Friday, August 23, 2019

On the Origin of Connecting the Dots




Excuse me for breathing. Yeah, I'm in that kind of mood. But I'm having an emotional hangover from the bad day I had yesterday. My sister called to see if I knew the origin of a couple of lithographs that she had come across and it happened that I did know; they were used in a book about Swordfish, which I happened to have right here, in my vast library. So of course I couldn't find the book and that set off a day long battle with OCD, about which I trust you to do your own homework.
And today, when I wanted to make a note about something that came up in my reading the other day I knew that I had somewhere written about the origin of my usage of the gimmick known as connecting the dots. I know I've referred to connecting said dots, but the origin! It's important. Why it's important is because it is sort of a Meme-Trop Hobby-horse of my own human being, as it were.

It's like this. Way back when I was a little kid and lived in a house to which was attached a big studio used by my father who cranked out illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, McCall's Redbook and all the rest, (read my book),  I would on occasion when he wasn't busy wander around the studio, and what most appealed to me were the things he tacked onto his walls, which included notes to himself, sketches, letters from people, pictures, pages from magazines, photographs, and, usually near the wall phone were newspaper clippings, including one which stayed up for years which was a column written by his friend Bob Sylvester, who had a regular column in the New York Daily News which was mostly about Broadway and Movie people and occasionally about Montauk and his favorite sport, which he enjoyed along with my father, Surf-casting. I don't remember what this particular column was about but it was written in his usual style, which was to write a sentence or two about something, and then go directly to something completely unrelated, without the use of a paragraph, using instead a series of dots. Dot, dot, dot, like so. ......(Like that.)
   Well, I thought Sylvester, (That's what everyone called him, not Bob), was very cool, and I thought his use of the dot dot dots was also very cool. In retrospect one reason for my appreciation of the gimmick is that I, being attention deficited  from birth could really have used that gimmick in my speech, in order to appease those who tried to listen to me converse. Well, it didn't work as speech, so eventually I started writing. Too bad I never got to have a column.
  
 O.K., so now that we're straight on that, I want to go on to the expanded use of dots about which I've already spoken in a previous blog, which is connecting the dots where there is, rather than isn't some sort of related meaning, but the writer is assuming, if not jumping to the conclusion, that there is some relativity to the two subjects, which calls for the usage of the term "Connecting the Dots", as a metaphor.
   This metaphorical usage can be an important tool for any writer, but it also happens to be an important tool for crazy people, who use it to calm their mania, schizophrenia, homicidal rage, or other symtom. [Lacan; simtome] And I, who am certifiably sane, get sometimes uncomfortable when I dabble in what is for me ordinarily a very pleasurable occupation.

Which leads me back to the ever hovering present. While reading Ingo Swann's book Psychic Sexuality, just now, he mentions Sinclair Lewis's book Mental Radio, which is about his, Lewis's, wife's psychic abilities; so I quickly add that to my Kindle, and now, as I happen to read more than two books during the same now period, I'm also, now, re-reading Rebecca West's biography, by Victoria Glendenning, and I'm at the point, p. 162, where she mentions her friend Dorothy Thomson, who, it turns out, was the second wife, after the Mental Radio wife, of Sinclair Lewis, and I think, well, now that is cool; or, something like well that sort of connects some dots! [And no, I didn't even think of referring to Ms. Thomson as Dot.]  ..........Jouissance.


 
 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tooth Update



You might want to play Intermission Riff as background music to this. #18 molar removed last Wednesday. Took a Vicodan when I got home and another upon waking in the middle of the night. After that only Tylenol as needed. And it's still as needed almost a week later. It's not such pain but just a nagging soreness that is too close to my brain and my eye nerves and makes me feel like I am suffering from Neuralgia, a term I associate with my mother. One of her words. Don't ask.
It doesn't take much for my serenity to degrade into a common Melanie Kleinish depression, an Aginbite of Inwit with residue of Impending Doom. Ah, residue. I remember you, my lovely.

