Sentimentality and the Body
A concluding essay of a scholastic nature in summary of the book NOTHING DOING which has just been written and now read
[photographs have been removed]
One has to end somewhere.
A The genius of the Poussin painting lies in the absence of explanation. No myth is being described, no public event being celebrated… The painting has survived and is on the National Gallery wall.
B One of the guys who is in the Class of 44 sitting in the Grassroots who knew George was talking of his shock at seeing QUEEN FOR A DAY when he had first arrived in America, being brought here when he was a kid in the 1950s. You came home from school at four o’clock there was this guy getting these women to talk about their horrible lives: My husband died, I lost my leg to diabetes, my daughter has cancer of the face and I would just like to have a tiny vacation from all of this unhappiness and then Jack Bailey turns to the next woman who wants to be QUEEN FOR DAY and it seems her husband is dying of lung cancer, two of her children were killed in a car crash and the third has not been able to sleep for six months because he is afraid of the dark… this woman just wants…. And then Jack Bailey listens to two more wanna-bes and then he asked the audience to clap for who they would like to be QUEEN FOR A DAY. The noise is registered on the applause meter… sadly and really strange, I thought back then, this guy said, the woman with the amputated leg didn’t get to be and..
Two “sexy”--- you know what I mean--- attendants draped a robe on the woman’s shoulders. They lead her to a throne and Jack Bailey puts a rhinestone crown on her head and says: You are QUEEN FOR A DAY and this is what you have won… the camera is panning along the faces of the women who didn’t win and should one suspect that one of them is thinking: when I lose the second leg maybe they’ll give me another shot at the crown?
C Competitive suffering you could say but at least these women weren’t young and good looking because now the television only dishes up good looking people and makes them suffer for our viewing pleasure unless they’re competing for some sort of elective surgery. Isn’t make-over a wonderful word? As close to a do-over refuting every preacher in the land, if you ask me…
D All things conceal a mystery, coming from Pascal. And he quotes: All men shall pass away and be consumed by time
E Robert Bresson asked Julian Green to write a scenario for Ignace de Loyola. Green wrote in his diary: He seems inimical to picturesque effects, wants neither crucifix nor miracles… In the scene in which the Virgin appears to Saint Ignatius, he doesn’t want the Virgin to be seen (Oh, Hollywood, wouldst that you could read these wise words of a great director)
F Your letter was interesting & I was happy to read about Ann’s operation was put off for 3 months. Much can take place in 3 months. I am enclosing a relic of Pope Pius X. He loved children. I am enclosing a piece of the night shirt Pius X wore when dying. It was sent to the Carmelites at San Remo. Pius X when alive cured one of their nuns miraculously. Have Faith apply the relic to Ann’s leg. Pray 3 Hail Marys adding Pope Pius X pray for Ann & intercede for her complete cure if it be God’s Holy Will. Have her kiss the relic also.
Please excuse all errors & scribbling.
Sr. M. Attracta
G The inexorable reality of the material world, its stones, its voices, its faces, its great beauty, its thought even, everything that, in a certain way seems right when spirit seems wrong, because this world offers nothing that is not provable and almost tangible whereas the world of spirit, of faith remains interior, mysterious nonprovable--- how would it be possible to avoid suffering from this eternal contradiction?
Julien Green 12 July 194
H When the metal door opens you find yourself walking down a flight of stairs into this open space between two buildings on Sullivan Street to a door which was open on this Saturday at five o’clock. A long narrow basement space was demarcated into two areas separated by a kitchen alcove and toilet. You have found yourself in a basement converted into an office. The walls have been stripped of their paintings; the bookshelves have been emptied. For a few more days until the end of the month GEORGE KAMEN will remain on the bell upstairs, which his patients rang when they came for their sessions. All of that is done with on this Saturday. All of that was now once upon a time. It is not something to mourn, at all, George would be saying. A person can always go to Paris to see things that stay the same. Every city is different. People get confused when they try to criticize a city with the standards of another city. It is a way to go crazy. You have to be able to see what is front of your face, first.
I For some time he has been trying to take pictures of his own body. He has not resorted to using the timer of the remote control. Too many memories of comic people setting timers, then rushing to get into the picture. He has not taken photographs of himself in the mirror. He tried to make a movie of his penis, of his ass, of his chest hairs. He notices the vulnerability of the flesh when he views the little movies or the still photos. He is knocked out by the sheer loneliness implicit in such work. The camera is for taking a picture of things, of other people, of sunrises, sunsets, all the world of nature. Someone might say it is an exercise in self-love but with no evident erection these photos and little films are hardly that… and then of course they might be an exercise in self abnegation, a session in self-mortification because one sees the aging flesh, the reality of flesh that has not been presented… of course he is aware of Buster Keaton trying to escape his face in Beckett’s FILM, all the while Beckett himself liked posing for the camera, well knowing he filled up the sensitized paper… was this all a commentary on Joyce or his, as well as, my knowing that famous photograph of Joyce who was said to be thinking would he loan me a pound… of course everyone knows Joyce was involved in establishing the first movie house in Dublin and even Celine had been off to Hollywood in the hopes of seeing Journey to the End of Night upon the big screen… and am told about John Coplans and the very large photographs of his own body, but he himself was not behind the camera for any of these photographs, though his body was the subject of these photos and he was telling the girl or boy when to snap the picture, how to position the camera and then he gave instructions on how to cut the pictures, how to mount them, but he himself hardly did anything , not much more than being an art director for this project which was the photographing of his own body: and again there are no erections but there are slightly comic poses when the body is posed in such a way that fingers look like a nest of maggots or a torso becomes a piece of ancient armor… and as must be said, Coplans is now quite dead but his body remains behind: remains, toward the end, instead of the predictable large photo albums of the children when young and the long funneling down to the remains being dropped into a hole
To maintain the dream, and the scar of the dream.
from Carnal Love by Henri Deluy
K He died.
