Tag Archives: J. Robert Lennon

A requiem (com)post: “bore the Garden in the Brain / This Curiosity-”


“This ‘Arth.”
-Natty Bumppo

This is a made-up life in all meridians. Made up of dirt, moved by water and air, refined in fire, per ignem. Scattered about, and everything’s comin’ up roses.

In the print edition of Times Literary Supplement (May 1, 2009), Kelly Grovier writes about Cy Twombly’s paintings currently on display at Gagosian’s Gallery in London. (Unfortunately, the article is not accessible online.) Five paintings, each with four wood panels, three with full bloom roses, and one with scrawled fragments from “Les Roses” by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Probably most recognized for his “blackboard” paintings, which look like, well, blackboards, filled with student cursive handwriting exercises, Twombly has a gallery dedicated to him at the Menil Collection in Houston. I have wandered through it twice. It is an exquisite building, each room devoted to a different period of the artist’s work, many of the paintings including poetry integrated in the image, in what Grovier describes as a “blurring of boundaries between the visually unrefined and the verbally incoherent.” The effect is remarkable; I’ve wept in joyful melancholy thinking about them. The untitled “Green” paintings that fill one room are to my mind Pacific Northwest landscapes; or, rather, small west slope Cascades streamscapes.

6_twombly_int4Painting is reading is gardening. Weeds everywhere.

My favorite professor called it “the study of litter – ah – tour,” to rhyme with manure. He also told one of the best literary anecdotes I’ve heard. Teaching one evening class a week at the University of Minnesota, he had the habit of stoping for a drink after in a near-campus bar. Chatting with the new bartender one night, a Persian pre-med student, he said, “By the way, I’m Bill Lemons,” to which the bar-keep replied, “Call me Ishmael.”
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