I remember sleeping on her couch and having to pee and holding it in all night, unable to sleep but afraid of waking her in her princess bedroom and finally giving in and tiptoeing past her open door to the john and peeing and then letting myself out into the Upper West Side dawn. The night she became a Goddess.

Now I'm wondering about Egon Shiele and did he influence Freud.  Why am I worried? Don't I think that someone has figured it all out by now? I mean, all!

Reality Boxes. Tony Bennett is a terrible painter. Sinatra wasn't much better. Bob Dylan does knock-offs of snapshots with a Magic Lantern. Ingo Swann, as a painter? Well, not part of the Modernist canon. Sam Butera did it right. One hit song and a string of hits with Louis Prima. I must be having a Tylenol buzz.


   

Friday, July 19, 2019

Anthony West




Just finished reading Heritage, a novel by Anthony West, the son of Rebecca West and H.G. Wells. An autobiographical novel, it seems to me though that there is more than enough cover for the real-life story that is its foundation. I enjoyed reading it and thought it was very good writing, with, contrary to most critical opinion, plenty of love given to each of the parent figures, though the mother character gets the worst of it.
Having read just about everything that Mom wrote, starting for aforementioned reasons with her magnum opus, Black Lamb Grey Falcon,  I put off reading Anthony's book for years in order to avoid having my love for Rebecca be destroyed. From her photographs, I knew that she was "My Type", which is to say beautiful and brilliant.
Rebecca was apoplectic upon reading the manuscript and threatened to sue if it was published. She continued to harp at him about it for the rest of their lives.That's not the picture I wanted to have of my Rebecca, of course. So, in Googling around, I discovered a novel of hers I hadn't read, Sunflower, a book one reviewer said is her most autobiographical, (even though the main character is "stupid", according to herself), kind of a ditz; in more modern parlance. So I had to read it and have just started; more to come, or as they say in the trade......*

Partially I suppose because of this incest book that I'm re-reading, (it was hard to digest in one reading), but also because of good positive identification with the Anthony character in his book Heritage, I see resentment concerning what had to be covert incest, at least, in the mother-son relationship. No reason that I can see to doubt that it was felt and reacted upon and ground up in ego, ego ideal and superego machinations by the two of them.  Also, of course, helps to explain the overly ego-idealized picture of H.G. Wells.(I know I'm not discovering the wheel here..)  So for Anthony it was too hard to idealize Mom and too easy to idealize Dad.

*      *      *     *

*Now it's a month later and I've just finished reading Sunflower. No, I'm not going to be a critic. I had a hard time putting it down. It is certainly the inside of the mind of a beautiful woman who is very conscious of her beauty and the effect that it has on her audience, (she's a famous stage actress), and I'm not a man who has trouble giving women their due as artists; poets, painters, novelists. That even though I grew up in an environment where testicles seemed to be a part of what made artists great. Well, that was stupid then and stupid still, and not everybody paid attention to it. Why she wrote Sunflower as thinking herself stupid is probably connected to her criticism of H.G., who is the Essington character. It works fine for me. Did she want to be more feminine than Molly Bloom?  I think so. She had some sharp criticisms as well as a heaping spoonful of praise for J.Joyce in The Strange Necessity, which I'm slowly re-reading. About my identification with women I suppose that comes directly from my access to the thinking of my mother, a woman artist who thought a great deal about creativity as a process, and was a fan of such as Stanislavsky and Nicolaides. I suppose I'll have more to say about this...Oh yes!  Mirror Neurons...!  I'm slowly listening to a talk on U-Tube by Ingo Swann about ESP sensitivities, and about three quarters of the way into this talk he waves a copy of the NY Times which has in it an article, (2006, I think June), about Mirror Neurons, which, he says, are connected to mind reading.  Good ole Ingo.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Connecting the Dots


 

 

I’ve referred before to a woman friend who’s therapist  cautioned her, “No, dear, no connecting the dots. Not for you, no no no!”  I thought it was funny because I saw how true it was for her, that she could so easily be led so far astray that she couldn’t find her own way back. But I also know that the same could probably also apply to me.  And yet I am compelled to do it. Or something like it, which is that idea of the six degrees of separation. Perhaps I kid myself that playing six degrees of separation is a safer form of being master of all you survey than connecting the dots. It’s probably just another form of ego mania. Anyway, that being so, I still intend to comfort myself with the knowledge that whenever I walk into a room and notice how many people are there, I know that there are that many egos in that room. 

