Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beat Memories

Again and again in those final years he returned to a single image - the view from his kitchen window - squat East Village skyline, propellers of shrubbery, an open window flirting with the wind, and half a dozen droplets of rain shining on a clothesline, meaning nothing symbolic, you understand, no poetry as high wire act, placement of words on the taut line, points of focus making the scene come true, only the instinct of an old poet, his empathy for all that clings by a thread, familiar alchemy of shabbiness to sadness achieved by fragile means.

And all around that image the photographs of his friends from the old days - Burroughs, Corso, Kerouac - all that mad and generous generation, so easy in their young men's faces, so tired in their old, a gallery of portraits in impromptu glory, resplendent as drops on a clothesline, that hold, their fall inevitable, true to the light.

[Inspired by an exhibition of Ginsberg's photographs at the National Gallery of Art]

Update: Edmund White in the NYRB on the exhibition

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On Beauty

You want to believe beauty can save you, but it can't.

You want to believe you can save beauty, hold on to it, preserve it, and you can, but you won't.

The only relation possible between you and beauty is the one between the mirror and the light: both suffer endlessly for the other, but neither can bear the other's touch.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


A raindrop on an autumn leaf
Reminds me of all the ways
New beauty is vulnerable
And the hurt in her eyes.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How would we know if time passed us by?

I smell the dust by the roadside.
I join the procession of ghosts.
Then the wind lifts like a summer veil
And the evening is empty again.

- Hu Ming-Xiang

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The suspicion of beauty

...clings to every fragile thing.

Perhaps it is the hysteresis of suffering, that makes us helpless in the face of helplessness. Or a proactive nostalgia for what must soon be ruined.

Perhaps it is a dangerous sense of our own presence, like the wonder of a child watching the cobweb billow with his every breath.