• Books
  • We’re All Bozos on This Bus*

    I live with the nonchalance of the witless, clutching at unsupported convictions on matters political, religious, and social, about which we can know nothing except what we interpret from our impaired position behind the curtain, everything mediated by the brain, everything adrift in the cosmos. This dark edged sentence appeared in a recent email from […]

  • Poetry
  • Yield and Surrender

    Yet another excerpt from the interview with Ted Kooser (see the post below as well) in Guernica magazine. This one is about yield: If you can find two poems in a book, it could be a pretty good book for you. You know, two poems you really like. There are some poets who are fairly […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Drift

    We live in an age where pluralism and inclusiveness are the norm (Tea Party excluded), but disenfranchising divisions are still occurring. Music, visual art, poetry, prose, architecture—all the artistic m├ętiers have within their creative borders a whole slew of tribes that speak their own patois. Look at the language barrier that exists between two people […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Staggering Labor and Jolts of Luck

    A vacant loft in Chelsea that we just happened upon recently. Ah, the provocation of empty space. It always excites my “if only!” energy. Often discussed, but still a furtive topic: How does an artist finds his or her voice? An identifiable style, that creative stride that becomes signatory? The search for that essence is […]

  • Books
  • The Island Becoming the World

    Robinson Crusoe Island Has it happened to you yet? Have the plethora of responses to David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel, The Pale King, worn your interest thin? If yes, then this isn’t for you. I am not yet finished observing and partaking of the phenom that is DFW, of the increasingly long shadow that has […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Smee Wins Pulitzer Prize

    Sebastian Smee (Photo: Boston Globe) What great news—Sebastian Smee, art critic for the Boston Globe, has won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Hats off! Smee is the first art writer at the Globe whose opinion has mattered to me. His reviews are carefully crafted and thoughtful. And as knowledgeable as he is about contemporary art, […]

  • Poetry
  • Both/And

    Emily Dickinson wrote, “My business is circumference.” What a wonderful image and phrase, and so Dickinsonian in its simple but powerful directness. (And what a master of the small she was. She described herself as “New Englandly”—her language pared down to essentials, her verses modest in size. As Barbara Novak points out, “Modesty and understatement […]

  • Art History/Theory
  • Tracking the (American) Self

    Brace’s Rock, by Fitz Henry Lane (1863) Barbara Novak begins her book, Voyages of the Self: Pairs, Parallels and Patterns in American Art and Literature, with an exploration of the problematic concept of self: The idea of self is…an artificial construct…Yet the word is common enough even in everyday usage for a cultural community to […]

  • Aesthetics
  • What the Soft Animal Loves

    Atesse, from a recent series of paintings One aspect of having online access into every nook and cranny of the world (as well as the latest thoughts of millions of bloggers) is being able to see into the extraordinary range of human passions. I’m not referring to the largest engine of human cyber passion, pornography, […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Chihuly at the MFA

    Chihuly installation in the new courtyard of the MFA A new exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture has opened at the MFA. People who are new to his work are often full of awe and delight. I remember feeling that way too when I first encountered his wildly expressive, technically mind-boggling, larger-than-life work. There was […]