I got on this subject while reading a book that I came to because it is in the bibliography of another book I’m reading. While reading the latter, I Googled the author and found that her home address was in the same building in which my sister and her late husband lived for many years. Which of course makes the connection all about me! (That’s the humorous part.)  The author’s name is Edith Jacobson, M.D., she’s a Psychoanalyst, or was, and the book, The Self and the Object World, is fifty years old, so, I don’t know her status.

I should probably say that for my connecting the dots I often have to rely on my sister for my starter connection, though not always and not always completely. As in the following: 

My significant other, when I met her 23 years ago, was the widow of a filmmaker by the name of Konstantine Kalser.  Konny, as he was called, was the son of two German Jewish immigrants who came to America as part of the same wave of immigration in which Albert Einstein arrived. Konnie’s father was an actor, Irwin Kalser, who played the part of the Red Cross Inspector in the movie Stalag Seventeen. Konny's mother, Irmgard von Cube, was a screenwriter who had to her credit among others the film Johnny Belinda. And Irmgard, during her travels around Hollywood, had at some moment in time an affair with Alexander Korda, who those in an ancient age bracket even ahead of mine might have known as a famous director and producer of movies in The U.K., and the United States. And Alexander’s son, Michael, a very big cheese in the publishing industry, had an affair with Margaret, the wife of my late brother-in-law, Burton Glinn, who, because Michael was also Burt’s good pal and all, divorced said wife, and later married my sister. Michael and Margaret continue to age gracefully in the horse country north of NYC. 


Now, if I post the above, I will be leaving it to you, fellow web-surfer, to determine whether this sort of stuff is anything more than obscene titillation.

I suppose I could add at this point that I have a million of them and that they are part of what floats my boat.  


    


Saturday, July 13, 2019

July, 2019, Too Hot to Ride




I've had a one half-hour riding lesson on my schedule every week for about the last ten years, but this year, after having "my own horse", that is a leased one, for several months, and after taking a few weeks off and doing nothing but reading and writing, I took a lesson this morning and found it too hot. So I've quit again.* I'll need to take a couple of lessons before I go on a planned "Clinic", at an Icelandic Horse Camp in Tennessee on Labor Day Weekend, but until then I'm sequestered at my desk in the air conditioning of South Florida Summer. I need to do the best I can under what are, at least for the time being, for a deep thinking bookworm such as me, almost ideal circumstances. The future is in the hands of God.

 I'm still reading the de Kooning bio. Seems I've been picking at it for months, but I'm enjoying being able to go back to it in small doses. For me, thinking about my misspent youth is emotionally taxing. I'm now at the point in the book where John McMahon and Michael Wright came on board, and they were part of the group that I drank with, (which to some extent added color and meaning to my otherwise grim life), and also, Lisa is growing and becoming the wild child she was. 

Also still reading Robert Kaplan's book about Romania, In Europe's Shadow. It's a bit tough getting hold of the Eastern European history of the last few centuries, but Kaplan is such a great writer that he makes it palatable even for a non-scholar like me. He rightly calls himself both a travel writer and a political journalist because that is what he is. His book Balkan Ghosts paid homage to Rebecca West's Black Lamb Grey Falcon, which book inspired me to write about my father who was born  one hundred and eighteen years ago in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.  

