O’Hara’s poem

If we look at the complete first line of O’Hara’s poem, however, it, too, undermines the apparent gentleness and even pastoral romanticism of “As I waded” with several imagistic and phonemic juxtapositions: “As I waded through inky alfalfa the sun seemed empty, a counterfeit coin hung round the blue throat patched with leprosy.” (18) The fakeness of the sun like a “counterfeit coin,” along with the “throat patched with leprosy,” sets up a counter discourse, sonically and imagistically, figuring a dis-eased relationship, hammered out in glottal stops and clipped vowels, between the speaker and the “natural” world (we remember Perloff’s apt definition of the poems as “antipastorals”). Hence Hartigan’s painterly interpretation/ infiltration of O’Hara’s image, as discussed above, reflects a deep involvement with the poem’s creative rhythms, at the same time as it questions, (re)evaluates and, in a sense, reworks the poem; Hartigan’s palette, too, plays on literal references while conveying the emotional weight and juxtapositional momentum of the poem. Another instance of this psycho-social/aesthetic dynamic: An ominous twist of yellow-orange (a hue acknowledging both the besieged bloom at bottom right and the turbid thickness of the “halo”) seems to bind one arm, while the other arm disrupts the syntax–hence the linguistic image–of the opening sentence, intruding between the subordinate and main clause, and exploding, between “alfalfa” (a kind of “fall”) and “sun,” into an ironic, empty, iconic “flower”/hand.

The sense of art as necessitated by something outside the art work itself, situated within a larger psycho-social field, recasting the work as go-between, is the socially reflexive angle of O’Hara’s landmark aesthetic statement, Personism: A Manifesto. “One of [Personism's] minimal aspects is to address itself to one person (other than the poet himself), thus evoking overtones of love without destroying love’s life-giving vulgarity, and sustaining the poet’s feelings towards the poem while preventing love from distracting him into feeling about the person.” (19)

Love for the (significant) other is displaced to the poem at the same time as the poem points outside itself to a social field; the “personalized” encoding (or encryption) of the (intimate) addressee liminally suspends the poetic consciousness while evading a (self)indulgent slip to either side. An O’Hara poem is often like a prop negotiated over by characters in a play–but we don’t know who the characters are, and what they want, exactly; language is deployed as a mask we cannot see behind. The poem occupies a liminal, strategic, and almost cryptographic position–what is “really” going on behind the “offhand”–seeming facade (indeed much of O’Hara’s poetry teases us in this way). The liminality of O’Hara’s poetry in Oranges, its inability to settle in one (interpretable) place is what keeps it vital, troubling the poems’ apparently clear surfaces; a restless energy rippling through many poems, making them, if not uninterpretable, at least undecidable. From this perspective, as opposed as O’Hara’s and Hartigan’s theories of creation ostensibly seem to be–Hartigan believing that painting is guided by a “force” from “within” and O’Hara playing language resonantly through an interpersonal space–they come together in their performance of disease, and in their use of the materiality of art (paint, language) as a way of experimenting with (culturally uncodeable, at the time) versions of self. The heterogenous territory of the poem/painting-painting/poem–not there till it happens and then only a trace–is the adequate ground for this sort of extra/intra/interpersonal exploration. “[Personism] puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages” (20)–or, we might say, sheets. (Interestingly, the “Manifesto” appears at the time that the social field itself, as Hartigan lived it, was breaking up and dispersing: a series of brief affairs and/or one night stands, real and/or imaginary; trajectories through disjunctive intimate spaces perhaps substituting for circulation within a loosely bounded community).

Wildlife Art

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“[Wildlife art is] such a popular subject that there’s room for different styles and colors within it,” says Adam Harris, curator of art for the museum.LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATIONMany artists and gallery owners have realized that certain animals are popular to specific regions.

“Trad

itionally in North America, the popular subjects have been the charismatic megafauna, bears and wolves, the huntable and watchable animals,” Wilkinson says. “The reason they’re so popular is because we still see them around.”

Artists like Craig Bone, an African artist whose largest market

is “the big five”–rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lions and leopards–has found that people who go on safaris want to bring some less-than-lifesize adventure home to remind them of their trip to Africa.

