Good Narrative Principles



Ordinarily complicated moments don’t gel at the jewelry counter at the Met gift shop. Ordinarily I float past the lush multi-colored, multi-historical temptations and wrestle down a fleeting temptation to buy, to touch, to own this or that. Sand-blasted green glass seems to be my sweet spot.

Last night everything looked beautiful to me. Even the gaudy, overworked fin de sciéle  pendants and it struck me that the prayer wheel/mezuza that I’ve worn exclusively for months now, since my sister gave it to me is starting to feel a bit like a hair shirt.

The thing I wear regardless of the day, the weather or the choice of blue over black. On goes the prayer wheel/mezuza, even though I’ve officially renounced magical thinking on Tuesday January 13th at around three in the afternoon.

I’m tired, bored restless with being a patient. With sitting on an exam table and relaying my medical history and having my breasts massaged with clinical curiosity. I lay back and the prayer wheel/mezuza slides left or right around my neck.

I’ve entered the baroque phase with it. Last weekend, an old friend showed for Tim’s open studio and was wearing a pendant to which I have the only other complimentary one. Two tarnished angels. In the heat of late afternoon, after the last visitor left I combed through the jewelry box until I found the angels and strung them onto the silver chain. Now both the angels and the prayer wheel/mezuzza swing on my neck pulling it down ever so slightly more claiming that body real estate that could be other happily occupied by pearls for instance. Or green glass beads. Anything that might be a bit more in the daily world — a world that is resolutely healthy, casual and caught up in the grievances and concerns that don’t demand heroic gestures simply to enjoy the next day and the one after that.

Let me stop whining and clearly state that I am not a slender twenty-year old robbed of her youth and promise. I’ve squandered my time in the sun. I’ve tried to embrace the challenges and demands of the art impulse, pursuit, occupation and market which is looking for a smart, appealing package that’s presented in a new and novel way capturing the  correspondence between culture circa ten seconds ago and the vast history and language of what went before.

I fell short. Maybe it is a young person’s game. That’s what struck in going to the Pictures show last night at the Met. How different it is from the lone artist working it out on his/her own. This scene was social, educated and well-fed. The only suffering was realizing that all your friends had slipped away to get high and you weren’t invited.

Which is not to undercut the effort that went into cultivating, embellishing and promoting your individual style. That work was deadly serious. Time here is the great equalizer. Some works fall short, a knee-jerk response to the times that has little depth, akin to a feature film that should have been a comedy skit. And offering yourself to the golden alter of talent/no talent. I could no more have decided whose talent would yield work that looked substantial in those galleries vs. those that where nothing more than graphic tricks, ghosts, puns.

It is constantly surprising to me that this is how life is lived. In time. Falling away. Until the body falls sick, fails your or fate intervenes and you’re gone.

And until then, it’s fine balancing act between this and that. And occasionally a touch of awareness. Maybe even a bit of joy.

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