Also still reading Patriarchy and Incest from Shakespeare to Joyce, by Jane M. Ford, a book I was steered to by something someone said somewhere, I've forgotten where, having to do with the author's Lacanian leanings. I've been leaning on Lacan for a couple of years now, and in some way I might have deKooning to blame for that because he was always quoting Wittgenstein, about whom I'm not sure how much he knew, and about whom I haven't learned much of anything, except that he helped to start the fire which became Structuralism which is mired in Linguistics, into which I've done some peering. 
In the aforementioned incest book the author refers to James Joyce's character Stephen Daedelus doing some theorizing about Shakespeare. In Ulysses Chapter Nine, in the Library, Stephen and his cronies are talking about Shakespeare's traumatic life with his seductive and cuckolding older woman wife and his relationships with his daughters and sons as they reach a certain age and said certain age's relationship to the wife and children of Joyce himself. So I went back and read chapter nine in Ulysses,* no easy trick because there are no chapter headings in the Kindle version and I can't find the book. I can never find the book I want though others jump off the shelves at me with regularity.    


Amazon books is the biggest Library* the world has ever known, and I'll accept that it is a gift from God. In a regular library, you can just ignore the genres. Go straight to what you're looking for. But with Amazon the temptation is too great to see what all the other freaks are up to. My God! There are so many genres! I mean there are people who spend their whole lives reading about seventh graders who have super powers!

But, getting back to me, and how I, me personally that is, get Me side-tracked, let me say that from semiotics to Chris Langan is only a short distance from Ingo Swann, about whom I've been hearing things for years...
Having read Physics of The Non-Physical, by John Joseph Petrovic, just for a treat, along the lines of way back when, reading The Tao of Physics, which was intellectual candy; a sugar-free sugar-rush, and wow, Petrovic can do that thing, delivering the sub-atomic Universe to the Unwashed, (that's me), better than anybody, at least so far, and since he goes into some depth about Ingo Swann's career as a Remote Viewer for the National Security apparatus, amazing stuff, I figured I'd read one of Swann's books and it turns out he's a terrific writer and I've gobbled up several more of his books in the past few weeks.
The point being, that in Swann's explanation of how the psychic facility works he gets into the importance of visualizing pictures, instead of, or in addition to, words; and the importance of things like symbols and pictographs.
And so that has led me to order a print book, (it's not available on Kindle), Art and Visual Perception, A Psychology of the Creative Eye, by Robert Arnheim, which, if you've been following me, brings me right back to square one. Keep in touch, love 'ya.



*O.K., technically it's a bookstore.  

*If you're wondering why I have such a half-baked routine of horsemanship, it's just that I never got to be a really good horseman, I was too busy with other things until I got too old to be involved in anything really sporty, and besides you really need money to get going in the horse world, either money or extreme ambition, and I was lacking in both. Money is a touchy subject with me, so, I'll get back to you on that. The reason I take lessons, instead of just going on a trail ride, is because, one, the stable right next to my apartment is a teaching stable, oriented toward Hunter-Jumpers and Dressage, and two, a lesson is better exercise, and the only kind of exercise I'm willing to do, is riding. Period.  

*For those of you in Rio Linda, the only way to read Ulysses is with the help of Cliff's notes.That is unless you are a brilliant scholar of The Whole of Western Civilization, in which case, well, excuse me! (Me, I whipped out my Cliff's and turned to Chapter Nine.)  [I said Help of, not instead of].  


    