They stayed alive.
The dead seize the living.
l. These three men in the Poussin painting do not seem to be the robust material required for how are we to know when to turn from one to the next to the next? Three men out for a walk, three men who do or do not know each other, three men in a book, three men in a painting. Even in Douglas when you open a grave of a certain date you do not know what you will find, which is probably stating the obvious.
M Like most people who have read books I am aware of Paul Valery saying a book is never finished, it is simply abandoned… but given the world today Valery’s words seem to come from so very far away… there is now no destination for the words you have read, no place where this reading can be exchanged. How naively I had imagined a young person, much like myself it is true, wandering into a library somewhere— Menasha, Wisconsin, Patchogue, NY, Douglas, AZ will serve--- and walking up and down the aisles, falling by accident upon my book and for a few moments it is alive… but those shelves are not much gazed upon anymore. There is a feeling up front, everyone is a little embarrassed by all those books over there… arguments are always breaking out about someone jumping the line to use the computers… get the key for the public bathroom…
N A discussion among the members of the class of 44 in the Grassroots the other day: what are the things never to be done again, to be bought, to be longed for, to miss, to hope for? Never to buy a new dress suit, a white shirt, never to discuss the buying a wedding ring, listen to a parent die, never, never, ever to think today is going to mark a real change in my life, never to feel under some sort of obligation to the go to any museum …
O A scrap of paper in George’s hand: The cruelest of the bosses in the camps was Major Goranov who invented and introduced a sinister ritual. We had to line up at 4:30 AM before work. At that time he was usually awake as he had simply not gone to bed at all as he was drunk. He would step in front of us and call the chosen victim. He would hand him a small round mirror, one of these which were sold at the festivals and tell him,” Look at yourself for the last time.” At that moment this man was dead already. Goranov would give him the wooden litter and sack and instruct the Brigade leaders, “ Now you know what to do.”
P It would be convenient to return to the circle, the going about in circles and the echo within the Tohono O’odham, the circling up out of the earth to the light of day though it is probable some young man long ago realized that the reverse seemed far more likely, the fate: waiting, so patiently: how out at the Shell station in… they came in, those from out there who had been driving across the land and talking about how fortunate, how lucky to be able to be here forever.. or that couple: that old man and his young son, looking more like a grandson and the old man is trying to talk to the checkout girl asking her what is the prettiest thing to see around here.. and this in Bashas’ … and the line behind every so firmly scraping the sneakers against the floor just wanting to get into the Mars candy bar washed down with a twenty ounce bottle of Mountain Dew and then… I saw his son so embarrassed so impatient… to be getting on… but with a twinge of guilt because to get on brings him closer to have to clean out the old man’s room or house or God knows where he has ended up… some people are half way screwed into the earth and there is no way to suggest maybe it is from how you look at them as they are maybe going the other way, for all anyone really knows… give me a break… old men ain’t going but one way and so are the young people around here even if they get away…
Q Wednesday, 8 July, 1857. This morning I had the remains my mother & and of my son Waldo removed from the tomb of Mrs Ripley to my lot in "Sleepy Hollow." The sun shone brightly on the coffins, of which Waldo's was well preserved--- now of fifteen years. I ventured to look into the coffin. I gave a few white oak leaves to each coffin, after they were put in the new vault, & the vault then covered with two slabs of granite.
R Review. No quiz for sure. A journey and some travelling. A painting. Three men. My own history or at least some of it. Other voices accumulated along the way and the eye comes to a stone set in the grassy earth of Calvary in Douglas, not to be explained as the words are plain enough: OLLETHA B
Jan 11 1921 --- MAR 12 2002
MIA 1944 SAIPAN U.S. ARMY
S Satisfied by nothing, right, Karri was answering me, and they would try it, the oldest gimmick: why can’t you be satisfied, look at Jack, Bill and Harry over there, ain’t they satisfied, why can’t you be satisfied by what you have and have had and what you are likely to be getting still down the road with not a fear in the world if you compare yourself to most of the poor shlubs dragging their asses from pillar to post as again used to be said with plenty of damp spots to fall asleep on…
T Tomorrow. Put it off, put it off, if it is worth putting off today it is worth putting off tomorrow.
X The spot: …it must be admitted that normality is often a (almost unfathomably) complex state--- more complex at any rate that those forms of pathology which rest on regression and primitivization.
From “On Courage” by Heinz Kohut.
A commentary by Michael Roloff:
to report, however "normality" invariably produces a lot of wear and tear which will make for a news event of one kind or another. you generally don't need to probe too deep to find the psychotic core in just about every human being.
A reply written by the shade of Julian Green: the psychotic core you mention has another far older term: the affects of original sin---
Y Why a bit too opportunistically I should not stop with the letter ZZZZZZZ as I would not or maybe I should encourage the cartoonist in all of you to supply the sleeping figure as the head moves to desk as it falls back against the pillow on a wonderfully sunny afternoon when the street outside is quiet
There is now the turning back to the first page