more on Symbols and Truth here
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
In a poem
but even more
they want something
easy to swallow-
not unlike a suddenly
in an otherwise
difficult and sometimes dissonant
even if it is only
for the moment
of hearing it.
from Blue Horses,
“When called on to discuss his life [Charles ‘Sparky’ Schulz] never began at the beginning, never with his birth on November 26, 1922, or his early years, but always with his mother’s death on March 1, 1943, his own departure for the war, and the merciless speed of it all: in that week, Dena Halverson Schulz had died on a Monday, she was buried Friday, and by Saturday the army had taken him away. …
“As early as his sophomore year in high school, Sparky had come home to a bedridden mother. Some evenings she had been too ill to put food on the table; some nights he had been awakened by her cries of pain. But no one spoke directly about the affliction; only Sparky’s father and his mother’s trusted sister Marion knew its source; they would not identify it as cancer in Sparky’s presence until after it had reached its fourth and final stage — in November 1942, the same month he was drafted.
“On February 28, 1943, with a day pass from Fort Snelling, Sparky returned from his army barracks to his mother’s bedside. … She was turned away from him in her bed against the wall, opposite the windows that overlooked the street. [Late that evening] he said he guessed it was time to go.
” ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I suppose we should say good- bye.’
“She turned her gaze as best she could. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘good-bye, Sparky. We’ll probably never see each other again.’
“Later, he said, ‘I’ll never get over that scene as long as I live,’ and indeed he could not, down to his own dying day. It was certainly the worst night of his life, the night of ‘my greatest tragedy’ — which he repeatedly put into the terms of his passionate sense of unfulfillment that his mother ‘never had the opportunity to see me get anything published.’ ”
from Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. Charles Schulz, creator, author and illustrator of the cartoon strip Peanuts for nearly fifty years
Meantime that question of things existing only in one’s head may still be troubling me slightly, to tell the truth.
Basically this is because it has just now come to mind that the fire I am perhaps going to build at the garbage disposal area, in order to watch it glisten on the broken bottles, is something else that exists only in my head.
Except that in this case it is something that exists in my head even though I have not yet built the fire.
In fact it exists in my head even if I may possibly never build the fire.
Moreover, what is really in my head is not the fire either, but that painting by Van Gogh of the fire.
Which is to say the painting by Van Gogh that one can see if one squints just a little. With all of those swirls, as in The Starry Night
And with anxiety in it, even.
Even if a certain amount of the anxiety may be simply over the likelihood that the painting will not sell, of course.
Although as a matter of fact what has now suddenly happened is that I am not actually seeing the painting itself, but am seeing a reproduction of the painting.
In addition to which the reproduction even has a caption, which says that the painting is called The Broken Bottles.
And is in the Uffizi.
Now obviously there is no painting by Van Gogh called The Broken Bottles in the Uffizi.
There is no painting by Van Gogh called The Broken Bottles anywhere, in fact, including even in my head, since as I have said what is in my head is only a reproduction of the painting.
I suspect I am getting mixed up.
All I had started to say, I think, is that I am seeing a painting that Van Gogh did not paint, and which has now become a reproduction of that painting, and which to begin with is of a fire that I myself have not built.
Although what I have entirely left out is that the painting is not actually of the fire either, but of a reflection of the fire.
So in other words what I am ultimately seeing is not only a painting which is not a real painting but is only a reproduction, but which is also a painting of a fire which is not a real fire but is only a reflection.
On top of which the reproduction is hardly a real reproduction itself, being only in my head, just as the reflection is not a real reflection for the same reason.
No wonder Cezanne once said that Van Gogh painted like a madman.
At this rate the next thing I am going to ask is if my roses will still be red after it gets dark.
On second thought I am not going to ask if my roses will still be red after it gets dark.
Or even if Cezanne ever happened to talk to anybody about Van Gogh personally, before he said that.
Which would naturally make his insight rather less than memorable, if he had.
I mean if Gauguin had taken Cezanne off into a corner somewhere and muttered a thing or two, for instance.
Or if Dostoievski did.
The dog which would not stay off Emily Brontë’s bed was named Keeper, incidentally.
And the way Euripides was said to have died was by having been attacked by dogs, in fact, although I mention this only because of having mentioned Aeschylus and the eagle.
But what this reminds me of is that how Helen died, according to one old legend, was by being hanged from a tree, by jealous women.
Then again, another story insisted that she and Achilles became lovers, and lived forever on a magic island.
Although the identical story was sometimes told about Medea and Achilles.
Well, doubtless both of those stories arose because people were distressed at the notion of Achilles being left in Hades, as when Odysseus visits him there, in the Odyssey.
This does not occur until after Achilles is killed by Paris, of course, by being struck in the heel with an arrow.
In fact Paris himself has gone to Mount Ida to die by then, as well, because of still another arrow.
Even if one is forced to read books by people with names like Dictys of Crete, or Dares the Phrygian, or Quintus from Smyrna, to learn such things, since the Iliad does not go that far.
I dropped the pages from those books into the fire after reading the reverse sides of each too, as I recall.
In the Louvre, this would have been, which is perhaps three bridges away from the Pont Neuf.
Once, that same winter, I signed a mirror. In one of the women’s rooms, with a lipstick.
Standing near me is a tall woman in a dark red dress. She has a dazed, rather blank expression on her face. She might be drugged, or this is simply her habitual expression. I am a little afraid of her. A red snake in front of me rears up and threatens me, at the same time changing form once or twice, acquiring tentacles like a squid, etc. Behind it is a large puddle of water in the middle of a broad path. To protect me from the snake, the woman in the red dress lays three broad-brimmed red hats down on the surface of the puddle of water. Lydia Davis, The Woman in Red, Dream
Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for the unknown God. Then if a bird sing among your branches, do not be too eager to tame it. If you are conscious of something new — thought or feeling — wakening in the depths of your being — do not be in a hurry to let in light upon it, to look at it; let the springing germ have the protection of being forgotten, hedge it round with quiet, and do not break in upon its darkness; let it take shape and grow, and not a word of your happiness to any one! Sacred work of nature as it is, all conception should be enwrapped by the triple veil of modesty, silence, and night.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel’s words in his Journal Intime