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

RJP/RIP





 My father was eighty years old when he died of a heart attack. It was early morning, Oct. 7, 1981, he was sitting by the side of his bed, having just woke up, he was dressed, with one shoe on and one shoe off, when he fell over into his bed. All that week I had been in Manhattan,  staying at my sister's apartment, working for a friend on the renovation of an Upper East Side town house. At 5:am I woke up suddenly as if jolted by an electric shock, and sat bolt upright in bed. Without a thought in my head, I got up, walked to a window that looked south on 78th St. from the fifth floor and watched as across the street on the same floor a young attractive brunette woman stood in front of her bathroom mirror, her robe open, breasts exposed, and washed her face. 
After she dried her face with a towel she began, slowly, with the concentration of an artist working on a canvas, to put on her makeup.She rubbed a cream into her face with upward strokes and strained across the sink to look closely at herself. She could have been in her mid thirties or early forties.  Carefully, she worked on her eyes, brushing her brows, drawing in eye liner and adding mascara. She sponged on a base and patted on powder, and lined her lips with a lip liner; then she filled in the drawn space with lipstick.She looked at herself with what could have been a seductive look and disappeared into the faded yellow background of the rest of her apartment. I went back to sleep.  

When the phone rang, at seven, it was my mother. "Hi, I'm not sure, I think Dad is dead," she said. She had had the presence of mind to call the police. A cop got on the line. "Hi Tony, It's officer Segelkin, your mother's a little confused. I'm sorry.Your father is dead. It looks like he's been dead for a couple of hours. I'm just waiting for the coroner." I knew, immediately, that I had been awakened by my father.I felt, before I had a chance to think about it, that the woman across the street had been involved with us in some kind of synchronicity. It was a comfort.

Still, I was in somewhat stunned state as I walked to the crosstown bus to be with my sister who was staying with her soon-to-be husband. She had unnerved me on the phone, going straight into a bawling fit of grief. I however remained numb and cool. Between Madison and Fifth I saw in slow motion a cinder lofting toward me on a breeze. It landed like a meteor on the globe of my eye. The pain kept me focused until my future brother-in-law could extract it with a Q-tip. My sister, hysterical when I got there, was distracted by my eye problem and began to rearrange furniture in anticipation of moving in.
Helping her move an antique high-boy in the hallway, I felt my back go out as I lifted my end. It felt like ripping flesh but didn't become paralyzing pain until my days chores were done; driving my sister out to the East End, and comforting her and my mother. 
                                                                                  


I was home alone when the Funeral Director called to say my father's ashes were ready; mother and sister were out shopping for groceries. I became too anxious to wait, and dragged my still spasming back off the couch, walked down the gravel driveway through the scrub oak woods to the highway and started walking into town. I was picked up by a guy I went to High School with, a stocky, bristle-cutted carpenter, who I'd never really gotten to know real well, and who turned out to be a soft spoken, nicely sympathetic man. I explained my mission, he dropped me off in front of the Funeral Home, and I was welcomed into the office of Mr. Yardley, the owner of the business, and given a small cardboard box, the size of a pet rock, the old man's ashes, and his Bulova watch, a new model, thin, with a blond leather strap. For a second, I felt lucky, like it was unexpectedly Christmas. A watch. I'd inherited something.  
   
Just to the South of Montauk light, at a fishing spot he loved called Caswell's, while my mother and sister stood on the shore weeping and throwing wild rose petals into the air, I stood in pain, on a slippery rock, and shook the old man's ashes from the little box into a tidal pool. The energy it took to cope with the pain in my back worked better than the strongest mental straight-jacket tranquilizer to keep me from feeling much emotion. I could only focus on my task at hand, and guess at what my feelings might be. I felt like a soldier. I felt like I was doing something heroic just being there.
    
The old man had been born in a seaside hamlet in Yugoslavia, to a Roman Catholic Croat father and an Orthodox mother. Though not religious, he considered himself a spiritual man who had been blessed with certain special dispensations because of his being an artist.
When I had gone off to college in my late teens, my mother called to say she had talked the old man into getting married in the church. (Catholic.) I was surprised by this sudden concern with religion, I expected it came mostly from my mother, who had intermittant bouts of religiosity, and I was doubtful that he would go through with it.
  
He did, but when the priest told him he would have to attend Confession and Communion, he said matter of factly that he had no sins, and the priest accepted his proclamation. He charmed his way straight to Communion and a quick ceremony and was back in his studio in a couple of hours.

