Modern Love

Ladies’ Home Journal, 1948

And what is love? It is a doll dress’d up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, and so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long…

— Keats, Modern Love (excerpt)

Marionette

Love And A Question

cf. Home Movie

He was standing with her in the cold, looking in through a grated window at a man making bottles in a roaring furnace. It was very cold. Her face, fragrant in the cold air, was quite close to his; and suddenly he called out to the man at the furnace:

“Is the fire hot, sir?”

But the man could not hear with the noise of the furnace. It was just as well. He might have answered rudely.

— Joyce, The Dead
 

“I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

Astrophil and Stella 71: Bad Time

LIFE, 1970

Who will in fairest book of nature know
How virtue may best lodg’d in beauty be,
Let him but learn of love to read in thee,
Stella, those fair lines which true goodness show.
There shall he find all vices’ overthrow,
Not by rude force, but sweetest sovereignty
Of reason, from whose light those night-birds fly;
That inward sun in thine eyes shineth so.
And, not content to be perfection’s heir
Thyself, dost strive all minds that way to move,
Who mark in thee what is in thee most fair.
So while thy beauty draws thy heart to love,
As fast thy virtue bends that love to good:
But “Ah,” Desire still cries, “Give me some food!”

— Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella 71: “Who will in fairest book of nature know”

“Bad Time” — Grand Funk

I come in last night about half past ten…

cf. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Man sitting with dog on front porch as woman looks through door…” (between 1860 and 1930)

“Move It On Over” — George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Hyperion Summer

cf. Thomas A. Morgan, “After The Dip” (edit) (ca. 1904)

And all those acts which Deity supreme
Doth ease its heart of love in.—I am gone
Away from my own bosom: I have left
My strong identity, my real self,
Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit
Here on this spot of earth. Search, Thea, search!
Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round
Upon all space: space starr’d, and lorn of light;
Space region’d with life-air; and barren void;
Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.—
Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest
A certain shape or shadow, making way
With wings or chariot fierce to repossess
A heaven he lost erewhile…

—John Keats, Hyperion
 

“Missing” by Everything But The Girl

“fluorescence”

cf. Finnish Museum of Photography, “Osuusliike Mäki-Matin uuden liikekeskuksen ravintolasali.” (1958)

fluorescence

a long time ago
someone told me
reflected light waves travel out into space
eternally
if you turn around
from someplace far away
you will see
the past
again
eternally
now
I understand

—J.S.

“Sweet Baby” – George Duke / Stanley Clarke

“Once Again To Zelda”

Missouri Historical Society, “Capturing the City: Photographs from the Streets of St. Louis, 1900–1930 — Strand Motion Picture Theater entrance at 419 North Sixth Street featuring advertisement for the movie “Bootles’ Baby,” 1915. The large colorful poster catches the attention of the woman passing at far right.” (detail)

Darling, I’ve nearly sat it off in the Strand to-day and all because W.E. Lawrence of the Movies is your physical counter-part. So I was informed by half a dozen girls before I could slam on a hat and see for myself—He made me so homesick…

—letter from Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald, March, 1919

“What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman…”

Doug Cronk, “Supervalu Supermarket…” (1952)

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California (excerpt)

The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket

“Attention Shoppers…”

The Finnish Museum of Photography, “A customer ascending to the fabrics department of Kyminlaakso cooperative’s new department store.” (1961)

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang…

—Sonnet LXXIII

accompagnato

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Youth at a restaurant night club…” (ca. 1941)

accompagnato

Scarlatti went to dinner with
Scriabin and Rameau
and at the table next to them were
Schoenberg and Milhaud

Scarlatti sang 440 “A”
to catch the waiter’s ear
Arnold sang eleven more
and Webern drank his beer

—J.S.

F. Scott Fitzgerald — Born This Date, 1896

Esther Bubley, “Students at Woodrow Wilson High School” (1943)

…his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth — yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams. But — oh, Rosalind! Rosalind! . . .

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
 

“Time Passages” by Al Stewart

Chapter 8 (Continued)

cf. Television Commercial

“You weren’t so nice to me last night.”

