Friday, April 20, 2007

THE PAINTED WORD V - Images & Words & Images

   As I write about drawing -­ as I have been doing for ten days - as I write about how freeing it was in the late eighties to stop being a writer, I find my writing weaves in and out of my drawing as my drawing does my writing. My writing. The writing that goes beyond literal or constructed or imagined contractual demands. And I realize that even in the late eighties I never stopped writing.

In that time back then I always carried a notebook. I wanted nothing to do with words, and -­ however -­ I had to put this wanting nothing to do with words into words. It struck me one day, during one of Michael Burban¹s drawing and anatomy lectures at the League -­ a time in which I was as much in 15th century Florence as 20th century New York - as I listened to the wonderfully theatrical Burban and watched him draw, I also looked out a big window in the big studio room and drifted into myself, though still aware of Burban and his model and his skeleton -­ drifted off as thoroughly as I would drift off if I had been bored by the lecture, but I knew this as the opposite of boredom.

I never stopped writing when I told myself that what I am discovering are matters for which I do not have words, as in those shapes that change, as in what had been a small dark squiggling mark takes over the page and takes me back into literal comforting and dangerous dark woods from childhood - when comforting places become threatening places when the images appear as I put marks on my pad -­ and find I am already putting what is in these emerging images into words, the words following the images on the pad just as the words, when they mean anything, always follow what is taking shape somewhere free from the dead rules of life and language.

But although I always had a notebook in my portfolio case, I took pride that people, noticing the paint on my shoes, asked me if I were an artist. I ran into Nancy in a bookstore. She had two Danish exchange students in tow. She introduced me as her writer friend. I tried to keep calm. Who did she think I was? Through clenched teeth, I made it clear that the only reason I was in the store was to buy a map of Florence.

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