From:  Hold Still, a memoir in progress, by me. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Annual Report, 6/21/2019



For the record:  I'm six months into my 76th year.  My sister, who is three years younger than me, broke her little toe last week. She plans to travel to London in a few days so I hope her toe will be alright. My significant other, Martha, continues to divest herself. This is slightly unnerving to me.

On a lighter note, we have a nice selection of birds in our yard; that is our yard we share with other condominium residents. We have Muscovys, Herons of various types, Egyptian Geese, Black Ducks, Whistling Ducks, Mud Hens, a nesting Thrush family, an Osprey, and other's I can't think of. Also, looking out the window I can see the Riding Stable where until recently I was half-leasing a Missouri Foxtrotter named Spirit. It's gotten too hot, so I've taken a sabbatical, after which I'll ride one half-hour a week just to keep my seat so that I can go to a week-end "Horse-camp", on the way up North Labor Day Weekend.
The reading list is as follows; still reading, very slowly, a bio of DeKooning, titled DeKooning*, which puts me into a state of fascination with the Bill centered life the pleasure of which I can only stand for short bursts. DeK. was something in the way of a combination Rock Star and stuffed animal, mixed with a stand-up act. He was the center of gravity in the world that I, as a mostly silent observer, lived in from pre-adolescence into middle age. I'll probably still be picking at it all through this hot Florida Summer.

My excuse for stopping the horse lease had to do with wanting to build up some energy toward doing some writing. We'll have to see where that goes.


I'm reading what used to be known as a dirty book. Mandingo. It's about slavery. In the mid-sixties, while living in Manhattan, it seemed to be what everyone was reading on the subway and on buses. I probably would have been ashamed to read it at the time, it having to do with what seemed to me to be a taboo subject, but its appeal back then seemed to be mostly prurient. I wasn't in to prurient at the time, being focused on romantic drinking. Now I'm reading it to see what I missed. I'm sure confessing to reading it brands me a racist. Luckily, it doesn't matter because I'm not famous. And I'm not rascist. And if you still have doubts, then I'll say I'm a Lacanian.
    I'm still reading The Portable Chris Langan, re-reading Patriarchy and Incest from Shakespeare to Joyce, a fascinating book, first-reading Robert D. Kaplan's In Europe's Shadow, his book about Romania; I'm picking through Balzac's Droll Stories, Picking at Sizek's The Parallax View, quite difficult going, re-reading John Petrovic's Physics of the Non Physical, wonderful book, just finished Ingo Swann's Penetration, (loved it), am now half way through his book Reality Boxes, which finds me sort of hooked on the late Mr. Swann, and that's about it.

In the car, while doing errands, I listen to Legends Radio, out of Palm Beach, and I'm hooked on that, the American Songbook, because I love Keeley, and Ella, and Tony Bennett, (though not his painting), and Louis Prima and a cast of thousands.

I also spend a few minutes each day watching old clips of Rodeo footage on something called The Cowboy Channel, which I don't know why Comcast gives me, but for which I'm grateful.That's about it; right now I'm watching the Royal Ascot with the sound off. On behalf of Equines everywhere, I should say God Bless the Queen.

*7/23/2019  Finished reading the de Kooning book. I very much enjoyed it, and think it's one of the better artist's biographies I've read. During all his days living in East Hampton his charisma as well as the power and beauty of his work were a key ingredient of the Zietgiest that was Springs in those days. I knew many of the people in his circle and had a knowledge of his earlier life that I learned both through reading and by listening to various artists and art-world people including my parents. Of the women in his life that I knew I especially liked Elaine and Susan Brockman. I had coffee and/or breakfast on many occasions with Elaine at Eddies Luncheonette in East Hampton Village. I knew Susan through a small group of friends that often gathered at the home of Dick Schuste. The group included Carlos Anduze, Carlo Grossman, Dick's daughter Toby, and Neil Noland, and perhaps one or two others that I can't recall. It was around that time that Dick became ill with lung cancer and died.