Artist Kaila Farrell-Smith has witnessed changes in the use of color and style as well t

hroughout various geographic regions and differences in culture.

“In the Southwest, bright, primary colors painted boldly on canvas are popular,” Farrell-Smith says. “So is realism. Depending on dramatic lighting, it is popular in Western galleries in Colorado and Wyoming. African wildlife art focuses heavily on pattern and bold, high contrast compositions.”

MARKET CHANGES

Gallery owners also have noticed changes in the market after specific events. Chris Knutson, owner of Art Barbarians, recognized that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States his gallery created a means for self-expression when he saw a patriotic increase in the sales of bald eagle pieces. He also noticed heightened interest in wildlife art in the weeks following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

“Right after the oil spill happened, I sold a pelican piece by Jim Hautman to a guy who wanted something on his wall to remind him of the gulf,” Knutson says.

Through and through, the wildlife art market has remained pretty successful since its takeoff back in the 1970s. “We have not really seen a downturn in business; it has remained constant over the years,” Koller says.

Although artists have many possibilities to utilize the Internet to help their businesses grow, galleries are still a significant venue in the market, especially when they put in that extra effort to grab a customer’s attention, experts say.

ENGAGING THE COLLECTOR

Many artists and gallery owners agree that selling wildlife art in galleries is all about the presentation and keeping customers interested. A piece must be properly framed and surrounded by other pieces of quality work to be appreciated. The gallery owner’s ability to make a connection between the collector and the artwork also makes all the difference in whether the collector goes wild for the piece.

In the past, Knutson has gone above and beyond to make connections between an artist and his customers. Several months after putting his gallery on the endless list of Robert Bateman’s galleries to visit, Knutson received an unexpected telephone call from “the god of wildlife art himself,” who visits eight to 10 galleries a year out of more than 2,000 requests that he receives yearly. Bate-man painted a live bald eagle named Samantha, and Art Barbarians raffled the work with $50 tickets. The result: $90,000 in proceeds that were donated to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center.

Bone has found that “as soon as you have that humanitarian connection, you have a greater following, like with work for endangered species.” Fifty to 60 percent of the owners of Bone’s work are part of a humanitarian group.

“People like to feel that connection,” says Peter Mathios, an Oregon-based wildlife artist. “The more gallery owners know the artist and are passionate about the artist’s work, the better they can sell the art.”

Mathios shares a similar experience when his work is in an auction. He makes double, and sometimes triple, his normal intake when a personal friend of his is the auctioneer.

Humanitarians and people interested in wildlife everywhere might choose to express themselves through art, especially when their purchase benefits an endangered species or raises awareness for wildlife.

Ginette Boyer, a wildlife artist based in Quebec, connects with her viewers through their senses without the need of the gallery owner to make the connection.

When viewers encounter her paintings, “people say it’s as if they can touch the animal. They’re really 3-D … The first thing I do when I start drawing [an animal] is the eyes. To me, the eye expression is the whole body,” Boyer says.

Artists who are newer to the genre, like Boyer, have realized that it can be a challenge to make work stand out and break into the market.

“Artists have been depicting these animals for 40 or 50 years; I don’t want to see just another white-tailed deer or a duck flying into a marsh,” Koller says. “I want to see something different … It’s in the category of ‘I know it when I see it.’”

IT’S A NEW WORLD

In today’s tough economy, wildlife artists are looking for new ways to sell their art, whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs and video. Knutson creatively uses social media to attract new customers to his gallery. On his website, the videos tab allows site visitors to view half-hour YouTube videos of Knutson interviewing wildlife artists whose work can be found in his gallery.

“Art is very visual,” he says. “[Video] is a great media to use in art. My goal is to document these guys, so a couple of generations from now, they’ll still have some kind of audio and video of these artists to go back to.”

Knutson says about 70 percent of his business is conducted through the website. Attracting customers and utilizing social media is critical to online business, some in the art world are finding.

“Another popular service is photo to painting, customers can send their favourate photos of wildlife to artists and they hand-painted on canvas in differnt styles” said Matt, the manager of paintmyphotos. “This method has bring many custom art orders for our wildlife artists”.

Mathios takes the blogging approach to captivate an online audience.