“How could it have mattered then?”

Silence for a moment. Then:

“However — I want to see you.”

“I want to see you, too.”

“Suppose I don’t go to Southampton, and come into town this afternoon?”

“No — I don’t think this afternoon.”

“Very well.”

“It’s impossible this afternoon. Various ——”

We talked like that for a while, and then abruptly we weren’t talking any longer. I don’t know which of us hung up with a sharp click, but I know I didn’t care. I couldn’t have talked to her across a tea-table that day if I never talked to her again in this world.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“But then I found myself one winter afternoon remembering a quiet morning in a classroom…”

David Stroble, “Students and Teacher in a Classroom…” (ca. 1975)

But then I found myself one winter afternoon
Remembering a quiet morning in a classroom
And inventing everything again, in ordinary
Terms that seemed to comprehend a childish
Dream of love, and then the loss of love,
And all the intricate years between.

—John Koethe, “Falling Water” (excerpt)

Extraordinary

Left: H.E. Peck, “Cheer Up Lassie” (ca. 1908);
Right: H. E. Peck, “On Norway’s Coast” (ca. 1908)

The largest fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men…

—Emily Dickinson

“How is it that the clouds still hang on you?”

cf. J. Craig Annan, “Au Jardin” (ca. 1899)

A crowd will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.

—Yeats, Fallen Majesty (excerpt)

She’s a cloud
That hangs above my world…

“I refute it THUS.”

cf. Paul Stang, “Group portrait at Lushågen” (ca. 1910)

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, “I refute it THUS.”

Boswell’s Life Of Johnson

I Pretend

“The View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles” exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/11/1956

Heart, we will forget him!
You and I, to-night!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me,
That I my thoughts may dim;
Haste! lest while you’re lagging,
I may remember him!

—Emily Dickinson
 

Kim Carnes – “I Pretend”

Distant roads are calling me

John Collier, “Young man boarding train for New York state…” (1942)

Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.

When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the cagèd yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,

He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.

He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.

But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.

Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.

But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.

—Robert Frost, Wind and Window Flower

“Sure he thinks the sun shines out of your face, ma’am.”

“In the Suburbs” – On Film, Inc. (1957)

BRIGID:
(Comes towards her and leans over the back of a chair.)
Are you fretting yourself, ma’am, about anything?

BERTHA:
No, Brigid.

BRIGID:
Don’t be. He was always like that, meandering off by himself somewhere. He is a curious bird, Master Richard, and always was. Sure there isn’t a turn in him I don’t know. Are you fretting now maybe because he does be in there (pointing to the study) half the night at his books? Leave him alone. He’ll come back to you again. Sure he thinks the sun shines out of your face, ma’am.

—James Joyce, Exiles

You got that radioaction
Brighter than a sunny day…

 

12 Rods – “Radioaction”

A Season In Hell

Esther Bubley, “This boardinghouse room needs a heater in the winter and a fan in the summer” (1943)

Enough! Here’s the punishment.—Forward, march!
Ahhh! My lungs are burning, my skull roars!
Night rolls through my eyes by that sun!

—Rimbaud, A Season In Hell

The Nose

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “N.Y.C. – Bridges – Brooklyn” (1895)

As he returned, he met Madame Podtotchina with her daughter. He accosted them, and they responded very graciously. The conversation lasted a long time, during which he took more than one pinch of snuff, saying to himself, “No, you haven’t caught me yet, coquettes that you are! And as to the daughter, I shan’t marry her at all.”

After that, the Major resumed his walks on the Neffsky Avenue and his visits to the theatre as if nothing had happened. His nose also remained in its place as if it had never quitted it. From that time he was always to be seen smiling, in a good humour, and paying attentions to pretty girls…

—Nikolai Gogol, The Nose

Better forget him, him with his nose in the air…

“Thus oft the hour of parting seems more vivid than a sweet reunion”

Ernst Halberstadt, “Commonwealth Avenue between Arlington and Berkeley Streets” (1973)

The season’s final blossoms bring
More dear delight than buds of spring.
They stir in us a live communion
Of sorrowfully poignant dreams.
Thus oft the hour of parting seems
More vivid than a sweet reunion.

