“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher.
“He was in Guanajuato, Mexico, he was a writer, and tonight was the Day of the Dead ceremony. He was in a little room on the second floor of a hotel, a room with wide windows and a balcony that overlooked the plaza where the children ran and yelled each morning. He heard them shouting now. And this was Mexico’s Death Day. There was a smell of death all through Mexico you never got away from, no matter how far you went. No matter what you said or did, not even if you laughed or drank, did you ever get away from death in Mexico. No car went fast enough. No drink was strong enough.”
― Ray Bradbury, The Candy Skull
“Only I have no luck any more. But who knows? Maybe today. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
There is neither painting, nor sculpture, nor music, nor poetry. The only truth is creation.
I like sculpture. Though I am not picky – I especially like a certain flavor of sculpture. I don’t know what it is called, but I know it when I see it – modern, yet semi-representational, it has to have a certain strength and a feeling of movement.
One example is The Drummer in The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art.
Another is, arguably my favorite sculpture, Large Horse, by Duchamp-Villion.
So, that is not the only thing I like, but it is something that I always like.
One day, a while back, I was on a bike ride from downtown through Uptown, Dallas. I was with a fairly large group, riding downhill, riding fast, when out of the corner of my eye I caught an unexpected glimpse of a sculpture. A sculpture I liked. In a flash, it was gone. I didn’t even remember the street I was on – only the general part of town I was in. It took a long session of exploring with Google Maps until I found the sculpture at the corner of Blackburn and Cole.
Today I had to drive Nick down into Uptown to pick up his car and on the way out I stopped and took a couple of photographs. Then I had a web search to find the sculpture – it’s a famous one, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni. It’s a Futurist sculpture – with a well-known version in The Museum of Art, New York.
From the museum website:
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
1913 (cast 1931)
Boccioni, who sought to infuse art with dynamism and energy, exclaimed, “Let us fling open the figure and let it incorporate within itself whatever may surround it.” Breaking with the tradition of self-contained sculpture, Boccioni opens up the silhouette of this marching figure, who forges ahead as if carved by forces such as wind and speed. While born of Futurist aspirations, it also remains evocative of an ancient statue: the wind-swept, striding Victory of Samothrace in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
I have no idea how this cast (or reproduction) came to be placed in front of a high-end apartment complex in Uptown, Dallas. It’s cool, though I seem to be the only person aware of it.
“He always accuses me of trying to look’cool’, I was like, ‘everybody tries to look cool, I just happen to be successful.”
― Daniel Clowes, Ghost World
I am the least cool person in the world. I have always wanted to be cool, but have always failed miserably.
If you don’t know what cool is, watch the youtube video at the bottom of this post. It is from Bande à part – a film by Jean-Luc Godard. It is the coolest thing in the world.
The reason I re-stumbled across this scene is that I am collecting bits that I can use as inspiration for the Upcoming NanoWriMo. Hopefully, I can get a day’s worth of words out of this. I think I can steal this scene and move it to… let’s say a run-down diner on an abandoned highway in western Nebraska or some place like that. That sounds cool.
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
― Bob Marley
“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
“There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.”
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows
“He [Eugène Rougon] believed exclusively in himself; where another saw reasons, Rougon possessed convictions; he subordinated everything to the incessant aggrandisement of his own ego. Despite being utterly devoid of real self-indulgence, he nevertheless indulged in secret orgies of supreme power.”
― Émile Zola, His Excellency
I just finished another book in Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle. This one was Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (His Excellency, in English). This was the sixth book written, but the second one in the recommended order – that I am following. The book was excellent (even though I was reading an inferior translation) although I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book The Fortune of the Rougons.
The book is a finely-drawn portrait of the highest reaches of power during France’s Second Empire. It follows the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise of Eugène Rougon – a power mad politician and one of the branches of the Rougon trunk of the Rougon-Macquart family that spreads across the twenty novels. Rougon has a diverse crew of hangers-on that depend on his influence for their ill-gotten gains – but are more than ready to throw him under the bus at any time.
His main rival is Clorinde Balbi – a young, beautiful ambitious woman that is forced to depend on her own skills and machinations – all behind the scenes – to advance her own cause and bring her revenge upon Rougon – who rejects her and marries her off to one of his friends. She is by far the most interesting character in the novel – a woman before her time doing the best she can. Still, the novel is more of a portrait of an age and place than a gripping story – its one weakness is that none of the characters are really worth caring about. I am glad I read it, though – it does a great job of transporting the reader to an exotic time and place – one that in its corruption and grubbing for power is still frighteningly familiar.
I finished the book on vacation, on a Caribbean cruise. The last few pages were turned (more accurately clicked – I was reading on a Kindle) lounging on a remote uncrowded deck, while the turquoise waves rumbled past. Reading on vacation seems like a waste of precious leisure time, but I enjoy it immensely. What could be better than being in one exotic location (on a ship at sea) and being transported to another – Paris in the Second Empire?
Now, on the the next, La Curée (The Kill). This one looks especially good.