“I do have a blog where I post my paintings and write a little about each one,” Mathios says. “People can subscribe to receive them in their email inbox when a new one is posted. It works really well.”

Wilkinson encourages gallery owners to rethink how they’ve done business to date. “They need to think beyond their bricks-and-mortar storefront,” he says. “There are profound opportunities to reach people through the Internet.”

In the coming years, wildlife art stands to benefit from the countless opportunities that online media–much like Mother Nature itself–presents to artists, publishers and gallery owners.

“As we enter this decade that’s marked by the oil spill in the gulf, interest in wildlife art will definitely remain strong,” Harris says. “It’s a great way for people to connect with nature without having to be in nature all the time. The environment’s ever-expanding grasp on society’s attention will ensure nothing but a free-flowing fountain of youth for the future of wildlife art.”


The power of the painted word

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Chris Albisurez, a

19-year-old Guatemalan, used to spraypaint walls in Los Angeles into the wee hours of the morning until his knuckles began to bleed from scraping them against coarse, brick surfaces. The stimulants he popped plus the adrenaline rush from keeping one step ahead of the police propelled him block after

block, seeking brick and mortar canvasses for his creativity. “I couldn’t stop,” he says. “It was like an addiction.”

Tagging is an urban art form in which individuals or tagging crews spray-paint a message, usually their names, on walls in the city. Markings may resemble gang graffiti, but tagging is not tied to the territorial significance of gang symbols. For taggers like Chris, their art is a way of saying, “I exist.”

During his first two years in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, Chris’s father and uncle would not let him to go to school because they were afraid he would get into gangs. “I really wanted to meet kids my age, but my dad’s restrictions prevented me,” says Chris, who lives in Pico Union, a tough Latino ‘hood just north of South Central L.A. “I was very lonely and had so much pain in my life.” For Chris, tagging became the most important thing in life, what he lived for. “It made me feel important to have my name on walls. It was my escape,” he says. “The fear and risk of tagging numbed the pain of loneliness.” It also felt good when admiring kids found out he was “Kres,” the neighborhood tagging artist.

Then Chris’s relationship with his dad deteriorated, and he was kicked out of the house after suffering a in major beating. In the process, he came into contact with family members who took him to church, where he became a Christian. “It was Gods time for me,” he says.

Since then, Chris’s art and testimony have touched others. One such person is Jude Tiersma, a coordinator Of urban mission in the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary, and one of five middle-class whites involved in the urban ministry InnerChange who moved deliberately into Pico Union to live and serve among the poor. “When Chris first became a Christian he realized on his own that he would have to stop tagging, because it defaced other people’s property,” she says. Chris adds, “God began to heal my wounds and the loneliness that had led to tagging. God showed me a way out of the addiction.” But not without a struggle. Though he stopped taking drugs, tagging still filled an emotional need. “He was an artist in need of an outlet,” explains Jude, who began to provide plenty of paper and markers to help Chris channel his artistic urgings and emotions onto paper. This worked for a while, but Chris was restless to make a public statement about his newfound faith.

Jude and Chris together helped develop an idea for a summer project as part of an InnerChange internship whereby Chris and other teens would create a mural in a nearby dangerous alleyway used for drug dealing. After obtaining permission from the landlords, Chris first sketched out the mural on paper, then organized a team of barrio kids to do the project. “At the beginning of the summer, the cholos [gang members] jumped [mugged] me a couple of times, and I was really scared.” But as the spray-painted “Peace” took shape, some gang members asked if they could be part of the project. As then, worked together, relationships improved.

“I try to put life, the hope of God in each piece,” Chris says. “I want others to see that God is good.” He wants his art to raise hope and raise questions. “Many who see my murals do not understand the meaning. But I see it creates an opening for those who respect my art to ask me about it.” He has taken his message outside the barrio in speaking engagements at Fuller and at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where, after he depicted the rough life in the city, a student asked, “What you describe seems so bleak. Is there any hope?” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Yes there is. It’s in Jesus.” He then told the class what God had done for him.

As is typical of street art, Chris’s murals have already been covered up by the work of other artists. Chris has photographed his work and sells it on post cards and greeting cards to make some money and share his message outside Pico Union. He is also trying his hand at poetry. In a recent poem, he wrote: “The experience of every child within the city / knocking door to door / asking for forgiveness / asking for a new heart asking to be loved / Are you behind that door waiting in desperate agony / ready to welcome this child of mine and show him my salvation?”

