Monday, February 20, 2006

Seeing spots.

It has been suggested to me that my last few writings here have been a bit on the melancholic side. It's possibly true: February is a raucous month in Gambier, though not nearly as much as April will be, and my brain is probably more scattered and tired than I'd like to admit, and that probably shows up in ways I don't intend. Moreover, the materials I'm teaching right now are almost uniformly grave, full of meditations on and spectacles of characters striving to forget their pain and then inadvertently causing more pain, or of figures searching for their lost pasts and getting severely wounded, or disfigured, or otherwise damaged in the process. Plus, the more I teach, the more I feel that I have a solid grasp on what I want to do every time I'm in the classroom, which seems to have raised the stakes even higher for me. Now that I have a clearer vision, I want even more to get it right. More than melancholy, though, I feel concentrated, intense, absorbed.

I will tell you that tonight, as I prepared for my evening seminar, I was so taken with the sunset's light that I couldn't stop myself from leaning over and staring out the window at it. I'd stare for some time, then realize that that probably wasn't a good idea and stop. And then I'd realize that I couldn't see anything but afterimages, spotty phantom sunsets. Just about the time my eyes would clear out the spots,
I'd realize how lovely the light was, and I'd lean over and look again. (Did I mention that I'm teaching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this week? Can I now claim to have enacted some demented version of that title's implications in my own office?) Though I took many pictures of the sunset and its aftermath after I left my office and headed out for dinner, I would have to retrieve a cable from downstairs in order to upload them, and I'm more fond of this Kandinsky painting, "Einige Kreise" ("Several Circles") (January-February 1926), anyway. I found it on the Guggenheim's website the other morning and couldn't believe I'd never seen it before. What I love is its measured exuberance, which is something of the emotional combination I'm feeling a lot these days, in between meeting various obligations. "Einige Kreise" is a meticulous painting, you realize the longer you look at it, and yet the range and richness of its colors helps it feel less restrained than it might. It reminds me of an excellent sonnet. Or perhaps it reminds me of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, a topic for another night. I imagine Kandinsky's singing along to his brushstrokes as he gets that orange just so, laps the blue over the blue over the black, creates the feeling of motion with his shading there at the left. I imagine him surveying the penumbra around his largest circle, after all was done, and approving of its eclipsical rightness.

The sun wasn't down until well after 6 tonight, and when my seminar pushed off from shore, we could still see the dying of the light over the western hills--both fit reminders that we're now only a month out from the equinox.

2 Comments:

Blogger findfinishfreedom said...

perhaps, i'm misreading in your opening paragraph an (apologetic) impulse to explain why your writing might seem to some readers as 'a bit on the melancholic side.'

this reader respectfully pleads that you ignore that impulse to organize your cabinet of distractions -- and all the honest, raw, inexplicable, immediate, emotions inside, which you grant us the privilege of glimpsing.

i confess here that i've learned more about the interior landscape of the wonderful person you, S. are while perusing through your cabinet here, than i ever knew after several years that we shared the same upstairs/downstairs apartment suite.

perhaps that had to do with the need we all share to dress up in our Dr. or pre-Ph.D. cap before we open our apartment doors and step out into the world to perform whichever roles we need to play that day - instructor, mentor, organizer, or that jolly graduate peer who might reveal a glimpse of melancholy, yet must quickly displace that reason onto the Ithaca weather that day.

you don't have to do that here - though i always loved your wellington boots that you wore on rainy days.

just.let. your. cabinet. be. you.

xoxo
fff

p.s.
guess what i ordered for my birthday? glenn gould's "the complete goldberg variations 1955& 1981" (BMG Music Clubs: three CDS for the price of one!)who knew we had that love in common as well.

10:51 PM, February 21, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

To be completely fair: the posts were called melancholic out of concern, not out of criticism. But thanks, you other S., for making my apologia for me here; these are kind words to get on a Tuesday evening.

11:18 PM, February 21, 2006  

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