japonisme: 5/17/09 - 5/24/09

22 May 2009

mood indigo


From the porch; from the hayrick where her prickled
brothers hid and chortled and slurped into their young pink
lungs the ash-blond dusty air that lay above the bales

like low clouds; and from the squeak and suck
of the well-pump and from the glove of rust it implied
on her hand; from the dress parade of clothes

in her mothproofed closet; from her tiny Philco
with its cracked speaker and Sunday litany
(Nick Carter, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Sky King);

from the loosening bud of her body; from hunger,
as they say, and from reading; from the finger
she used to dial her own number; from the dark

loam of the harrowed fields and from the very sky;
it came from everywhere. Which is to say it was
always there, and that it came from nowhere.

It evaporated with the dew, and at dusk when dark
spread in the sky like water in a blotter, it spread, too,
but it came back and curdled with milk and stung

with nettles. It was in the bleat of the lamb, the way
a clapper is in a bell, and in the raucous, scratchy
gossip of the crows. It walked with her to school and lay

with her to sleep and at last she was pleased.
If she were to sew, she would prick her finger with it.
If she were to bake, it would linger in the kitchen

like an odor snarled in the deepest folds of childhood.
It became her dead pet, her lost love, the baby sister
blue and dead at birth, the chill headwaters of the river

that purled and meandered and ran and ran until
it issued into her, as into a sea, and then she was its
and it was wholly hers. She kept to her room, as we

learned to say, but now and then she'd come down
and pass through the kitchen, and the screen door
would close behind her with no more sound than

an envelope being sealed, and she'd walk for hours
in the fields like a lithe blue rain, and end up
in the barn, and one of us would go and bring her in.

(1970) William Matthews

American illustrator, painter, and printmaker Campbell Grant was born in 1909. After grad- uation from Oakland High School, he entered the California College of Arts and Crafts. In 1930 he received a scholarship to attend the Santa Barbara School of the Arts where he learned the techniques of color woodcut from Frank Morley Fletcher.

Following his studies at Santa Barbara, he spent twelve years in Hollywood at Walt Disney Studios as a story director and animator. Campbell exhibited with the Painters and Sculptors of Los Angeles in 1934 and the Public Works of Art Project that same year. 1 Allen W. Seaby was also a student of Frank Morley Fletcher.
blue apple pie

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20 May 2009

little red blue

for even more intrigue, listen up

>'Dragnet' opening theme<
NARRATOR: The story of Little Blue Riding Hood is true. Only the color has been changed to prevent an investigation.
>'Dragnet' opening music<
JOE (voice-over): This is the woods. My name is Wednesday, I work outa' homicide. Monday, February the 2nd, 10:22am. Bumped into Chicken Lickin'.
Told me the sky was falling. I booked her on a 614, turned her over to the psychiatrists. Then a call came in on a 503. When I was on my way to the 503 a 618 came in. I added up the 614, the 503 and the 618. Got 1735. I handed in my paper to the Chief, he corrected it, gave me 100%, patted me on the head. Told me I was a good cop.
>dramatic music<
JOE (voice-over): 11:45am, it happened. I saw a little girl in a blue hood carrying a basket. I stopped to question her.
JOE: Pardon me, ma'am, could I talk to you for just a minute, ma'am?
LITTLE BLUE: What about?
JOE: Nothing much, ma'am. Just wanna' ask you a few questions, ma'am. What's your name?
LITTLE BLUE: Little Blue Riding Hood.
JOE: Where ya' going, ma'am?
LITTLE BLUE: Grandma's house.
JOE: Yes, ma'am. Whad'ya got in the basket?
LITTLE BLUE (defensively): Whad'ya trying to say, I got something in the basket I shouldn't have?
JOE: No, ma'am, I didn't say that.
LITTLE BLUE: Then whad'ya asking me all these questions for?
JOE: Just routine, ma'am, we just wanna' get the facts. May I have a look in that basket, ma'am?
LITTLE BLUE: Be my guest.
JOE: Let's see. Sawed-off shotgun. Knife. Bludgeon. Box of dumdum shells. Nothing suspicious here. All right, ma'am, we may want to talk to you later, so don't leave the woods.
>dramatic music<
JOE (voice-over): She skipped on down the path. But she didn't know I'd seen the concealed compartment in the basket. In it, what I'd suspected all along -- goodies.
>dramatic music<
JOE (voice-over): My job -- get to grandma's before she did. I took a shortcut through the strawberry patch. It was sort of a strawberry shortcut.
>sound of walking<
JOE (voice-over): I walked up to the cottage, rang the bell.
>door bell<
GRANDMA: Coming, dear.
>door opens<
JOE: OK, grandma, it's a raid.
GRANDMA (acting surprised): A raid? Why, I'm just a peace-loving old lady, you've got the wrong grandma.
JOE: Yes, ma'am. We just wanna' get the facts. Where'd you get that bump on your head?
GRANDMA: The sky fell on me this morning.
>dramatic music<
JOE (voice-over): I made a note to book her on a 614 and turn her over to the psychiatrists. I tied her up, put her in the closet, then I put on the grandma suit and got into bed.
>knock on door<
JOE (making no attempt to disguise his voice): Come in, ma'am.
>door opens<
LITTLE BLUE: Hello, gramma, I got the loot. What're you doin' in bed?
JOE: I'm feeling poorly.
LITTLE BLUE: But gramma, what big ears you have!
JOE: All the better to get the facts. I just wanna' get the facts, ma'am.
LITTLE BLUE: But gramma, what a big subpoena you have in your pocket!
JOE: All the better to serve you with.
LITTLE BLUE: But gramma, what a big .38 police special you have pointed at me!
JOE: All the better to take you in. You're under arrest. You and your grandma are operating a goodies ring.
LITTLE BLUE (sadly): A cop. I shoulda' known.
JOE: Known what, ma'am?
LITTLE BLUE (sadly): You look nothing like my gramma. You forgot about the mustache.
JOE: But I don't have a mustache.
LITTLE BLUE: I know. But gramma does.
>dramatic music<
FRANK: Well, I see you broke the goodies ring. How'd you get a lead on 'er, Joe?
JOE: I just played a hunch, Frank. It was just a hunch. I played my luck; sometimes a hunch pays off, sometimes it doesn't, I was just lucky, I just played a hunch, Frank.
FRANK: What you're trying to say, Joe, is you just played a hunch. A lucky guess. Sometimes a hunch pays off, sometimes it doesn't. You just played a hunch. Is that what you're trying to tell me, Joe?
JOE: Yeah. I just played a hunch.
>'Dragnet' end music<

