“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”)”
“But in the dynamic space of the living Rocket , the double integral has a different meaning. To integrate here is to operate on a rate of change so that time falls away: change is stilled…’Meters per second ‘ will integrate to ‘meters.’ The moving vehicle is frozen, in space, to become architecture, and timeless. It was never launched. It never did fall.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
The campus where I work is surrounded by a wire-mesh fence. I had been ignored for decades and was, in many places, covered with various vines that had grown up and expanded until the wire was covered with green.
One day, years ago, too many years ago, a coworker approached me with a request. He was part of a naturalist group that was working to remove invasive species of plants from Dallas and the areas around. There were a couple of nasty species (unfortunately, I don’t exactly remember which ones) living on the fences of the campus. “The berries are attractive to birds and they spread the plants all around,” he said. He asked me to see if I could get the landlord to remove the plants. I did my best, but nothing ever came of it – for a long time.
Finally, last year a crew appeared and removed all the plants. I think they did it more for fire prevention than environmental reasons… but they cut them down, hauled them off. But it had been so long, the thick, tough wood of the vine stems had grown into and around the wires and they could not remove all of it without breaking the wires.
So now, when you drive by you see these odd patterns of old vine wood scattered across the diamonds of galvanized steel wire. I guess they will eventually rot and fall off – but I’ll bet that’s going to be more than a few years.
Here lies Walter Fielding. He bought a house, and it killed him.
—-The Money Pit
“He told me that in 1886 he had invented an original system of numbering and that in a very few days he had gone beyond the twenty-four-thousand mark. He had not written it down, since anything he thought of once would never be lost to him. His first stimulus was, I think, his discomfort at the fact that the famous thirty-three gauchos of Uruguayan history should require two signs and two words, in place of a single word and a single sign. He then applied this absurd principle to the other numbers. In place of seven thousand thirteen he would say (for example) Maximo Pérez; in place of seven thousand fourteen, The Railroad; other numbers were Luis Melián Lafinur, Olimar, sulphur, the reins, the whale, the gas, the caldron, Napoleon, Agustin de Vedia. In place of five hundred, he would say nine. Each word had a particular sign, a kind of mark; the last in the series were very complicated…”
“At night I dream that you and I are two plants
that grew together, roots entwined,
and that you know the earth and the rain like my mouth,
since we are made of earth and rain.”
― Pablo Neruda, Regalo de un Poeta
“How is the birdhouse coming along, Charlie Brown?”
“Well, I’m a lousy carpenter, I can’t nail straight, I can’t saw straight and I always split the wood… I’m nervous, I lack confidence, I’m stupid, I have poor taste and absolutely no sense of design… So, all things considered, it’s coming along okay!”
—- Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts
“And what, O Queen, are those things that are dear to a man? Are they not bubbles? Is not ambition but an endless ladder by which no height is ever climbed till the last unreachable rung is mounted? For height leads on to height, and there is not resting-place among them, and rung doth grow upon rung, and there is no limit to the number.”
― H. Rider Haggard, She
“Tell him to seek the stars and he will kill himself with climbing.”
― Charles Bukowski, The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966
“It’s not what I’d want for at my funeral. When I die, I just want them to plant me somewhere warm. And then when the pretty women walk over my grave I would grab their ankles, like in that movie.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Dallas Museum of Art
Funerary figure (tau-tau)
Indonesia: South Sluawesi, Sa’dan Toraja People
19th century or earlier
The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1980.2 McD
The Toraja carve tau-tau, smaller than life-size funerary figures, to commemorate the deceased when a high-ranking funeral is held. Only members of the highest-ranking aristocracy are permitted to have permanent tau-tau. This unusually small funerary figure appears to be archaic in style and probably predates even the oldest effigies seen beside Toraja tombs today.
The bun or hair knot at the back of the head of this tau-tau indicates that it represents a female. Her mouth is open and may remind one of The Scream, a modern painting by Edvard Munch. The expression is not precisely understood, but it may have been meant to capture bearing of an authoritative aristocratic woman accustomed during her lifetime to public speaking and giving orders, as this tau-tau appears to be doing
There are a handful of modern sculptures scattered across the various quads on the Tulane campus in New Orleans. One I noticed the first time, more than four years ago, that we took Lee there for a visit was a construction of wood and a stack of handmade multi-colored glass blocks that stands in front of the Architecture building.
I always like to take a look at it when I visit.
Glass, Steel, and Wood, 1982
Gene Koss, American
He had some beautiful bent wood work in progress – large pieces that had been bent around forms and were in the process of being finished. I took a close look, expecting to see laminations and was surprised to see that the wood was solid. I asked the sculptor about his technique and he explained that these were done with a special product, compressed wood.
A process takes wood and compresses it lengthwise under extreme force. This will reduce a ten foot board down to about eight feet – but more importantly, disturb the fibers in such a way as to make the wood extremely flexible.
It can be used for extreme wood bending.
He said it comes wrapped in plastic and that once the wrapping is removed the piece is bent using forms and clamps. Then it is allowed to dry and the wood takes the shape in a permanent basis.
I was fascinated by this process and impressed by his sculptures – it was really cool to visit his studio and talk with him.
He uses large pieces to make the big sculptures and then makes small ones out of the leftover trimmings (you can see those hanging on the wall behind the bent wood). Scrap left over from the small sculptures is burned to charcoal and he uses those for drawings, like the one on the left. He said, “I used to be cheap, but now I’m sustainable.”
This piece has been dyed and coated with polyurethane – almost ready to go. The artist said he has a recent piece hanging in the Omni – I need to stop by and see it.