Inspired by the horrors and paradoxes of our current cultural moment (and a Paris Review article by Claire Dederer), I wrote a short piece for Mockingbird: “Love the Art, Hate the Artist?”
When a politician misbehaves, it’s easy (in theory) to wave our hands and say, “Politicians! They’re all filthy.” But when our favorite novelist or comedian or musician misbehaves, we feel conflicted. We feel like we’ve been implicated ourselves. This is how I felt when I learned that Virginia Woolf, one of my all-time favorites, dressed in blackface to a party and was famously cruel and anti-Semitic. We want our artists to be as blameless as we think we are. Our beloved artists made something so good, so beautiful; shouldn’t the end product match the content of their souls?
This is the tricky thing about art: Great art can be created by terrible people.
I still can’t read the news, because it makes me queasy, so it was nice to remove myself from a screen for a long weekend. We retreated for the Thanksgiving holiday to spend the time with Guion’s family, and it was very nice.
One supreme benefit is Georgia. This is Georgia. She belongs to Guion’s parents, and she is probably the best dog who has ever lived. She really likes holding hands.
We enjoyed long conversations and memory-sharing at the dinner table; ate sumptuously; and took extensive warm-weather walks.
(Guion also continues to be very good-looking.)
We are at peace, despite our increasingly doomed country. I let him get his first Christmas tree* of our marriage this year, and he is very happy about it. The morning after we put it up and decorated it, I found him sitting in the dark living room next to it, lights on, drinking his tea. I felt a surge of guilt for being such a Scrooge, for having crushed his childlike spirit for so many years. But we have it now. And Christmas joy permeates the house.
(*”Tree” is a grandiose term; the thing is barely 3 feet tall. My wifely generosity has limits.)
A peaceful, long weekend with Guion’s family — peaceful, even though kept ourselves busy with a revolving door of relatives, multiple brisk walks, and the “Blessing of the Hounds” before the annual fox hunt.
Tomorrow morning, Guion, Pyrrha, and I are setting off for Southern Pines for a long weekend with the Pratt family. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, taking long walks with Pyrrha and Windy around the neighborhood, and stuffing my face.
On the eve of this great American holiday, here is a preliminary list of things I am thankful for right now:
Guion, everything that he is now and is becoming. And those blue eyes of his! Like an ice dragon! Have you looked at them lately? His eyes are a seriously unreal color, much like Jack Donaghy’s.
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
We have been talking about gratitude lately. I read this poem at small group this past week and it made me feel hopeful and sad and focused all at the same time. I think it is a beautiful one. It always hits me right where I am.
Ah, Thanksgiving. It was so ideal. The weather was divine; the food, miraculous; the company, perfect. As always, it is difficult to get back into the weekly routine, but I feel sufficiently rested and hopeful. I left ineffably thankful for our families. And I got to spend plenty of time with dogs, which was naturally another thing to be grateful for. Photos from the holiday weekend on my Flickr.
Women Who Write Like Men and Men Who Write Like Women. A somewhat interesting corollary to my thoughts on this matter? So, it turns out that men and women do actually use pronouns differently, and so we can overgeneralize and say that there are some “men who write like women” and some “women who write like men.” Haven’t processed the implications of this, but it’s still interesting. (Full Stop)
Joan Didion on Stage. More Didion (because I’m reading The Year of Magical Thinking right now, probably). And because she is snarky and cool. (The New Yorker’s Book Bench)
Bicycle Portraits, Part III. This looks like a beautiful book. Would make a gorgeous gift for the avid cyclist in one’s life. (Miss Moss)
30 Tech Gifts Under $100. It seems all people want these days are gadgets, so this is a small but helpful gift guide for design-friendly digital-age presents. [Side note: Can I talk about how much I hate the asterisk in the Design*Sponge title? I always want to leave it out, even though copy editor rules tell me you’re supposed to punctuate a title the way a firm punctuates it. Still. I think it is stupid, Bonney. Even though your gift guides and your general website are great.] (Design*Sponge)
Constellation Calendar. Ooh, love. Even though I can’t identify a constellation to save my life (except probably Orion’s belt). (Unruly Things)
The Class Comforter. The sweetest. I would like to have that job/get someone else in my office to have that job. (Sweet Fine Day)