—Aleksandr Pushkin

“You always look so cool,” she repeated.

cf. Ide Collars Advertisement (ca. 1922)

“Who wants to go to town?” demanded Daisy insistently. Gatsby’s eyes floated toward her. “Ah,” she cried, “you look so cool.”

Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.

“You always look so cool,” she repeated.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Call out the volunteers ’cause my heart’s a flambé

Harry Wayne McMahan, “The Television Commercial” (1954)

I gotta time it right so it’s warm when you get it
Turn up the heat just a little bit higher
It was a good idea but I think I overdid it
I can’t reach the oven and the kitchen’s on fire…

 

“Burn Three Times” – Utopia

“Is it not Tennyson who has said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost…”

Lejaren à Hiller, Fatima Cigarettes advertisement (ca. 1922)

…is it not Tennyson who has said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have lost at all?

—Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

The U.S. National Archives, “A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a ‘Merry Christmas.’ The serviceman is one of those fortunate enough to be able to get home for the holidays.” (December, 1944)

 

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby

“Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

State Archives of North Carolina, “…Duplin County Schools” (ca.1949)

I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came.”

—Robert Browning, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”
 

“School Day” by Chuck Berry

“Who woo’d in haste and means to wed at leisure…”

Zaida Ben-Yusuf, “Don’t you see that you are making me a great deal of trouble?” (1902)

No shame but mine: I must, forsooth, be forced
To give my hand opposed against my heart
Unto a mad-brain rudesby full of spleen;
Who woo’d in haste and means to wed at leisure.
I told you, I, he was a frantic fool,
Hiding his bitter jests in blunt behavior:
And, to be noted for a merry man,
He’ll woo a thousand, ‘point the day of marriage,
Make feasts, invite friends, and proclaim the banns;
Yet never means to wed where he hath woo’d.
Now must the world point at poor Katharina,
And say, “Lo, there is mad Petruchio’s wife,
If it would please him come and marry her!”

The Taming of the Shrew

You can’t get off this wheel of karma

cf. D.A. Sigerist, “Two men and a woman dancing three hand reel” (ca. 1905)

LAVINIA: Stop! I want you to explain the telegram.

JULIA: Explain the telegram? What do you think, Alex?

ALEX: No, Julia, we can’t explain the telegram.

LAVINIA: I am sure that you could explain the telegram.
I don’t know why. But it seems to me that yesterday
I started some machine, that goes on working,
And I cannot stop it; no, it’s not like a machine—
Or if it’s a machine, someone else is running it.
But who? Somebody is always interfering …
I don’t feel free … and yet I started it …

–T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party

“He sees days slipping from him that were the best for what they were.”

Northeastern University Bulletin, 1976-77

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

–Robert Frost, October

Life, so they say, is but a game
And they let it slip away…

Kinderszenen

Anna Curtis Chandler & Irene F. Cypher, “Audio-Visual Techniques For Enrichment Of The Curriculum” (1948)

Kinderszenen

after school

I finished my Yodel and the telephone rang

unable to contain my excitement

I ran through backyards

until I reached her house

she lowered the tone arm

and I fell in love

–J.S.
 

Last Train To Clarksville by The Monkees

The Day I Ran The Projector

Anna Curtis Chandler & Irene F. Cypher, “Audio-visual techniques for enrichment of the curriculum” (1948)

Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun…

—Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

“No, we are all as old as we feel, but no older…”

cf. LIFE, 1968

…the sight of his own sharp features and grey hair plunged him in hopeless mortification; he made desperate efforts to recover the appearance and freshness of his youth and began paying frequent visits to the hotel barber. Enveloped in the white sheet, beneath the hands of that garrulous personage, he would lean back in the chair and look at himself in the glass with misgiving.

“Grey,” he said, with a grimace.

