On Tuesday, mid-way through the afternoon in the studio, I suddenly "hit the wall"....you know that feeling when you are absolutely done in and exhausted...I felt that way, but there was also a feeling even more pronounced....starvation. I desperately needed food and nourishment in the form of language...I needed literature. When you're in that really hungry state and you don't know what you want to eat, it can be terribly frustrating. I live surrounded by books, many many of them unread, and yet each book I picked up was not the thing I craved. You know that old saying, "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink"....that was the state I was in. I didn't want a story or a narrative, I wanted a language that would transport me. With reading, it works much the same as when I first look at a work of art and I am taken in by surface, texture and composition...some kind of global sense of it...and whatever image is represented is very secondary. With literature, I really don't even care if there is a narrative, but the language and its cadence, the writing itself has to captivate me and absorbe me whole. So, I took a nap and resolved to go the local library on my trip into town Wednesday for my one-afternoon-a-week job at the music museum. There, I found all kind of unexpected treasures that filled me with the anticipation of reading pleasure and I couldn't wait to get home! I started with a spare, newly published novella by an Austrian writer well known in his day between the wars, Stefan Zweig. I love writing that is layered, but I also love writing that is spare. But, here it is Friday and I've not actually started the novella itself, because I read the beautifully written introduction by Andre Aciman and was transfixed by his writing. When I investigated Andre Aciman, a name vaguely familiar, I found that he'd written a number of books, but also was the man behind The Proust Project....the book sitting on the shelf not two feet away from me, still unread after several years. There is a time and a place for everything...so that's what I'm reading now....I've come full circle....the book I needed to be reading was here all the time and I just didn't know it. The Proust Project gathers short essays by 28 writers regarding their first reading of Marcel Proust and its effect on them, along with a fairly lengthy excerpt from Proust's writing that goes with each. Once I began reading this book, I knew that, of course, I must really read Proust all the way through this time (not starting and stopping as I am famous for doing) because his long, winding sentences weave their way in and out of all the ideas that are at the core of my need to express....time, memory, living, dying, experiencing the moment in the past, in the present and in the future, and sometimes all at once. I'm not starving anymore....I'm engaged in a rather sumptuous meal and looking forward to a quiet weekend of reading and art making!
Winter Meditation no.15