Sunday, November 29, 2015

Not My Own, Not Private, But Idaho

Mighty Reader and I spent the High Holy Day of Pilgrims in Idaho, eating a whole lot of excellent food with some wholly excellent people. Thanks awfully, Excellent People, for feeding us and helping us drink all that boose we bought. Thanks also to Trip Taylor, for having his excellent book store open on Friday. We buy books wherever we travel, and Taylor's selection has never disappointed us. This visit's treasures:
  • Heinrich Boll: Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum
  • Isak Dinesen: Seven Gothic Tales
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Sonnets From the Portuguese
  • Virginia Woolf: Jacob's Room
I took the whole of last week off from work, actually, and yet I did not manage to write the one long chapter of my novel-in-progress that I thought I'd write. Instead, I played a lot of violin (Bach and Monti and some gypsy stuff, in case you wonder), got a haircut, flew twice over the mountains and drank all that boose mentioned above. I also discovered that the page numbers in the index to my 1934 Modern Library edition of Bulfinch's Mythology do not in fact match the text. I can't believe that in all these years, I haven't used the index, but there you have it.


photo credit: Miss Tilman

20 comments:

  1. I hope you have enjoyed your pre-winter excursion to Idaho. And your gift of the lovely picture suggests a reciprocal gift from Emily Dickinson:

    Snow beneath whose chilly softness
    Some that never lay
    Make their first Repose this Winter
    I admonish Thee

    Blanket Wealthier the Neighbor
    We so new bestow
    Than thine acclimated Creature
    Wilt Thou, Austere Snow?

    And best wishes from R.T. at Beyond Eastrod, where today is a celebration of Mark Twain's birthday. Cheers!

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    1. I will probably not make my final repose beneath snow, but it's a pretty idea. I like a proper winter landscape; that's one thing I miss, living in Seattle.

      I hope you had as fine a Thanksgiving as Miss Tilman and I had!

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  2. every body needs a vacation: "the world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers... the big B, of course. nice to have a bit of bach; i do some on the guitar, enthusiastically if incompetently occasionally...

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    1. I have reached that point in life when, whenever I return to work from vacation, the first thing that occurs to me is that I need to take a vacation. So I guess I agree with Wordsworth, and I should spend more time staring at the sea and the hills. The sea, maybe, in the spring.

      Bach is hard, even the simplest pieces. He's always in motion, and so free with his use of chromatic notes. The integrity of the motive is always more important than the integrity of the tonality. He's a chainsaw moving through the key signature. Great stuff. I'm working on the first three movements of the D minor Partita, the easy movements. The big chaconne is still beyond me.

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    2. i was a classical clarinet player in my youth(played in "la symphonica de la noroeste" in mexico, so when i retired i took up the guitar. ha, what a joke: old fingers definitely lost fluidity and the instrument is a whole lot more difficult than i ever thought. still, i get some fun out of banging on it from time to time...

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    3. I have a Fender Telecaster that I sometimes plug in, turn up and force to play primitive prog-rock blues. Every year about this time I tell myself I'll buy a proper nylon string guitar and a copy of Carcassi's method, but I don't do it. I'd love to be able to play flamenco, have a decent rasgueado and just hammer away in E Phrygian all day.

      Clarinet! There's all that lovely Classical and Romantic repertoire for clarinet. Not to mention Benny Goodman.

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    4. brings back memories; unfortunately i haven't touched it in forty years... i like carcassi: fun to massacre one of his etudes occasionally.

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  3. Knee up, black clothes against white background: very Caspar David Friedrich. I hope that is the route to the bookstore.

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    1. You must be thinking of "Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer." I'd never heard of Herr Friedrich until your comment, but some of those paintings (ta awfully, Google) are pretty good. Sadly, the foreshortening in the photo hides the steepness of the hillside. More sadly, that is not the way to the bookstore. The bookstore is roughly directly behind me, back in town. Still, deer tracks in the snow, hawks prowling low from tree to tree, white-crowned sparrows shaking the underbrush: a pretty nice walk.

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    2. stunning work! "woman with raven at the abyss": like chinese pictures of mountains...

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    3. The hill looks steep in spite of foreshortening. On the subject of not writing a chapter of your book, did you see the interview with Josipovici in Numero Cinq? He talks about the problems he's had with some of his work.

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    4. "Artists are the saints of our day, no? Surely, they argue by their choices, life is in the end about something other than money and status, life is a quest, a puzzle and a gift. On the other hand there is something ridiculous about this stance. Something quixotic. For already in the early seventeenth century Cervantes sensed that the dedicated life was an absurdity, whether that life was passed in dedication to God or to knight errantry or to the writing of books. I think that is one reason why I write novels and not critical books about Bonnard, Duchamp etc. Because fiction can show up the absurdity, even the self-delusion (Infinity), or the costs to others (Contre-Jour) of the obsessive artistic life, as well as its wonder and glory. That’s the beauty of art, of fiction, that it can accept and reveal complexity, even contradiction, and leave you simply pondering how life is."

      Yes, then. Thanks for linking to that interview (and for all the other marvelous stuff in your sidebar). In the book I'm writing now (and I'm halfway through that previously unwritten chapter, thankfully), I am letting myself break a few of the rules I've set for myself.

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  4. Yes, I think of Caspar David Friedrich too. I was in love with his paintings as a teen, and I still enjoy seeing them. Of the four books on your buyer's list, I see only one that is a reread for me: Dinesen.

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    1. I keep telling myself that I will start re-reading books, because to read a second or third time is to really start to see the work. And then I see all these other books I haven't read yet, and off I go. I'm like a man shaking hands with everyone in a huge crowd instead of going out for dinner with one or two of them. They are all worth meeting, but how many will I ever really know? It's a puzzler, what to do. I console myself with the knowledge that in the end, it doesn't really matter how much or how well I've read.

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    2. same here. i find myself reading more and more sci fi and mysteries instead of the stuff i really SHOULD be reading, but then i realize in ten years(if i'm lucky) it won't matter anyhow...

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  5. Oh yes *that* guy with "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog." But it's really the Shipton cover that I think of (http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0740/8383/products/that-untraveled-world-an-autobiography-by-eric-shipton_1024x1024.jpg?v=1433868180)

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    1. Biro has a first name! I had no idea.

      I like that hat.

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  6. I like the photo; it's three-quarters of the way to a Wyeth painting.

    I regret that I didn't have time to translate anything for German Literature Month after all. However, I did resume my German lessons after a six-month hiatus, and my teacher and I read the Grimms' (rather easy) "Schneewittchen" together, so I suppose I participated nonetheless...

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    1. During the summer, that field is very like a Wyeth painting. I'll try to find some of the photos we took a couple of years back, with windswept grasses and scrub brush of all shades of graygreen.

      I thought I was going to write something more about Katz und Maus, a great book, but I've discovered that it's quite a difficult task for me. I read the book in German, which was fine (though Grass' prose is more ornate and figurative than the German I'm used to reading so it was some slow going for me a lot of the time (and there were passages in a Polish/German dialect that took some figuring, and a good bit of slang)). I am much more facile at reading German than writing it, so it would be a job of work to put together a post in German. If I write it in English, I'd have to translate passages from German, and I don't so much trust myself as being able to get the flavor of the writing. It's some tricky.

      Say, Loren Eaton is putting on his annual "Advent Ghosts" storytelling event again this year. You should get involved in that.

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    2. Genau, ich lese besser als ich schreibe.

      And dang—you know, after I missed "Advent Ghosts" a year or two ago, I came up with a good idea—which I promptly forgot. I'll have to dig through my notes and see if I can recall what it was.

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