“Our house was made of stone, stucco, and clapboard; the newer wings, designed by a big-city architect, had a good deal of glass, and looked out into the Valley, where on good days we could see for many miles while on humid hazy days we could see barely beyond the fence that marked the edge of our property. Father, however, preferred the roof: In his white, light-woolen three-piece suit, white fedora cocked back on his head, for luck, he spent many of his waking hours on the highest peak of the highest roof of the house, observing, through binoculars, the amazing progress of construction in the Valley – for overnight, it seemed, there appeared roads, expressways, sewers, drainage pipes, “planned” communities with such names as Whispering Glades, Murmuring Oaks, Pheasant Run, Deer Willow, all of them walled to keep out intruders, and, yet more astonishing, towerlike buildings of aluminum and glass and steel and brick, buildings whose windows shone and winked like mirrors, splendid in sunshine like pillars of flame; such beauty where once there had been mere earth and sky, it caught at your throat like a great bird’s talons, taking your breath away. ‘The ways of beauty are as a honeycomb,’ Father told us, and none of us could determine, staring at his slow moving lips, whether the truth he spoke was a happy truth or not, whether even it was truth. (“Family”)”
Damn them, they are wrong. They are insane. Jeremy will take her like the Angel itself, in his joyless weasel-worded come-along, and Roger will be forgotten, an amusing maniac, but with no place in the rationalized power-ritual that will be the coming peace. She will take her husband’s orders, she will become a domestic bureaucrat, a junior partner, and remember Roger, if at all, as a mistake thank God she didn’t make….
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
It is sunset. You are fighting your way through traffic in the cold dark heart of a gigantic metropolis… cut off from the sky at the bottom of a crystal canyon up farther than you can see. Tired as an old cold bowl of leftover soup staring at brakelights in the wet cold of winter, ozone and gas fumes, the wheel gritty and the seats sprung under your aching back. There are untold miles to go and unknown blocks of jam between the never-ending red light and your warm, soft bed.
And there she is, the Angel of Neiman Marcus forever striding in elegant grace behind glass, out of place on these mean streets, A thing of beauty where no beauty should be expected. Quarter granted where no quarter was expected. You might make it home, yet.
“The voice says, maybe you don’t go to hell for the things you do. Maybe you go to hell for the things you don’t do. The things you don’t finish.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby
Oblique Strategy: Always first steps
It’s tough being a carhop. You have to remember what car has what order. You have to be able to skate balancing a tray groaning with food and milkshakes. You have to be able to hook in onto the window… just right. You have to endure and handle the nuts and assholes.
The hours are long and the tips are small.
Poor Ethel. The only good thing about being a carhop is that at the end of the day you get to go home. But she doesn’t. She has to stand there, looking as beautiful as ever.
Is beauty its own reward? You exist mainly in the foggy yet electric haloed memories of teenagers long grown old and gray. Is it worth the effort to represent an age long gone by – an era of rollerskates and rootbeer in this age of smartphones and Spice?
Is there an app for that?
“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Oblique Strategy: Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list
I saw this woman standing in a studio in an art gallery. She was so stunning that it made me ache. When I ran into her again outside, I had to grab a couple photographs.
There is a role and function for beauty in our time.
ABD AL-RAHMAN III was an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. He was an absolute ruler who lived in complete luxury. Here’s how he assessed his life:
“I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity.”
Fame, riches and pleasure beyond imagination. Sound great? He went on to write:
“I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”
Here’s an interesting article about a little movie that I always thought was great. I didn’t realize it had reached cult status and was so hard to find – I’ve seen it on cable several times.
Vegetation growing on the wall near the entrance at the Dallas Museum of Art Sculpture Garden.
“We are made aware that magnitude of material things is relative, and all objects shrink and expand to serve the passion of the poet. Thus, in his sonnets, the lays of birds, the scents and dyes of flowers, he finds to be the shadow of his beloved; time, which keeps her from him, is his chest; the suspicion she has awakened, is her ornament”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
Dry winter water reeds, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, Texas.
It’s a difficult thing when you see something so subtly beautiful and perfect and you know you can never take a picture that conveys the sublime moment. It’s when you understand what a master of ink and brush is trying for.
You have to be there… but you weren’t.