“Does the past live with me alone?”

Nationaal Archief, “Presents at the top of a car” (detail)

His Notebooks, increasingly filled with intricate technical speculations on science and theology, lose much of their intimacy. But, at least until 1820, they are also far less painful and unhappy, apart from the occasional visitation of the ghosts and wolves of memory and loss.

In December 1816, after a long metaphysical speculation on “the three Protoplasms, or primary Forms” of Gravity, Light and Water, he suddenly stopped short and wrote:

“ASRA. Written as of yore. Christmas 1816. ASRA. Does the Past live with me alone? Coleridge.”

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

This Shirt

recurring scenario

Ernst Halberstadt, “Elevated Railroad Structure…” (1973)

A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression.

— Samuel Johnson, Prayers and Meditations

70’s Scenario

“What is wrong with woollen gloves?”

cf. photograph by Joshua Coleman via Unsplash (edit)

The possibility of having [Ulysses] published in a more regular way came up again in June 1918, when Roger Fry suggested Miss Weaver call on Leonard and Virginia Woolf to induce them to publish the book at their new Hogarth Press. Virginia Woolf noted in her diary the incongruous appearance of Miss Weaver as the ‘buttoned-up’ and woollen-gloved missionary for a book that ‘reeled with indecency.’*

*Miss Weaver, when the passage was quoted to her, demanded with acerbity, ‘What is wrong with woollen gloves?’

— Richard Ellmann, James Joyce
 

“(Shine Your) Light Love Hope” by Bob Mould

Livin’ It Up

Photograph by Paul Trienekens via Unsplash

“My sister is in the country. I have a house all to myself, wear no clothes, take 10 big baths a day, & dine on lemonade and ice-cream…”

—Letter from Henry James to his London publisher quoted in Jean Strouse, Alice James: A Biography

“Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” – Bell And James

“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

“At The College Art Gallery, October, 1981”

cf. Home Movie (1947)

at the college art gallery, october, 1981

the ultrablue sunset sky
radiated around the white church spire
I walked into the art gallery
because I was a romantic
fair creature of an hour
was looking at chippendale furniture
but I shall never look upon thee more
my footfalls echoed around decorative arts
down the passage which I did not take
another door was opening
into another rose-garden
this fire is now my quarry
vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore

—J.S.

“You must tell me something that you are sure is true”

William Strode, “Magazines And Newspapers Litter The Intersection Of Sixth & Broadway…” (1972)

You must tell me something that you are sure is true —
I don’t care much what it may be, I will take your word for it.
Things get into a muddle with me…

—Mary Temple, letter to John C. Gray

Through The Fire

I go on my way to-night, If I can; if not, to-morrow; emigrant train ten to fourteen days’ journey; warranted extreme discomfort…
I have been steadily drenched for twenty-four hours; water-proof wet through; immortal spirit fitfully blinking up in spite…
I am not beaten yet, though disappointed. If I am, it’s for good this time; you know what “for good” means in my vocabulary— something inside of 12 months perhaps; but who knows? At least, if I fail in my great purpose, I shall see some wild life in the West and visit both Florida and Labrador ere I return. But I don’t yet know if I have the courage to stick to life without it. Man, I was sick, sick, sick of this last year.

—Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Sidney Colvin (on board s.s. “Devonia,” an hour or two out of New York, August, 1879)
 

“Through The Fire” by Chaka Khan

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

“Summer in Style” exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 17, 1960

“…her daughter senior is I think beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange…”

—First mention of Fanny Brawne by John Keats (letter to George Keats, December 16, 1818)

“Lastly, dance records were put in…”

LIFE, 1972

Lastly, dance records were put in. There were specimens of the new imported dance, the tango, calculated to make a Viennese waltz sound sedate and grandfatherly by contrast. Two couples displayed the fashionable steps. Behrens having by now withdrawn, with the admonition that a needle should be used no more than once, and the whole instrument handled “as though it were made of eggs.” Hans Castorp took his place as operator…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 

Indeep – “Last Night A Dj Saved My Life”

“You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”

cf. photograph by Alice Moore via Unsplash

“You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”

—Proust, Swann’s Way

Quote

“Portraits” (V-VIII)

“Portraits” (V-VIII)

V
(John Keats)

The thought of her
in that darkest winter
fevered torment
but your eternal summer
will not fade

VI
(Jane Dornacker)

You did not know me
but I was always listening
and when I lost you
I pulled my car over to the side of the road
and prayed

VII
(Hans Castorp)

As Spender said of Eliot,
A wonderful poet disguised as a businessman.
Just ask Clavdia.