Through the door of art, Chris has found his answer.

Wordmarket – for people who love word


Augustine’s Laws – Wordmarket

AUGUSTINE’S LAWS. By Norman R. Augustine. (Viking, $18.95.) ”Augustine’s Laws,” a hilarious, elegantly crafted book, is, at 380 pages, profoundly overlong.Norman R. Augustine, president of the Martin Marietta Corporation and former Undersecretary ofthe Army, gracefully dissects the common failings of business and government, but he should have heeded the words of Thomas Jefferson, whom he quotes in a chapter on meetings: ”No more good must be attempted than the public can bear.” His wit, however, still shines through. For example, Augustine’s Law of Propagation of Misery holds that ”if a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.” The author’s good-humored diatribe against government regulations is remarkably fresh, and it even makes a reader empathize with defense contractors.

Unfortunately, Mr. Augustine bashes Congress so frequently and exonerates defense contractors so completely that one’s sympathy is eventually dissipated. His book contains hundreds of fascinating quotations from management experts as diverse as Cicero, Francis Bacon, Lenin and Yogi Berra. The quotations help illustrate his 52 laws, as does the running story of a fictitious entity, the Daedalus Model Airplane Company which, through mismanagement, misrepresentation and greed, is transformed into Daedalus Aerospace Ltd., and is then miraculously awarded the Government contract to manufacture the stealth bomber. The account of Daedalus’s travails is extremely funny, but it leaves the reader curious about something. If, as Mr. Augustine suggests, the real defense contractors are virtually without sin, are we meant to conclude that it is the fictitious ones who cause all the trouble?

 

ABRIDGED FROM 17 MILLION WORDS

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WHY are we

being asked to read some 1,600 pages from the diary of an unknown writer? Who cares about Arthur Crew Inman? During the 1920′s he published several volumes of forgettable verse, if the excerpts he quotes in his diary are any indication. His only other career, besides a brief spell of dabbling in the

stock market with his father’s money, was to write down daily for more than 40 years every twist and turn of his experience, every tremor of consciousness. By the time of his death – he shot himself in 1963 after decades of wishing he had the courage to commit suicide – his diary ran to some 17 mil

lion words contained in 155 volumes.

It turns out that there are good reasons to contend with this book. The distillation of Inman’s sprawling opus by Daniel Aaron, a professor of English at Harvard University, shows Inman to be an exemplary sufferer, a man who traumatically crossed the b

order from a past era into our own times. He was launched suddenly from Victorian sexual repression into the freewheeling sex of the 20th century. Growing up in a well-to-do household with servants in an orderly Southern city, he ended up an underground man in a Northern city, which he experienced a

s chaotic and rapidly growing; hiding from its dazzle and commotion, he clung for security to a grotesque parody of an upper-class life. He traveled this distance in spasms of pain, about which he complained continually. He manipulated people at every turn to gratify his appetites, although he was n

ot without moments of generosity. Ridden with symptoms, Inman indulged himself furiously, yet saw himself as a perennial victim – of his well-meaning parents, his upbringing and his culture. He is not an attractive figure, but he is an oddly captivating one.

And in Mr. Aaron’s adroitly ed

ited version, Inman’s diary is a fascinating document, by turns bizarre and illuminating, poignant and obscene. It is an epic record of obsessive preoccupations and flamboyant pathologies – an idiosyncratic sexual life graphically depicted and of multitudinous aches and pains, physical, psychologica

l and spiritual. When he is not scrutinizing himself, Inman draws shrewd, incisive portraits of everyone around him and then elaborates them with the most intimate, often malicious revelations. The cast of characters – flappers and con artists, truck drivers and chorus girls, Southern cotton brokers

and Northern lawyers, college students and matrons, adulterous osteopaths and evil-eyed psychiatrists, actresses and prizefighters – is worthy of a German Expressionist painting. Above all, there are women of every age and type, in costume and in various states of undress. Right-wing political spee

ches, wildly racist, frequently heating up to the point of tantrum, burst forth amid all the personal material. And as if to calm himself, Inman sets down just about everything that happened in American social, political, economic and cultural history from the end of World War I to the early 60′s.
Delving into Inman’s diary is like being able to eavesdrop on the conversation in a priest’s confessional or a psychotherapist’s office. You see what outwardly respectable people have been doing behind closed doors; Inman plucks all their skeletons out of the closets and parades them before our eyes against a backdrop of news bulletins and editorial commentary on world events, political elections, changing styles and fashions.

