Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

21 June 2010

Read, Read, Read Part IV

Still reading. I am doing about 125 pages a day at this point, which is pretty much exactly what my schedule needs to be right now. Since the last time I posted about this, I have read:

A very old collection of plays by the Symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck, which included Alladine and Palomides, Pélléas and Mélisande, and The Death of Tintagiles.

Philip Massinger's Jacobean Orientalist fantasy The Renegado or The Gentleman of Venice (I am, as you can probably tell, fairly obsessed with this new Arden Early Modern Drama series of editions.)

Paul Gilroy's 'There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack': the Cultural Politics of Race and Nation

Foucault's Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977-1978, which I didn't like quite as much as the previous year's, but which I found illuminating all the same.

Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa's awesome collection of essays and poems This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color

and today I finished a volume edited by Roger Shattuck of the Selected Writings of Guillaume Apollinaire, the rest of whose work I feel compelled to read immediately. (I will not, of course. I have plenty of reading that I need to without giving myself new tasks.)

19 June 2010

Apollinaire ...and Death

Some fabulous excerpts from Guillaume Apollinaire for this sunny Saturday. I will be very brief. This is from "La Bestiaire (The Bestiary)":
Lovely days, the mice of time,
You slowly gnaw my life away.
O God! I shall be twenty-eight,
Years poorly spent, I am afraid.

As an elephant grows ivory
I bear in my mouth a precious gift.
O purple death!... I buy my fame
At the expense of tuneful words.
Another. This is from "Le Pont Mirabeau":
Love leaves us like this flowing stream
Love flows away
How slow life is and mild
And oh how hope can suddenly run wild
And perhaps my favorite couple of phrases that I've read so far are from "Les Fiançailles (Betrothals)":
I have had the courage to look behind me
At the corpses of my days
Which strew my path and I mourn them
Forgive my ignorance
Forgive me for no longer knowing the old game of riming
I know nothing any more and I can only love
It will not, I suppose, surprise those of you who know me that I am thinking about my friend Andrew as I read Apollinaire's words today. He was twenty-eight when he died last year around this time.

I have been thinking a lot about death lately, to be totally honest. I have only told a couple of people about this, but death feels very present to me just now. I am positive that I know why this is.

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time reading about Modernist artists—Stephane Mallarmé, Maurice Maeterlinck, Apollinaire, Alfred Jarry, Erik Satie, Henri Rousseau, Rachilde, Paul Fort, Lugné-Poe, Joséphin Péladan—and, well, all of these men and women are dead. (I am going to move forward to the Dadas quite soon, and, of course, all of them will be dead, as well.) It feels odd to me to spend so much time with the dead. Perhaps, too, it is that their art—the art of the Parisian avant-garde—is so personal, so bound up with their actual lives, that makes their deaths seem so present. And so I think about mortality: about my own of course, but mostly about mortality in general. There is a mourning, I think, that I am doing, for these artists for whom I have such affection, these artists whom I study so carefully but whom I never met.

04 June 2010

Read, Read, Read Part III

Hey all! Since the last time I posted about reading for my comprehensive exams, I took a quick trip to California and Big Bear Lake to officiate at the wedding of my very dear friends Danny and Ashley who run The Improv Space in Westwood, CA. The wedding was my first time officiating and it was a total blast—not the least because I got to spend the weekend with some of my best friends in the world. And then the weekend was punctuated with a fabulous backyard party that included a wedding ceremony and lots of crying. So much fun!

Anyway, since last time, I've read:Beaumont & Fletcher's Philaster or Love Lies a-Bleeding (this is part of my Early Modern English Drama list),

Mark Evans' book on Jacques Copeau,

Roger Shattuck's history book The Banquet Years: the Origins of the Avant-garde in France, 1885 to World War I,

Sigmund Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, and I finally finished

Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish in its entirety.