VIII
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

A romantic resting against a mantelpiece clock.
You were right, Scott—
the past is forever.

—J.S.

Quote

“Portraits” (I-IV)

“Portraits” (I-IV)

I
(Van Temple)

I saw you singing that song again
and I thought of art
burning like a flame
through time and tide
and I was driving with the radio on
again

II
(Arland D. Williams Jr.)

When you boarded the plane
Did the other passengers recognize you?

III
(Samuel Johnson)

Put her letters in the fire
Striven back onto yourself
A place you’ve been before

IV
(Walt Whitman)

When you listened to the aria in New Orleans
Did it unravel and fathom your heart?

—J.S.

“reverie”

Tom Hubbard, “…Saturday Night” (1973)

reverie

your smile
on a summer night
the starlight
shining after light years
the light in the window
the wind and your voice
I looked up at the sky last night
and thought of you

—J.S.
 

“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & J.F. Coley

“I should have passed a calm and peaceful life…”

Terry Eiler, Walkers in Dust Storm (ca. 1972)

In my native country, in the bosom of my religion, family, and friends, I should have passed a calm and peaceful life in the uniformity of a pleasing occupation, and among connections dear to my heart…

Instead of this — what a picture am I about to draw! — Alas! why should I anticipate the miseries I have endured? The reader will have but too much of the melancholy subject.

—Rousseau, Confessions (Tr. by W. Conyngham Mallory)

“When I don’t write, I wind up on the floor at once, fit for the dustbin…”

F. Holland Day, Peggy Lee Writing (1898)

“My life consists, and has essentially always consisted, of attempts at writing, largely unsuccessful. But when I don’t write, I wind up on the floor at once, fit for the dustbin…it soon became evident that I had to spare myself on all sides, relinquish a little everywhere to retain just enough strength for what seemed to me my main purpose…I once made a detailed list of the things I have sacrificed to writing and the things that were taken from me for the sake of writing or rather whose loss could be endured only with this explanation…So If there is a higher power that wishes to use me, or does use me, I am at its mercy, at least as a well-crafted instrument; if not, I am nothing at all and will find myself in a frightful void.”

—Letter from Franz Kafka to Felice Bauer, November 1, 1912

Solid Objects

Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., “…Men’s clothing II” (1953)

“As his eyes passed from one to another, the determination to possess objects that even surpassed these tormented the young man. He devoted himself more and more resolutely to the search…”

—Virginia Woolf, Solid Objects

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness…”

photograph by Christian Spies via Unsplash

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness. What friends I had were married, raising families, and had locked themselves, ever so tightly, behind their neat-trimmed lawns and white clapboard houses, their children cute, their wives sexless and anxious, my friends plotting their next moves to achieve the Black River Valley Club, never asking themselves what, if they achieved that—the town’s most venerable institution—could possibly be left for them. My friends and I had long proved an embarrassment to one another; I embarrassing them because I drank too much, was unreliable in my debts and working habits, and had been “hospitalized” a number of times; I embarrassed because they were. We never stopped each other on the streets without, eyes avoiding mine, their patronizing me with queries about my health. It was distressing because there was a kind of gloating—undoubtedly a good deal imagined on my part—in these encounters, as though they were telling me that getting myself proclaimed mad and dragged away a number of times was only a childish and petulant refusal to accept their way of life as the right way, that in seeking some other way I had been assuming a courage and superiority I hadn’t possessed. After a time these encounters had proved so painful that whenever I found myself compelled to move about the streets in daylight hours, I dropped my eyes to the sidewalk and charged through the streets as though in a hot-brained hurry…”

—Frederick Exley, “A Fan’s Notes”

I got my own world to live through
And I ain’t gonna copy you…

“It seems as though we were all on a boat now together…”

Walker Evans, Couple on Boat (1973–74)

“It seems as though we were all on a boat now together, a good boat still, that we have made but that we know now will never reach port. There will be all kinds of weather, good and bad, and especially because we know now that there will be no landfall we must keep the boat up very well and be very good to each other.”

—Ernest Hemingway, Letter to Gerald and Sara Murphy, March 19, 1935 on the death of their son.