But what kind of book is this? At the very least, it’s of considerable clinical interest; one could hardly hope to find a more unusual or thoroughgoing case history. It also presents the social historian with a panorama of the 20th century viewed from an exotic angle. Is it a work of literature as well? Mr. Aaron ponders the question in his introduction and concludes that Inman’s diary might be, among other things, a nonfiction novel, although ultimately ”too huge and amorphous to classify.” I agree with the last part of the assessment, but I don’t see much that is novelistic. The diary displays little discernible narrative structure or application of other formal principles of fiction. And although Inman’s writing often has descriptive power – landscapes lyrically rendered, epigrammatic characterizations of individuals – his prose at its worst sinks to the level of an off-color gossip column. Nevertheless, I think the diary has to be taken seriously as a work in which the case history used to study psychopathology intersects with darker themes of literary modernism, reflecting social dislocation, moral confusion, and struggles with self-definition. In this sense, Inman’s diary has the flavor if not the shape of a modern novel.

Born in Atlanta in 1895, the only child of a prominent family of cotton merchants, Inman grew up in a large, comfortable house in the city, surrounded by relatives and servants. He spent happy summers with his family in Maine. Judging from his vivid recollections, his early childhood was rather pleasant and ordinary, except for what seems to have been an unusual vulnerability to headaches and other physical afflic-tions. Even the latter, however, is not enough to account for the extravagant symptoms or peculiar design of his later life.

Things began to sour when Inman turned 13. His parents sent him north to a private school in Haverford, Pa., where he felt disoriented and miserable. His life improved when he entered Haverford College, but he never forgave his parents for sending him away in the first place. They dealt him a second unforgivable blow, as he tells it, by pumping him full of their attitudes toward sex. On the way to the train back to school after Christmas vacation, his father warned him that if he masturbated, he would wind up in the madhouse, a prospect that Inman took to heart and tortured himself with. In other words, Inman received a typical late-Victorian sexual education.

Of his mother he wrote bitterly, ”She mixed me up at times as to whether I were I or she were I.” When she died in 1933, he expressed relief because she was ”a too-heavy moral tail to my kite of life.” He considered his father, who lived nearly as long as he did, ”the man I hate and pity, cringe before and rail against.” Yet he never severed his emotional or financial ties to these two. Perhaps this dependence was his revenge. He reminds me of a patient in a therapy group I conducted who looked around at the rest of the members during the first session and said, quite spontaneously, ”I’m going to depend on all of you – out of spite.” HALFWAY through college, Inman suffered a nervous collapse. It was as though his entire body went awry. He ended up in Boston for medical treatment and never left. From that time on he spent the better part of his waking hours in a completely darkened room in a Back Bay residential hotel because he could no longer tolerate light. Through newspaper advertisements for ”talkers” and ”readers,” as he called them – men and women he hired to run his household, serve as an extension of his eyesight, provide a substitute for social contact by telling him their life stories and drive him around so he could peer at the world through the windows of an automobile -Inman created his own miniature society, an entangled coterie that he controlled by keeping its members emotionally as well as financially dependent on him. As the diary grew to play a more and more significant role in Inman’s aspirations, he came to think of the people he endlessly recruited as ”diary-fodder.”

Modern sex caught up with him not long after he had the breakdown and moved to Boston, and he wasted no time catching up with it. From the women among his talkers and readers, Inman was able to obtain with surprising ease the languorous, exploratory sex he came to favor. He also followed avidly their erotic intrigues and marital problems, frequently acting as a go-between in the dramas of their lives. Once in a while he tried to remake their personalities.

In 1923 he married Evelyn

Yates, a Wellesley College graduate, whom he alternately raged at and idolized for the next 40 years.

