Saturday, April 19, 2014

Material and what you make of it

This is another of those desert scenes from our ramblings across the American West. I have thought it would make a fine painting, and I mean to try that. I see the lilac undershadow on the clouds and the yellow tips on the rabbitbrush just coming into bloom. The cloud shapes and the varying sizes of the clumps of brush, the horizontal sweep of the mountains and the road. Tonight I have been reading a book of the letters between Gabriele Munter and Wassily Kandinsky. The book is called Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Munter; letters and reminiscences,  1902-1914, Prestel Verlag, Munich, 1994. I have never been a big fan of Kandinsky, although the rest of the Blue Rider guys are great! And now I am less than a fan of the man Kandinsky, but you will have to read the book yourself and make up your own mind. Maybe I am too harsh. And, on the basis of what I have seen, I like Munter's paintings very much. They have a simplified and colorful beauty that is very compelling.

Here is a link to Kandinsky's painting of Munter at work. 

And here are the things that people have put on Pinterest that show her paintings.

And here are some self-portraits by Munter,

Some people felt that what Kandinsky and Munter and the rest of the Blue Riger gang was doing was not really painting, but something closer to the crayon drawings of children.. Some people say there is no such thing as prose poetry; it is either poetry or not and one can tell! But this prose poem by Mary Ruefle that I found tonight in the Best American Poetry 2013 pleased me very much. I think I will find her book of them.

Little Golf Pencil

At headquarters they asked me for something dry and understated. Mary, they said, it’s called a statement. They took me out back to a courtyard where they always ate lunch and showed me a little tree that was, sadly, dying. Something with four legs had eaten it rather badly. Don’t over-emote, they said. I promised I wouldn’t but I was thinking to myself that the something-with-four-legs had certainly over-emoted and that the tree, in response, was over-emoting now, being in the strange little position of dying. All the cops were sitting around eating sandwich halves and offered me one. This one’s delicious, said a lieutenant, my wife made it. Seeing as it was peanut butter and jelly I thought he was over-emoting, but I didn’t say anything. I just sat looking at the tree and eating my sandwich half. When I was ready I asked for a pencil and they gave me one of those little golf pencils. I didn’t say anything about that, either. I just wrote my statement and handed it over—it was a description of the tree which they intended to give to their captain as a Christmas present—I mean my description—because the captain, well, he loved that tree and he loved my writing and every one of the cops hoped to be promoted in the captain’s heart and, who knows, maybe get a raise. Still, after all that sitting around in the courtyard eating sandwich halves, I had a nice feeling of sharing, so when they asked me if I had anything else to say I told them that in the beginning you understand the world but not yourself, and when you finally understand yourself you no longer understand the world. They seemed satisfied with that. Cops, they’re all so young.

--Mary Ruefle

Now go and write a little story like that! You won't need to worry (this time) about lineation or rhyme. Sleep well. 

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