Monthly Archives: September 2012



That is all. Or, that is all I have time to say, since I still have a ton of reading to get done.


And now that we have returned to the desert life of the plain, let us endeavor to impart a little of that mountain grandeur into it. We will remember within what walls we lie, and understand that this level life too has its summit, and why from the mountain top the deepest valleys have a tinge of blue; that there is elevation in every hour, as no part of the earth is so low that the heavens may not be seen from, and we have only to stand on the summit of our hour to command an uninterrupted horizon.

– Thoreau, from “A Walk to Wachusett”

Not such bad advice. He takes a long time to get here, though (har har).

Bad things come in threes, so of course the pinnacle of my day was when the tree behind my house got struck by lightning.

We’re in the outer bands of Isaac right now, sort of light rain off and on, not so bad, until today. The afternoon got stormy suddenly, right while I was reading about storms, and then there was a giant crack and my house shook and my head felt funny. The police knocked on the door and told me they thought the house had been hit and someone had reported smoke in the backyard. I grabbed the cat (who I will immediately be ordering a carrier for) and stood on the porch with my neighbor (and her beta fish, dog, and tiny kitten in a bag). The cat struggled. It was pretty awful.

We’re going to have to tell the landlord to cut the tree down tomorrow, when they’re not closed for Labor Day.

What a day.

This morning, I put my finger in my eye after chopping hot peppers (I had washed my hands at least three times in between). Apparently, washing your hands three times is not enough. They were just anchos! Not even that hot. It BURNED.

Then I somehow sliced one of my toes open with a plastic folder.

A mess. I am a mess.


When I tried to find out more about the artist four years ago, the internet was no help. He barely had a Wikipedia page. The giant neon book had not yet been published. Now he’s spinning out there across the internet on so many pages, image after image.

Two years ago, I bought a giant neon art book on Paul Thek. Almost four years ago, I walked into the Reina Sophia museum in Madrid on a whim, found myself lost in a giant retrospective on an artist I’d never heard of. A cavernous procession of installations and painted newspaper. Body parts everywhere under neon plexiglass and in every image an image of the artist himself. A year ago my parents wanted to see Edward Hopper at the Whitney, and I tagged along, and I found myself again in a cavernous space. A projection of the artist’s face on the wall, forty feet high, his body suspended from the ceiling and covered with fish. That familiar tar baby. The notebooks laid open across a table, frustratingly under glass. The same bodies reconstructed, this is not a linear narrative I have to tell. The book weighs a lot, and it cost a lot to ship it. The artist died the year that I was born. I have seen the neon in the corner of my room for two years, keeping watch in the corner, the relic in the reliquary I confuse myself if I am perhaps the relic if the artist’s body is the relic what can we say about replica.

Chris Dercon asks: How, today, can we install and exhibit fragile or temporary works originally produced in the 1960s and 1970s? How can we deal in a responsible and creative way with past oeuvres? Can we reconstruct lost or damaged works at our own will? Can we remake temporary installations? Can we re-install site-specific installations in new contexts? Can we construct projects that the artist only conceived on paper?

Referencing Guy Brett, he adds: It would seem that all exhibitions are mediated versions of something which can never be completely identified or fixed, and issues of death and renewal can never be escaped.

Again I find myself chasing the image of the artist. This is all a really dramatic way of saying, I think I’ve figured out what I want to write for a particular semester project. It’s been following me for years. A lot of what I’ve written and how I think about writing and art has been influenced by Thek, on a chance encounter in a museum in another country where I was briefly made a work in progress and set loose.