Shelter in place has now lasted nearly four months. I’ve been writing on some stories, though not as much as I might normally do. And taking photos. And I’ve painting, much more than usual…thirteen canvases since the pandemic kicked in. Check out the Notes on my Paintings page if you want to read about the five new paintings shown in today’s post.
Also I’ve been reading lots and lots of Kindle books. When I remember to, I highlight passages in the Kindle books I read. And then it’s possible to export the highlighted phrases into a document. So…for today’s post we’ll have photos, paintings, and quotes from the books I’ve been reading.
A word of caution, for those of you not familiar with my posting style. Generally there are no planned specific connections between the text fragments and the images. I collage them in at random, working rapidly, just being sure not to have overly similar images right next to each other.
I’m a firm believer in the Surrealist principle that Anything goes with Anything. Often, but not always, there will seem to be some synchronistic connection between an image and the text next to it. But I didn’t design it that way. That’s just the cosmos at work. Dancing with us.
“With My Friends” acrylic on canvas, May, 2020, 24” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.
WOLFBANE by Fredrik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
“All that Tropile knew was that, for the first time in nearly a year, he had succeeded in catching each stage of the nine perfect states of water-coming-to-a-boil in its purest form. It was like … like … well, it was like nothing that anyone but a Water Watcher could understand. He observed. He appreciated. He encompassed and absorbed the myriad subtle perfections of time, of shifting transparency, of sound, of distribution of ebulliency, of the faint, faint odor of steam. Complete, Glenn Tropile relaxed all his limbs and let his chin rest on his breast-bone. He was the water boiling … and the boiling water was he. He was the gentle warmth of the fire, which was—which was, yes, itself the arc of the sky. As each thing was each other thing; water was fire, and fire air; Tropile was the first simmering bubble and the full roll of Well-aged Water was Self, was—more than Self—was— The answer to the unanswerable question was coming clearer and softer to him. And then, all at once, but not suddenly, for there was no time, it was not close—it was.”
Ginger root like a raygun.
“It was Tropile, all right staring with concentrated, oyster-eyed gaze at the fire and the little pot of water it boiled. Staring. Meditating. And over his head, like flawed glass in a pane, was the thing Haendl feared most of all things on Earth. It was an Eye. Tropile was on the very verge of being Translated … whatever that was.”
V. by Thomas Pynchon
“The laugh could only have come from Profane’s onetime shipmate, Pig Bodine. Profane looked round. It had. Hyeugh, hyeugh approximates a laugh formed by putting the tonguetip under the top central incisors and squeezing guttural sounds out of the throat. It was, as Pig intended, horribly obscene.”
Abandoned building, 1324 Church St., Lynchburg, VA, where I rented a room 82-86 and wrote four books, including WETWARE
“Was it home, the mercury-lit street? Was he returning like the elephant to his graveyard, to lie down and soon become ivory in whose bulk slept, latent, exquisite shapes of chessmen, backscratchers, hollow open-work Chinese spheres nested one inside the other? … But elephants have souls. Anything that can get drunk, he reasoned, must have some soul. Perhaps this is all soul means.”
“Con Edison had just shut off the electricity so all they had to look at each other by was one gas burner on the stove, which bloomed in a blue and yellow minaret, making the faces masks, their eyes expressionless sheets of light.”
“Low places in the square filled, the usual random sets of crisscrossing concentric circles moved across them. Near eight o’clock, the rain slackened off.”
“Magnetic Fields of the Milky Way Galaxy” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 24” x 18”. Click for a larger version of the painting.
TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck
“I remembered how once, in that part of youth that is deeply concerned with death, I wanted to be buried on this peak where without eyes I could see everything I knew and loved, for in those days there was no world beyond the mountains. And I remembered how intensely I felt about my interment. It is strange and perhaps fortunate that when one’s time grows nearer one’s interest in it flags as death becomes a fact rather than a pageantry.”
“I discovered long ago in collecting and classifying marine animals that what I found was closely intermeshed with how I felt at the moment. External reality has a way of being not so external after all.”
No-parking cone that someone threw off the bridge into the creek where I like to walk.
“The pointers came to the wire mesh of the kennel, wriggling like happy snakes and sneezing with enthusiasm,”
“Pop’s Pipes” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting.
THE COUNTRY GIRLS by Edna O’Brien
“We sat, huddled over the fire, and talked, the way women who like each other can talk once the men are out of sight.”
“The sky is always blue in California, a piercing blue, and the pavements hot, and the tanned, predatory faces booming out their hearty nothings. I like rain and isolation…”
Mysterious, intriguing, Point Sur.
“The smile was nice, and I moved nearer and touched with my cheek the cloth of his gray, hairy overcoat.”
Above Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz.
“The music still reminded me of birds, birds wheeling out of a bush and startling the mellow hush of a summer evening; crows above an old slate quarry at home, multiplied by their own shadows, screaming and cawing incessantly.”
“It was getting dark and the air was full of those soft noises that come at evening—cows lowing, the trees rustling, the hens wandering around, crowing happily, availing themselves of the last few minutes before being shut up for the night.”