She seemed to be remarkably without jealousy and allowed him to go on with his numerous sexual investigations. As a result, the diary is an archive of information about American sexual habits during the 20th century, drawn both from Inman’s own experience and from what his ”talkers” told him. There is a charming early section in which the girlfriend of one of his employees describes in a kind of working-class mystical poetry what an orgasm feels like to an eagerly attentive Inman, who has not yet had one. ”When you were a kid did you ever get shocked by one of those little electric batteries they used to fool you with? That was the way it felt,” she told him as he scrupulously wrote it down; ”you don’t care what happens.”

His life was full of contradictory impulses. He cloaked himself in darkness, sealed himself off from society, but his activities made him the subject of widespread rumor, so much so that he was often forced to negotiate his way out of scandal. Like a mole, he couldn’t stand the light of day, the brightness of the present moment, yet his diary is filled with brilliantly lighted landscapes and sharply perceived sketches of individual personalities. In fact, Inman’s best writing is based in descriptive imagery. His visual recall of childhood borders on the uncanny, as though he could retrieve every particle and spore of early experience. O NCE he gave up poetry, Inman chose to embody his literary aspirations in a medium most people regard as intensely private. He makes it clear that he is writing to show himself to the world. His diary is a monologue before a prospective audience, which he increasingly pleads with and to which he explains himself and apologizes. The complete honesty he demands of himself is admirable, but it is also an act of total self-display. Over the years Inman dreams more and more of his diary as becoming a pathway to literary glory. As Freud was first to point out, behind every peeping Tom there lurks a flasher.

Without reducing the pain in his eyes, his migraine headaches, gastrointestinal problems, back trouble and aching limbs entirely to psychology, one could say that Inman’s vast array of ailments reflects Freud’s idea that a healthy person feels his emotions, whereas the neurotic feels his body. Inman himself was convinced that all his problems stemmed from a defect of the bones, exacerbated by the strain of coping with his parents and school. Though his parents urged him to see a psychiatrist, he refused, placing his hopes in the osteopaths who treated him for the rest of his life.

However, neither organic nor conventional psychological diagnoses go far enough to explain Inman’s originality in the fashioning of symptoms. The whole panoply of Victorian neurotic behaviors can be found in the diary – hysterical outbursts and self-dramatizations, neurasthenic withdrawals, paranoid terrors, obsessive-compulsive fretfulness and insistence on precise routines. But on other counts Inman doesn’t fit the mold. The neurotic burns with unfulfilled desires and usually doesn’t know it; Inman gratified every erotic whim. The curiosity of the typical neurotic personality is blanked out or constricted; Inman was openly and avidly curious. The neurotic’s symptoms tend to be limited and specific; Inman’s entire way of life seems like a symptom. If Inman was suffering from some peculiar neurotic disorder, it was on a grand scale – an ontological neurosis, so to speak, a hysteria of being.

But even examined as case history, Inman’s life points beyond itself to an important cultural transition – from the classical neurotic types who blossomed in Victorian times to the existential character disorders that seem to be replacing them in our day, according to the latest psychoanalytic literature. Inman’s symptoms seem almost arbitrary, lacking in causality. Despite his bitterness toward his parents and school, there is no sequence of abuse, no crippling trauma set forth in the diary that lives up to Inman’s imagination. His strangeness exists on another level, transcending even his struggle with his father, a famous developmental battle that orthodox psychoanalysis has told us implants the limitations of social reality in the boy’s soul. It might be that Inman’s life looks forward to the end of the Oedipus complex and thus the shaping of individual personality as we have come to understand it. If so, literature anticipated this change long before psychology, which has barely begun to understand it. Perhaps only a literary diagnosis would be encompassing enough to comprehend Inman’s uniqueness. Reading him is like watching the well-defined lineaments of characters in Victorian novels blur into the modern alienated antihero.

For example, between worries about a pending landslide for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Presidential election of 1932, bouts of bedding Flossie Bert (one of his hired women, whose heavy sexual response he found unsettling as well as exciting) and his ever-present longing for suicide, Inman announced, ”I am a shell, a bluff, a walking shadow.” In another passage of the diary, he wishes both his own parents and his wife’s would die and leave him their money before it was too late to enjoy it. Then he asks, ”After such a confession, do you find me repellent, sordid, amusing in a reverse sort of way? I shall never know. But, reader, I do not want to lose your affection or your respect. . . . Do not esteem me less now that I have written truth in black and white.”