Stan Freberg 1953 1

(and don't miss tex avery's little hot riding hood!)

and all this silliness is dedicated to yoli

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19 May 2009

across coveted lands

Tamara Platonovna Karsavina, one of the greatest dancers of the Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev, was born in St. Petersburg on March 10, 1885, the daughter of dancer Platon Karsavin. Tamara became a legend in her own life time. Her technical perfection, wit, rare intelligence, and deep feeling made her a prima ballerina for all times. 1

A whole day was spent in preparing for the journey, and when November 4th came, shortly before mid- night my provisions were packed upon my camels, with an extra load of fowls and one of fruit, while on the hump of the last camel of my caravan were perched, in a wooden box made comfortable with straw and cotton-wool, two pretty Persian kittens, aged respectively three weeks and four weeks, which I had purchased in Kerman, and which, as we shall see, lived through a great many adventures and sufferings, and actually reached London safe and sound, proving themselves to be the most wonderful and agreeable little travelling companions imaginable. One was christened "Kerman," the other "Zeris." 2 --A. HENRY SAVAGE LANDOR 1902

" ... the camera was carried on my way to work. Over the harbour in the ferry. Through the streets of Sydney with its old build- ings and its everyday scenes of life and bustle. By sunshine, in the rain and through fogs and mists!" 3 --Harold Cazneaux,
letter to Jack Cato, ca. 1920

From a Poem written to Mercedes de Acosta by Isadora Duncan in 1927, (quoted by Hugo Vickers in "Loving Garbo")

....A slender body, hands soft and white
For the service of my delight.
Two sprouting breasts
Round and sweet
Invite my hungry mouth to eat.
From whence two nipples firm and pink
Persuade my thirsty soul to drink
And lower still a secret place
Where I'd fain hide my loving face....." 4

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17 May 2009

the galliano epic

while jean paul gaultier took inspiration from mucha in the past, it was the showy, the theatrical side of his work. in his fall, 2009, RTW collection, john galliano explores mucha's slavic roots.

mucha's slavic roots are being explored in a synchronistic manner around the world just now. there's galliano in paris, the first major mucha exhibition being held in vienna, and a fair amount of interest around the blogosphere.

the golden age of comic book stories blog presents mucha's slavic epic from the 1900 universal exhibition in paris. this is the same installation that is appearing in vienna. it fascinates me to watch poetry being translated into poetry.

olga's abc gallery offers a stunning selection of mucha's work, and susanna's sketchbook is filled with wonder upon wonder.

[Mucha} spent many years working on what he considered his fine art master- piece, The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech and the Slavic peoples in general, bestowed to the city of Prague in 1928.

He had dreamt of completing a series such as this, a cele- bration of Slavic history, since he was young. Since 1963 the series has been on display in the chateau at Moravský Krumlov. 1

though mucha died of a nazi interro- gation, john galliano keeps him flourishing, as does the mucha museum in prague, and its related foundation, and the comprehensive compendium on the slav epic which is here.

the press may have labeled galliano's collection 'slav chic,' and perhaps that's all it is. but culture moves in mysterious ways... someone goes to mucha, his stories... and the journey of truth marches on.

what do they say to you?

and how do you re- spond?

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bear with me

what began as a medi- tation on solitude ends up here, and well it should. are not all and every religion extant for that simple struggle -- spirit v. body, buddha v. animal, love versus fear? is not every philosophy and psychology aimed at that one struggle which may bring happiness? the only road to peace?

utagawa kuniyoshi, while an astonishing master of design, also knew of this inextricable pairing. though his humanimals were particularly clever ways to 'stick it to the man,' filling in for courtesan, actor, or former ruler when these were banned from from being seen in ukiyo-e. in the brilliant kuniyoshi project, the cats, fish, and sparrows are given names, whom they represent.

but kuniyoshi also knew, clearly, was that the man and his counterpart were not actually that far apart. alternate evolutions. birds of a feather flock together.

back when i was first exploring all this, i realized i had within me two polarbears, locked in the eternal embrace of war. no one would ever win. that struggle was life, for every one of us.

delmore schwartz
seems to agree with me:


“the withness of the body”

The heavy bear who goes with me,

A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side,
that heavy animal,

That heavy bear
who sleeps with me,

Howls in his sleep
for a world of sugar,

A sweetness intimate
as the water’s clasp,

Howls in his sleep
because the tight-rope

Trembles and shows
the darkness beneath.

—The strutting show-off
is terrified,

Dressed in his dress-suit,
bulging his pants,

Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,

Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit’s motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

Delmore Schwartz

“The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me”
from Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge.
Copyright © 1967 by Delmore Schwartz.

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