Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Living the Predicament

"After great pain a formal feeling comes." - Emily Dickinson
A dying Tony Judt quoted Dickinson, and it was picked up in David Wootton's TLS review of the BBC radio series, A History of the World in 100 Objects. He defines formal feeling as "a sense that, just as every word in a poem has its place, so history is not merely a record of destruction and death, but something to which we can, in some puzzling fashion, give meaning." Earlier, he writes, "Finding our place doesn't only mean finding where we come from, or who we are. It means working out how to live the predicament of life." I'm still working it out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Painting's Journey


 Harriet Backer, "Blue Room," National Gallery, Oslo
"Art itself often contributes to our tendency to put what we see into words."
While in Oslo in the early spring of 1997, I spent three consecutive days at the National Gallery - a pilgrimage I've made episodically over the years when visiting my family there. Returning to Berkeley, I wrote a short essay on what I saw. I found it recently and took another look at it. The essay, now a bit longer, is posted in the archive of my website.