Posts Tagged ‘language


abstract: reflections of light from the lid of a pot on the stove

that is the reality. that is what i am telling you. of course, you may make your decisions regarding the veracity of the statement based on your own experience with the light reflected on a flat surface from the glass lid of a pot of water boiling on your stove. who am i to tell you any differently?

i’ve been reading about the emotions of pets and it got me to thinking about abstract art and the idea of removing language from the description of how an object makes you feel. that object may be a line, a color, a form that has no relationship with your language experience other than your ability to define it as a line, a color, a form. but what happens when the combination of those ideas create a feeling, an emotion inside of you? do you quickly assign a feeling to it using words from the language you’ve learned?

“that loopy line makes me feel happy.” “when i see black, it makes me feel confused.” “a triangle represents power.” can you ever divorce your intellect, your assignment of a word to an emotion and just feel? can we, as humans, experience an emotion without immediately identifying it as a word? what is the language of feelings? you know your dog is not thinking, “that feels good,” as you stroke their head, don’t you? can we do that with abstract art?

i have more questions than answers, but will consider this after more experimentation.


a week of first paragraphs–friday

“‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Taka-thun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again…’ Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.” –Salman Rushdie, “The Satanic Verses”


a week of first paragraphs–thursday

“Ennis Del Mar wakes before five, wind rocking the trailer, hissing in around the aluminum door and window frames. The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft. He gets up, scratching the grey wedge of belly and pubic hair, shuffles to the gas burner, pours leftover coffee in a chipped enamel pan; the flame swathes in blue. He turns on the tap and urinates in the sink, pulls on his shirt and jeans, his worn boots, stamping the heels against the floor to get them full on. The wind booms down the curved length of the trailer and under its roaring passage he can hear the scratching of fine gravel and sand. It could be bad on the highway with the horse trailer. He has to be packed and away from the place that morning. Again the ranch is on the market and they’ve shipped out the last of the horses, paid everybody off the day before, the owner saying, “Give em to the real estate shark, I’m out a here,” dropping the keys in Ennis’s hand. He might have to stay with his married daughter until he picks up another job, yet he is suffused with a sense of pleasure because Jack Twist was in his dream.”  –Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” (from her collection of short stories, “Close Range, Wyoming Stories”)


a week of first paragraphs–wednesday

“We’re going for a midnight boat ride. It’s a cold, clear summer night and four of us–the two boys, my dad and I–are descending the stairs that zigzag down the hill from the house to the dock. Old Boy, my dad’s dog, knows where we’re headed; he rushes down the slope beside us, looks back, snorts and tears up a bit of grass as he twirls in a circle. “What is it, Old Boy, what is it?” my father says, smiling faintly, delighted to be providing excitement for the dog, whom he always called his best friend.”  –Edmund White, “A Boy’s Own Story”


a week of first paragraphs–tuesday

“I have been here before,” I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were white with fool’s-parsley and meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, such as our climate affords once or twice a year, when leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit stone and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God; and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest.” –Evelyn Waugh, “Brideshead Revisited” (Book One, after the Prologue)


a week of first paragraphs–monday

“I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper I throw away at Washington Square Station, vault a turnstile and two flights down the iron stairs, catch an uptown A train… Young, good looking, crew cut, Ivy League, advertising exec type fruit holds the door back for me. I am evidently his idea of a character. You know the type comes on with bartenders and cab drivers, talking about right hooks and Dodgers, call teh counterman in Nedrick’s by his first name. A real asshole. And right on time this narcotics dick in a white trench coat (imagine tailing somebody in a white trench coat–trying to pass as a fag I guess) hit the platform. I can hear the way he would say it holding my outfit in his left hand, right hand on his piece: “I think you dropped something, fella.””  –William S. Burroughs, “Naked Lunch”


rosebud (rose, bud; eros dub; bro dues)

have you ever watched orson welles’s masterpiece, “citizen kane”?

that is all.

i guess i could tell you that i had to watch it maybe 80 times (alright, an exaggeration, but regardless, it was many, many, many times) when i took a film criticism course at the u of i — chicago circle campus in 197_. this then was when the ‘new’ journalism was all the rage and pauline kael, the movie critic for the new yorker was the ne plus ultra of criticism, dividing the world into those who worshipped at the end of her pen and those who would have thrown her and her ink pot on the nearest pyre and gladly struck the match to ignite the fire.

in spite of having to watch “citizen kane” a gazillion times, what did happen was that i began to understand movies in a new way; firstly, as works of art (which i hadn’t considered before then, sure they were entertainment, and yes, they told a story, but i hadn’t, in my 22 years on the planet, really thought of them as works of art until then. that doesn’t make me a bad person, does it?)

for, just as i had had to do in my french ‘explication de texte’ courses, we had to dissect every little aspect of the movie, actually dismantle it and put it back together again in order to completely inhabit the mind of its creator (shudder, orson was a man of many, shall we say, appetites); how scenes were framed, at what angle they were shot, the use of black and white, its chiaroscuro not unlike a renaissance painting by caravaggio, the foreshadowing (i’ll repeat that: the foreshadowing), the language, the grammar, the way the characters were drawn/conceived, how they interacted, archetypical symbols (my love for carl jung springs from this course of study), and on and on and on.

and then you take all of the parts, considered and parsed for meaning, and toss them all in a light vinaigrette (your perspective) and re-present them on a plate as your understanding of the film and how it affects your world (or doesn’t). “tasty, isn’t it?” you might ask (to no one in particular, it might even be sotto voce or mumbled to yourself) or you may even not think a thing about it, having thoroughly given yourself up to the experience of enjoying the work of a great artist.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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