[Gunnar Vatvedt, hiking up Lexington Creek with me.]
“I suppose up to the time people die you think their lives will improve, or you’ll get on better with them, but once they’re dead you know neither thing is possible.”
“…a cramped restaurant with atrocious masks on the wall, and high stools that made no allowance for the small of the back.”
“Bicyclist” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 24” x 18”. Click for a larger version of the painting.
SIXTH COLUMN by Robert A. Heinlein
“General field theory predicts the possibility of at least three more entire spectra. You see, there are three types of energy fields known to exist in space: electric, magnetic, and gravitic or gravitational. Light, X-rays, all such radiations, are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Theory indicates the possibility of analogous spectra between magnetic and gravitic, between electric and gravitic, and finally, a three-phase type between electric-magnetic-gravitic fields. Each type would constitute a complete new spectrum, a total of three new fields of learning.”
Looking put at Washington Square from inside St. Peter & Paul Church, SF
“—I can do simple algebra, and I’ve had some calculus, though I haven’t used it for years, but I couldn’t make sense out of this stuff. It looked like Sanskrit; most of the signs were different and even the old ones didn’t seem to mean the same things. Look—I thought that a times b always equaled b times a. —Doesn’t it? —Not when these boys get through kicking it around.”
“Sometimes finds even the blind hand an acorn.”
“He encountered them proceeding down the main passage toward the laboratories. They had an enormous granite boulder. Scheer was supporting it clear of walls and floor by means of tractors and pressors generated by a portable Ledbetter projector strapped as a pack on his shoulders. Wilkie had tied a line around the great chunk of rock and was leading it as if it were a cow.”
SELECTED STORIES, 1968-1994 by Alice Munro
“I believed that writers were calm, sad people, knowing too much. I believed that there was a difference about them, some hard and shining, rare intimidating quality they had from the beginning..,”
GAUDY NIGHT, by Dorothy L. Sayers
“If only one could come back to this quiet place [Oxford], where only intellectual achievement counted; if one could work here steadily and obscurely at some close-knit piece of reasoning, undistracted and uncorrupted by agents, contracts, publishers, blurb-writers, interviewers, fan-mail, autograph-hunters, notoriety-hunters, and competitors; abolishing personal contacts, personal spites, personal jealousies…”
“Now we can get rid of this filthy old bombazine and show off our party frocks. “
“—She was frightfully sentimental inside, you know. — I know. She wormed round rather.”
“—Who mentioned Planck’s constant a little time ago? —I did, and I’m sorry for it. I call it a revolting little object.”
“—Isn’t the writing of good prose an emotional excitement? —Yes, of course it is. At least, when you get the thing dead right and know it’s dead right, there’s no excitement like it. It’s marvellous. It makes you feel like God on the Seventh Day, for a bit, anyhow.’”
“ ‘Are you writing any more books?’ Suppressing the rage that this question always rouses in a professional writer, Harriet admitted that she was. ‘It must be splendid to be able to write,’ said Mr. Arbuthnot. ‘I often think I could spin a good yarn myself if I had the brains. About the odd things that happen, you know. Queer deals, and that kind of thing.’”
“,,,punts and canoes, new-fettled for the summer term, began to put forth upon the Cherwell like the varnished buds upon the horse-chestnut tree…”
Chaotic tree shadows in Lexington Creek.
“Great golden phrases, rising from nothing and leading to nothing, swam up out of her dreaming mind like the huge, sluggish carp in the cool water of Mercury. One day she climbed up Shotover and sat looking over the spires of the city, deep-down, fathom-drowned, striking from the round bowl of the river-basin, improbably remote and lovely as the towers of Tir-nan-Og beneath the green sea-rollers, [and she reached] that still centre where the spinning world Sleeps on its axis…”
“She had got her mood on to paper—and this is the release that all writers, even the feeblest, seek for as men seek for love; and, having found it, they doze off happily into dreams and trouble their heads no further.”
Live chairs talking to each other. “This table’s taken.”
“It was wonderful to stand so above the world, with a sea of sound below and an ocean of air above, all mankind shrunk to the proportions of an ant-heap.”
“The storm held off till after Hall, except for threatenings and grumblings of thunder. At 10 o’clock the first great flash went across the sky like a searchlight, picking out roof and tree-top violet-blue against the blackness, and followed by a clap that shook the walls. Harriet flung her window open and leaned out. There was a sweet smell of approaching rain. Another flash and crash; a swift gust of wind; and then the swish and rush of falling water, the gurgle of overflowing gutters, and peace.”
Sketch of Lord Peter Wimsy. “He was a colourless shrimp of a child, very restless and mischievous, and always much too sharp for his age.”
“Leaving Earth” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.
CONSIDER PHLEBAS by Iain M. Banks
“I would prefer, though, if you called me by my name, and not just by that word you manage to make sound like an expletive: machine. I am called Unaha-Closp. Is it asking too much for you to address me as such?”
New edition of my art book!