his age hard to think about without dragging up too many other associations. Well-worth reading, just the same.
- Colleagues who saw the Louise Bourgeois show in New York found it impressive, and I have to say I rather like the paintings discussed here in the same way I like a number of old school Surrealist paintings (and to the same degree, for that matter.) And yet, while certainly it's not hard to relate to the experience of being taken aback suddenly in an unexpected way by an artwork, I can't help but think that the article doesn't come off so much as testimony in favor of the work as it does a comment on the author.
- Worth reading, worth--if your climate still allows--making.
- Speaking of Hadrian and the like, Roman triumph. My favorite Roman triumph has to be that of Belisaurius in 534, which the review (and book, apparently) discusses. How does a late antique general celebrate the honor of a triumph? By abasing himself in emperor-worship, in the traditional Roman manner, of course. Another lesson in that, I suppose.
That's it for now. Except: Tara Donovan opens today at the ICA, and Rachel Whiteread in less than a week at the MFA. Very different exhibitions in a number of ways, of course, but should make for an interesting crosstown comparison. Something to keep one's mind busy, at least.