Certainly those passages sound familiar to any reader of modern fiction from Dostoyevsky’s ”Notes From the Underground” to Ralph Ellison’s ”Invisible Man,” from the so-called black humor novel to the minimalist, entropy-ridden stories of Samuel Beckett. This is the voice of the underground man, defined by Irving Howe in an essay on Celine as ”a creature of the city,” who ”lives in holes and crevices, burrowing beneath the visible structure of society . . . recognizable through his unwavering rejection of official humanity.” He is the modern literary hero, often appearing in the guises of criminal, madman, victim or sensitive soul yearning for love, walking at the thin edge where culture drops off into the abyss. He tells us his forbidden thoughts and outrageous deeds as though his confessions might make us aware that all our social arrangements for meaning and security are dangerously precarious. I

* HAD a patient once, a failed painter, who told me she could no longer work at her craft because she found it ”disturbing” to see anything sharply. Perhaps, like this woman, Inman’s inability to stay in the light bears out the early psychoanalyst Hanns Sachs’ maxim that ”the difficulty is not how to understand beauty, but how to be able to stand it.” Inman experienced light as pain, maybe even as pure anxiety. When he collapsed at college, light seemed to blast his whole being, as though he had just emerged from Plato’s cave.

If you think of an allergy as an exquisite sensitivity to some portion of the environment, you could say Inman was allergic to light, or even to life. But he was also an infinitely curious man. Out of his painful retreat he designed an almost completely vicarious life, a life that dissolved into literature and took the form of his massive diary. To experience and record became indistinguishable. Thus Arthur Inman was in some sense the absolute literary man, although a highly uneven writer. He was the ultimate bystander, a random man who lived unmediated by necessity, a voyeur in the dark. At last, even writing it all down in his room with the curtains drawn no longer provided enough relief from the glare of the human condition. He pulled the revolver that he had kept nearby for years from its hiding place in order to extinguish the light once and for all.

A ‘READER’ REBELS

August 9 [1930] Millicent came to read to me. . . . Her eyebrows are to all intents invisible. Her eyes are an unpleasant blue with red-rimmed eyelids. Her nose is coarse and her mouth stamped with passion-indulgence. She looks, in all, hard. Yet despite her face I have grown to love her. She has a pleasant voice with a lilting quality in it. She seems genuinely fond of me, listens to my troubles, tells me her secrets, calls me motherly ”dear.” Being of an affectionate disposition, I have for many months caressed Millicent. Her skin is soft and I am fond of her. Last night, she broke out suddenly with, ”For Pete’s sake, Arthur, quit pawing me. If there’s anything I hate, it’s to be pawed. There’s only one man in the world I like to have handle me – and that’s not you.” I felt as though suddenly a mask had been ripped from something I had treasured as beautiful. ”Very well, Millicent,” I said, and I suppose I sounded as small as I felt and as hurt, ”I won’t paw you any more. I don’t think there was any need to be so cruelly blunt, was there? I’m sorry.” ”Oh Lord,” she observed, ”now I suppose you’ve gone and got your feelings hurt. There’s no need of that. If I didn’t feel about you as I do you can well believe it would have been hands off long ago. I get as much as I can stand, and then I can’t stand any more. That’s all.” She laid her head on my arm. I didn’t budge. ”I’m sorry,” she said. ”That’s all right,” I said. But I knew it wasn’t, and she knew. It certainly did hurt. I wish I wasn’t what Millicent calls ”so gosh-darned sensitive.” Are other people so sensitive to rebuke? It will be, I fear, a long time before I ”paw” Millicent again. – From ”The Inman Diary.”

CAPTION(S):

Photo of Arthur Inman, 1939

By Michael Vincent Miller; Michael Vincent Miller is a psychologist and psychotherapist who practices in the Boston area and in New York City.


More and Less

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The reason why i love canvas art with quotes is that it alsways add an encouraging statement to wall and keep reminding you what is important in life. Sometimes, we may forget our dreams while time goes by, and sometimes we may lost in life. Keep these words in mind and make your life on the right way. You can also get these quotes on canvas and hang on your walls so as