“Slightly,” answered the man. “Entirely due to neglect, to a lack of regard for appearances. Very natural, of course, in men of affairs, but, after all, not very sensible, for it is just such people who ought to be above vulgar prejudice in matters like these. Some folk have very strict ideas about the use of cosmetics; but they never extend them to the teeth, as they logically should. And very disgusted other people would be if they did. No, we are all as old as we feel, but no older, and grey hair can misrepresent a man worse than dyed. You, for instance, signore, have a right to your natural colour. Surely you will permit me to restore what belongs to you?”

“How?” asked Aschenbach.

For answer the talker washed his client’s hair in two waters, one clear and one dark, and lo, it was as black as in the days of his youth. He waved it with the tongs in wide, flat undulations, and stepped back to admire the effect…

—Thomas Mann, Death In Venice

“Out of the cradle endlessly rocking…”

Keystone View Company, “In Olden Times…the Stork Would Bring a Baby Sweet and Fair” (1907)

“Out of the cradle endlessly rocking…”

—Walt Whitman

Seven Thirty Seven comin’ out of the sky
Oh! Won’t you take me down to Memphis on a midnight ride,
I wanna move…

 

Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival

The Folly Of Being Comforted

cf. Home Movie

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
“Your well beloved’s hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise,
Though now it’s hard, till trouble is at an end;
And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend.”
But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain;
Time can but make her beauty over again,
Because of that great nobleness of hers;
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways,
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.
O heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head,
You’d know the folly of being comforted.

–Yeats, The Folly of Being Comforted

“Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception…”

cf. Home Movie PA 000111 and photograph by Kevin Lee via Unsplash

Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending…

–T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

“Have you noticed a change in Steve?”

Eastman Kodak Company, “How to make good movies…” (1938)

“Have you noticed a change in Steve?
Boy, I have!
Oh, It’s wonderful, I’ll tell ya!”

–Entry from girl’s diary (ca. 1961) quoted in Thomas Mallon, A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries

“Yet see in the uncertain sky above your uncertain station– the sign she left you…”

Eastman Kodak Company, “How to make good movies…” (1938)

The many faces of defeat
Invite you home:
They offer you such silence
As has no truck with time.
The face of horrid purpose,
The train of circumstance
There, the door is closed upon;
They shall no more advance.
Yet see in the uncertain sky
Above your uncertain station–
The sign she left you, passing,
Persists in affirmation.

—Ray Smith, The Sign

“So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star.”

Eastman Kodak Company, “How to make good movies…” (1938) and Timescapes 001 – YouTube

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
 

The Pursuit Of Happiness – “Pressing Lips”

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Television Commercials (1950s-1960s)

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

–T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (excerpt)

Well, I’m a bum in the sun and I’m having fun
And I know you know I got no special plans
All the bills are paid
I got it made in the shade
And all I need is the woman…

February

Ron Hoffman, Helping Hands Will Get This Skier’s Car off the Ice (1974)

Don’t think Brown ever gave up hope
Of getting home again because
He couldn’t climb that slippery slope;

Or even thought of standing there
Until the January thaw
Should take the polish off the crust.
He bowed with grace to natural law,

And then went round it on his feet,
After the manner of our stock;
Not much concerned for those to whom,
At that particular time o’clock,

It must have looked as if the course
He steered was really straight away
From that which he was headed for—
Not much concerned for them, I say:

No more so than became a man—
And politician at odd seasons.
I’ve kept Brown standing in the cold
While I invested him with reasons;

But now he snapped his eyes three times;
Then shook his lantern, saying, “Ile’s
’Bout out!” and took the long way home
By road, a matter of several miles.

