Sunday, September 19, 2010

Aimless Reading: The K's, Part 1.4 (Franz Kafka)


The Metamorphosis
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Kafka, Franz
The Metamorphosis


Not sure about this one. I have had it for a long time. It could be very old -- my first instinct was to say that I took it from my brother's shelves of required high school reading, from which I once pilfered the first books that entered my library, but something else tells me I bought for a course in college or graduate school. Anyhow, here it is, and it's the last of the Kafka on my shelves.

Feeling kind of quiet and wordless this morning, having had a whirlwind couple of days.

Will Alexander arrived Thursday night from LA by of the Motor City. Stayed up late drinking peppermint chamomile tea and talking.

Wednesday I took Will to read and talk to students at Buffalo State, then afterwards wandered across the street to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where we saw all the young artists at work penciling the amazing Sol Lewitt installation onto the walls of the stairwell and upper gallery foyer. We looked at some Warhol and some Oldenberg and some Kara Walker and some Lichtenstein. Much of the upstairs was closed off for an installation in progress. I was sad to have missed the chance to show Will the excellent Clifford Still exhibition that had just closed.

Downstairs we passed through the hall of impressionism and post-impressionism, stopping for a long time to look at the "The Old Mill," by Van Gogh, noticing how the brush strokes get finer and more detailed as they recede into the background and thicker, muddier, more vague as they move toward the fore, which creates a sort of far-sighted perspective. I hadn't though about it before, but I realized that most perspective drawings are either near-sighted, meaning that objects in the foreground are clear and detailed while those in the background are muddy and vague; or they make use of a kind of deep focus, wherein everything is clear no matter how near or far it appears to the viewer, as in Gregg Toland's cinematography in Citizen Kane.

We strolled down past the minimalists and around the corner to Rauschenberg's "Ace," which Will said he admired, despite the fact he is not usually a fan of R's work. We did get to see one Still painting. We both talked about how our admiration of Still had grown over time. Will talked about the word "lacunae," and how that seemed to him an important concept or ground or feature in Still's work.

We looked at a Rothko, we found the paper match in the Pollack, we turned around to see the one painting Will had really hoped to see, Gorky's "The Liver is a Cock's Comb." We looked at the de Kooning and I told Will about Bill Berkson's lecture on abstract expressionist brushstrokes last spring. Will asked if I had any of Bill's essays. Yes, I said, and when we got home, I lent him the collection of them titles, The Sweet Singer of Modernism.

We napped, then walked, Will and Lori and I, to Kuni's for Sushi in the evening. We ate gelato after that, then stayed up late talking on the couch.

We talked a lot about sports, mostly basketball and baseball. Will talked about working for the Lakers. I told him about my father, a basketball nut, and how he started a prestigious high school basketball tournament in DC, which still exists. We talked about LeBron and Kobe, about steroids in baseball. Will told me he works as a practice catcher for a pro-level pitcher in LA. We pet the animals. The dog and the two cats all love Will.

Saturday we drove up to Niagara falls. Will had never been there. I showed him the bench John Ashbery sat on when I'd taken him there. We walked down the steps to the Horsehoe Falls. Will was awed.

I kept trying to take pictures of Will, but the sun was hopelessly behind us. We looked at the birds and the rainbows. We walked back up the stairs and then from the Horseshoe falls to the Bridal Veil falls. I got a good shot of Will standing there, the sun shining directly in his face. We walked down stairs again to get up close to the falls. We leaned over the railing. We listened to the gorgeous loud gushing of the water against the rocks. We felt the vibrations of the gorgeous gushing.

Will talked about energy and power. We walked through throngs of plastic-poncho'd tourists to the car. Will took a photo of the Nikola Tesla statue and the old power station gate with the stone indian medallion for a keystone above its arch.

We drove home. We talked about Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston and Mike Tyson and Don King and Joyce Carol Oates and generally about boxing.

At home we made real popcorn and sat in the sun on the back patio. We talked a lot about yards and gardens and cities and animals and people. Then Will napped while Lori and I walked the dog and got ready for Big Night.

I put on my tux.

We drove to Big Night. Awesome Will helped me carry 60 plus chairs down a flight of stairs into the gallery because my volunteers couldn't make it. Awesome Will helped carry all the beer and wine and forks and knives and plates and cups down stairs for the bar because Aaron Lowinger had a bad back and was in serious pain all night. He worked hard nonetheless.

People arrived. Lots of them. They ate and drank and talked and some of them smoked outside. I introduced the evening with a lot of thank yous. Allissa Nutting read a very funny story about working as an assistant to a supermodel. We took a break. People ate and drank and smoked and talked some more. Gut Flora played a set of music using all kinds of homemade instruments like PVC didgeridoos and some regular instruments like a soprano sax and a penny whistle and a drum and they yelped and sang and clapped their hands and it was a great set.

Then Aaron and I introduced Will with three poems about the loxodrome. Awesome Will read. He talked about writing between poems. He talked about energy and power and Niagara Falls between poems. He talked about space travel and the Milky Way between poems. He talked about Roman Architecture and Jesus and Egyptian scripture between poems. He also read lots of poems, including one written in the voice of the Pope at Avignon. He finished with a section of the title poem from the Sri Lankan Loxodrome.

People clapped and cheered.

We cleaned up while Gut flora played another set. Awesome Will helped me carry the chairs back upstairs. We came home with wine and potato chips and nuts and beer and Sprite and me and Will and Lori and Geoffrey Gatza and Donna White all sat around talking. We talked some more about sports and then everyone started to yawn and we called it a night and went to sleep.

Will is just now waking up. I'll take him to the bus station in a little while. He's on his way to Cleveland, Oxford, Cincinnati, OH, then back to LA.

I will rest today, I hope. I might watch football or baseball or both. I'll walk the dog and clean up after her and feed her and pet her. Lori and I will talk about home improvement and we'll probably watch a movie later. We've been watching a lot of David Lynch for the umpteenth time lately. We'll probably watch Mad Men after we've recorded it and can skip the commercials.

I guess I wasn't as wordless as I'd feared.

2 comments:

tyrone said...

Jeeezzzz..You really do know how to take carte of a visitor! I guarantee things will be a lotless fast-/multipaced than yours...Still not sure how Will is coming down from Miami...

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

Yr a pretty good host yrself, hombre! Hope all goes well!