Thanksgiving Is Ruined
January 24, 2008
do believe i'm failing stronger every day
from Harold Rosenberg's essay "De Kooning: Painting Is a Way," in The Anxious Object:
Painting the "Woman" was a mistake. It could not be done. Esthetically, the canvas is an inadequate expression of the artist's experience and intention. Something similar has been said of Hamlet.
Where did Melville say this, exactly? I wonder.
There do seem to be Melville's words from Mardi: and a Voyage Thither (1849):
better to sink in boundless deeps, than float on vulgar shoals; and give me, ye gods, an utter wreck, if wreck I do.
His words there presaged by 1.35 centuries Beckett's Worstward Ho (.pdf) -- and its well-circulated excerpt, the last 6 wds being O they of many a would-be corporate cafeteria motivational poster and cubicle wall, but not so clear and clap-happy in the original:
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
The logic here would seem to point towards a practice of increasingly self-aware and intentional failures
(hint: Rosenberg, at one point in his essay, calls each of de Kooning's paintings a "hypothesis"), though, presumably, the more surprising and temporarily puzzling to the failor, the more interesting and better
There's no success like it, indeed.