Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Mild Boredom of Order

"I am unpacking my library. Yes, I am. The books are not yet on the shelves, not yet touched by the mild boredom of order. I cannot march up and down their ranks to pass them in review before a friendly audience. You need not fear any of that. Instead, I must ask you to join me in the disorder of crates that have been wrenched open, the air saturated with the dust of wood, the floor covered with torn paper, to join me among piles of volumes that are seeing daylight again after two years of darkness, so that you may be ready to share with me a bit of the mood—it is certainly not an elegiac mood but, rather, one of anticipation—which these books arouse in a genuine collector. For such a man is speaking to you, and on closer scrutiny he proves to be speaking only about himself."
—Walter Benjamin, in Illuminations

In a House Full of Books

Lesley Barnes, Herzog and the Monsters, 2007

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Test, the Trouble

"The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible."
—Mark Twain

The Scannatura

Ow! Ow! You've struck the nerve of my most intimate sensitivity!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Artesia Returnéd

After far, far too long a hiatus, Mark Smylie's Artesia Besieged #3 is in stores this week. Welcome back, Artesia and Mark!

Artesia (i)

Click for larger image
Mark Smylie, Artesia Besieged #3 (July 2009)

Artesia (ii)

Click for larger image
Mark Smylie, Artesia Besieged #3 (July 2009)

Artesia (iii)

Click for larger image
Mark Smylie, Artesia Besieged #3 (July 2009)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fragment • Prosopopoeia (December 1998)

I was born in the Philippines, in a whitewashed stone hospital overlooking Manila Bay. My grandmother might have told you that my seaside birth accounts for the color of my eyes; the science of genetics suggests, on the other hand, that their color is determined by a recessive gene. Which explanation is true? My grandmother had an answer for this question: Never spoil a good story for the truth. I grew up on Cape Cod, in New York, Boston, London, Hamburg. In Hampstead, at age four and a half, I wrote and illustrated my first story, "Tom the Fish." My hero, a soldier in the guard of the King Fish, wears a busby and contrives somehow to carry a saber. I have drawn his eye—Tom is always rendered in profile—with a single dot of blue felt-tip.

What Else Is Life If Not This?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

There All Is Order and Beauty

Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme, et volupté.
—Baudelaire, "L'Invitation au voyage," in Les fleurs du mal

Edward Burtynsky (i)

Edward Burtynsky, Uranium Tailings No. 7, Elliot Lake, Ontario, 1995.

Edward Burtynsky (ii)

Edward Burtynsky, Shipbreaking No. 13, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000.

Edward Burtynsky (iii)

Edward Burtynsky, Shipbreaking No. 27 with Cutter, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2001.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Salt Girl

I wish I were close
To you as the wet skirt of
A salt girl to her body.
—Yamabe no Akahito (eighth century)


Howard Pyle, Marooned, 1909. Oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

(Un)questionable Things

Have a festive holiday weekend, my friends. But mustn't forget: "It's safety first in the Roller Cage of Fire!" For my part, I'm going sailing. Wind and tide willing, I'll be back sometime next week.

Sea Quill, View from the Cockpit

Click for larger image