“Most reckless things are beautiful in some way and recklessness is what makes experimental art so beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing…I feel this in the work of great modern painters such as Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. Everyone acknowledges them now as being major artists, and yet, does their work amount to anything? There’s a possibility that it doesn’t, although I believe in it and want it to exist. But I think that part of the strength of their art, in fact, is this doubt as to whether it may be there at all.”—John Ashbery (via this terrific article)
Look, do you realize how many manuscripts we get? Thousands! Tens of thousands! Just stacks and stacks! Some people don’t have desks, they just have stacks. And there are people whose whole job it is to throw them in the garbage. Huge bins! They use shovels! But the manuscripts never stop coming in.
If you could live in any time period other than now, when would it be? Why?
This is an impossibly difficult question. Invariably, I would choose to be a girl, and women have had quite a shitty time of it, for most of recorded history. Dowries, chattelesque lifestyles, burning stakes. And make no mistake, I would definitely be on the burned-at-the-stake list, what with my blighting skills and all.
I love the fashion and music and art and literature of the 19th century, but having to drag an escort along with me everywhere I go? Inevitably a crotchety old aunt who belittles my embroidery skills? No thank you. Chamber pots? Monthlies with no modern feminine accoutrements? The mind boggles. So no, can’t go that far back.
Perhaps the late ’20s/early ’30s then, right? Dancing every night of the week! To live bands! Bix Beiderbecke! This is my favorite jazz era and I would be lost in a Shag/Balboa/Charleston reverie but then that damn Depression gets in the way, not to mention Prohibition. Moonshine sounds good in theory, but I have a feeling I’d miss legal alcohol. And my eyesight. If I could cancel out the Depression and Prohibition, this era would be golden. Oh, but wait, no reliable birth control. SHIT! See? Time travel is hard, don’t let Bill and Ted’s easy swagger fool you.
I’m sticking with modern-day eternally fantasizing about living in the past me, thank you very much.