–Robert Frost, Brown’s Descent, or the Willy-nilly Slide (excerpt)

Look on the map, I think we’ve been there before
Close up the doors, let’s roll once more…

“Gatsby walked over and stood beside her…”

J.B.B. Wellington, “The Toast” (ca. 1914)

Gatsby walked over and stood beside her.
“Daisy, that’s all over now,” he said earnestly. “It doesn’t matter any more. Just tell him the truth — that you never loved him — and it’s all wiped out forever.”
She looked at him blindly. “Why — how could I love him — possibly?”
“You never loved him.”
She hesitated. Her eyes fell on Jordan and me with a sort of appeal, as though she realized at last what she was doing — and as though she had never, all along, intended doing anything at all. But it was done now. It was too late.
“I never loved him,” she said, with perceptible reluctance…

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Lines on my head from that one thing she said…

 

Peter Frampton – “Lines On My Face”

“Gehen vir voinen du? In New York?”

Before her the grimy cupolas and towering square walls of the city loomed up. Above the jagged roof tops, the white smoke, whitened and suffused by the slanting sun, faded into the slots and wedges of the sky. She pressed her brow against her child’s, hushed him with whispers. This was that vast incredible land, the land of freedom, of immense opportunity, that Golden Land.
Again she tried to smile.
“Albert,” she said timidly, “Albert.”
“Hm?”
“Gehen vir voinen du? In New York?”

—Henry Roth, Call It Sleep
 


Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage (1907)

“While on the shop and street I gazed my body of a sudden blazed”

cf. Deseronto Archives, “Woman standing outside Bismark Leroy Detlor’s bake shop…” (ca. 1920)
and photograph by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.

–W. B. Yeats, “Vacillation” (IV)

“Upon the heart sorrow falls, memory’s pain, and to us, though against our very will, even in our own despite, comes wisdom”

Alan Fisher, Lou Ambers tips his hat as he accepts a sandwich from a hand reaching out of a doorway (1935)

Drop, drop—in our sleep, upon the heart
sorrow falls, memory’s pain,
and to us, though against our very will,
even in our own despite,
comes wisdom…

–Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Edith Hamilton, trans., “Three Greek Plays”)

“He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city…”

Abul Haque, “Students Arriving By School Bus…” (ca. 1976)

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

A girl comes towards you
You once used to know
You reach out your hand
But you’re all alone…

“Johnny, give up women and study mathematics.”

Esther Bubley, A geometry teacher…using a model to explain a figure (1943)

…she at last blushed, adjusted her dress, got up, and, without saying a word, went and seated herself at the window. I went to sit by her side, but she moved, sat down on a couch, got up immediately afterwards, and fanning herself as she walked about the chamber, said to me in a cold and disdainful tone of voice, “Zanetto, lascia le donne, e studia la matematica.” (“Johnny, give up women and study mathematics.”)

—Rousseau, Confessions

“Now you recall this memory as if it were someone else’s story.”

cf. The Fire Within (Le feu follet) (1963) and Home Movie: 98927: St. Croix River and 1956 Honeymoon

“Now, you recall this memory, as if
it were someone else’s story…”

—from Margo Button, “With No Explanation”

Been breaking down
Do you want me now?

“Driftwood”

At Cape Cod, August, 1969

I am scattered in a thousand places

here and there —

now and then

the wind and waves wash me ashore

ceaselessly

leaving something behind

a remindering

a finding of lost time

I never left

–J.S., “Driftwood”

The Importance of Being Earnest

cf. U.S. National Archives, Photograph of Guests at Refreshment Table… (detail) (1963)

Jack: You really love me, Gwendolen?

Gwendolen: Passionately!

Jack: Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.

Gwendolen: My own Ernest!

Jack: But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest?

Gwendolen: But your name is Ernest.

Jack: Yes, I know it is. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then?

Gwendolen: [Glibly.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.

Jack: Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don’t much care about the name of Ernest… I don’t think the name suits me at all.

Gwendolen: It suits you perfectly. It is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibrations.

Jack: Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. I think Jack, for instance, a charming name.

Gwendolen: Jack?… No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations… I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.

Jack: Gwendolen, I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once. There is no time to be lost…

–Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

“Santa Agonistes” (A True Story)

Historic American Buildings Survey, Side and front entrance, facing west – Sears Department Store…

My family arrived early.

The Christmas decorations were already up and large strands of gold were wreathed between the lamp poles in the parking lot.

