I'm back from Boone, infused with a ghost limb of Magritte, and his wonderful hanky-panky with objects. So bear with, and let me skid out of control for one moment only, by telling you Jerry Seinfeld's father's favorite joke:
A man falls out of a window and is laid out on the sidewalk. Another man (with or without his bowler hat) rushes up to him and asks, "What happened?"
"I don't know," the first man answers. "I just got here myself."
My talk at the Turchin Center went well. A few people, or maybe many, gathered under one roof, curious to see each other and to hear about Magritte. The talk was followed by a student performance of a play written by Barry Kornhauser, and put on by ASU's Department of Theatre and Dance, called "This Is Not a Pipe Dream," inspired by Magritte's paintings and done mostly in slapstick pantomime, with totally amazing sets derived from Magritte's images. Afterwards, someone gave me Belgian chocolate and a bottle of French wine as a present. I came home a very happy camper. I should also mention the congratulations I received from friends there at being able to spend two entire days without mentioning politics or the Iraq war once.
A few hours later, back in Blacksburg, I attended the art opening of my Australian friend, Simone Patterson, who teaches digital art at VA Tech and who is smart like a fox when it comes to anything relating to computers. It would not have seemed credible to me before attending this show that I could have a major art experience--fizzy and gorgeous and laden with soul--done with computers! But there you have it: I was WRONG. I always like it when I am wrong, because it usually means something thrillingly unexpected has happened. A group of photos she'd taken of women friends with their dogs, and then mysteriously transformed, like some medieval alchemist, into exquisite painterly portraits, even made me wish I had a dog. Then I, too, might just have been part of this Busby Berkeley spectacle.
I've had this book called "The Night Sky" for a few years now, actually since the spring of 2005 since it still contains a handwritten note from the editor at Viking Press saying, "We thought you might find this of interest."
Today, wanting something fruity and inspiring, something a little different with which to round off this blog, I was magically summoned to pick up this book and read it for the first time. The author is an American poet, Ann Lauterbach, who was a friend of mine during the 1970s when we were both expats, living in London. So here I am today, still knocking somewhat blindly at the door of creativity, looking for a full-scale celebration, and along comes my old friend, proposing 13 topic sentences to be used as possible opening remarks at a party in which everyone is wearing the same black dress (SBD), but with different accessories, of course. I offer you a selection of my four favorites:
2. "It has pretty much come to this."
4. "You put on an ornate ball gown
You say 'someone has to do it' "
6. "And you've been here before?"
12. "If necessary a prosthesis could be fashioned out of lime, hair, and dung."
So, Viva the spirit of Magritte! It sure beats the Iraqi refugee problem and Hilary talking about "When (not if) I'm President." As one Himalayan master said: "No matter where you live, live cheerfully. This is the mantra. Be cheerful at all times, even if you are behind bars. Anywhere you live, create heaven there. Remember, cheerfulness is of your own making. It only requires human effort. You have to create cheerfulness for yourself."
You can't say I'm not trying.