Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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July 03, 2007
islands vs. bridges

"Say it! No ideas but in things.":

Williams' favorite answer, after lectures when questioners asked him what he meant by certain passages or poems, consisted of repeating the story of the rich woman at the [Charles] Daniel    Gallery who, about to buy an expensive painting, paused for a moment, walked away from it, approached it and said, finally,

'But, Mr. [Alanson] Hartpence, what is all that down in the left hand lower corner?'

Hartpence came up close and carefully inspected the area mentioned.

Then, after further consideration, 'That, Madam,' said he, 'is paint.'
quoted by Hyatt H. Waggoner (former prez of the Kansas ADA during the McCarthy    era) in his v. interesting (if limited) American Poets: From the Puritans to the Present

"I do not believe in things, I believe only in their relationships.":
[This sentence

["Je ne crois pas aux choses, je ne crois qu'à leurs relations."]

is ID'd as the "Structuralist Credo" by Gérard Genette in a footnote to his v. wonderful (i.e., it includes mention of vertigo, masks & boredom, etc.) 1999 Style essay about Valéry, findable here.]

If one is involved with a complicated idea, and spends every day with it, takes notes, and reads selectively with it in mind, ramifications proliferate.

If one has what could be called an obsessional wish to exhaust an idea, understand it on six, seven, or eight levels, the book gets longer and longer.

William Gaddis, in an interview excerpt that certainly seems to jump out at people, as here and here

[update 12/4/07:

A fascinating recontextualization of the above so-called "Structuralist credo" -- attibuted to Georges Braque -- now comes to our attention, via John Golding's belatedly discovered NYRB review of Alex Danchev's new Braque bio.

Golding writes:

[P]ossibly the most important to an understanding of Braque's philosophy in his later years, and hence to the formation of his late manner and aesthetic, was his discovery of the sages and mystics of the East: Lao Tzu, Confucius, Milarepa. He denied being influenced by Zen Buddhism but, perhaps unconsciously, it is there.

To celebrate the liberation of Paris, he gave a copy of Zen in the Art of Archery to Henri Cartier-Bresson, who acknowledges that it had a profound effect on him.

Toward the end of his life Braque seemed to show these Eastern influences in his own thinking. "You see I have made a great discovery," he said.
I no longer believe in anything. Objects don't exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them or between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence -- what I can only describe as a state of peace -- which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry.

Emphasis supplied.

The hidden roots or parallels in Eastern thought of structuralism?]