The crisp December air was muted by the extravagant winter coat I was wearing.

My father put me on his shoulders.

The helicopter came into view – hovering and then slowly descending.

Through the cockpit glass I could see that something was wrong.

Murmurs ran through the crowd.

When the cabin door finally opened Santa looked very pale.

In an instant my parents and I were running wildly for our car.

As we pulled away I saw the helicopter receding into the night.

–J.S., “Santa Agonistes” (A True Story)

To the couple that were kissing at the Greyhound Bus Station, July, 1981

Charles O’Rear, “Train passengers bound for St. Louis, Missouri, board a chartered bus…” (1974)

To the couple that were kissing at the Greyhound Bus Station, July, 1981

You probably don’t remember me.

I was standing next to you waiting.

I was the guy with the guitar and the paperback copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

You’re in your late fifties or early sixties now.

You’ve been married for 35 years.

It doesn’t seem possible

Because the sun is still reflecting off the luggage compartment door

And the driver is still getting impatient

And her blonde hair is still glistening in the late afternoon haze

And I knew I was going to be late.

–J.S.

“Only when he touches earth does he, like Antaeus, recover his true strength.”

Bain News Service, “listening to records” (detail)

“Only when he touches earth does he, like Antaeus, recover his true strength.”

—Letter from Ivan Turgenev to Pavel Annenkov (referring to Tolstoy) quoted in Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars

Tom Hubbard, At the Tyler Davidson Fountain, in Fountain Square Downtown Cincinnati’s Popular Public Plaza, a Young Man Listens to the Radio with One Ear, Play of the Water with the Other (August, 1973)
 

American Top 40 Theme Music

“Milly drew the feet of water and…her companion floated off with the sense of rocking violently at her side.”

Popular Mechanics (1960)

Her situation, as such things were called, was on the grand scale; but it still was not that. It was her nature, once for all—a nature that reminded Mrs. Stringham of the term always used in the newspapers about the great new steamers, the inordinate number of “feet of water” they drew; so that if, in your little boat, you had chosen to hover and approach, you had but yourself to thank, when once motion was started, for the way the draught pulled you. Milly drew the feet of water, and odd though it might seem that a lonely girl, who was not robust and who hated sound and show, should stir the stream like a leviathan, her companion floated off with the sense of rocking violently at her side.

—Henry James, The Wings of the Dove

So I’d like to know where you got the notion
Said I’d like to know where you got the notion
To rock the boat,
Don’t rock the boat baby!

Uncle Vanya

VOITSKI: …I met her first ten years ago, at her sister’s house, when she was seventeen and I was thirty-seven. Why did I not fall in love with her then and propose to her? It would have been so easy! And now she would have been my wife. Yes, we would both have been waked tonight by the thunderstorm, and she would have been frightened, but I would have held her in my arms and whispered: “Don’t be afraid! I am here.” Oh, enchanting dream, so sweet that I laugh to think of it. [He laughs] But my God! My head reels! Why am I so old? Why won’t she understand me?…

–Anton Checkov, Uncle Vanya

And you can’t turn back
There is never any starting over
Parallel lines never do cross over…

 

in-the-garden-1200
Frau E. Nothmann, “In The Garden” (detail) (ca. 1896)

“White in the moon the long road lies”

Gertrude Kasebier, “Study Of A Boy” (1901)
and Martin-Eero Kõressaar, Eero – Reports (Night sky time-lapse compilation) – YouTube

White in the moon the long road lies,
The moon stands blank above;
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.

Still hangs the hedge without a gust,
Still, still the shadows stay:
My feet upon the moonlit dust
Pursue the ceaseless way.

The world is round, so travellers tell,
And straight though reach the track,
Trudge on, trudge on, ’twill all be well,
The way will guide one back.

But ere the circle homeward hies
Far, far must it remove:
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.

–A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad: White in the moon the long road lies

See her how she flies
Golden sails across the sky
Close enough to touch
But careful if you try
Though she looks as warm as gold
The moon’s a harsh mistress
The moon can be so cold…