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Posts Tagged ‘Milton’

In Limbo

July 3, 2014 | by

A photo from the German Federal Archive: a waiting room in April 1978.

Twice this week, I was stood up. In both cases there were extenuating circumstances, attempts to communicate, and sincere apologies—which I had no trouble accepting. The truth is, I didn’t mind; the truth is, I love waiting.

Good thing, because I’m writing this from the DMV, an institution that brings us as close as we can come to Limbo, now that Limbo is no more. I can’t seem to find a pattern in the numbers being called, but I have no reason to believe mine will come anytime soon. And this is profoundly relaxing.

I have a friend who has talked about “the power of being early.” This is debatable—if anything, it’s the person who keeps another waiting who wields a certain power—but it’s certainly true that, once you’re waiting, you have surrendered control, which, as any yoga teacher will tell you, is paradoxically empowering.

I am struck by how relaxed everyone is in this DMV. The air-conditioning is on high; someone else is running things; there is a pleasant feeling of solidarity. As Milton said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” And he knew a thing or two about Limbo—if not the DMV.

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The Beauty of the Heroine: Julia Margaret Cameron and the Poetic Portrait

August 27, 2013 | by

The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere 1874 Albumen silver print from glass negative David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1952, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere, 1874, albumen silver print from glass negative, David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1952, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The beauty of the heroine is evident to every one,” Julia Margaret Cameron wrote as the postscript of a letter accompanying the first copy of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which she illustrated with photographs. She was speaking specifically of her image Vivien and Merlin, but, as evidenced in a show of her photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of Cameron’s greatest talents lay in animating many heroines of poetry through her unconventionally dreamy photographs. Read More »

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Part 1: The Amanuensis

October 24, 2011 | by

Photograph by Michael Childers.

A story in three parts.

Karl, the Beat Hotel’s ex-meth-addict handyman, stood at the top of a thirty-foot ladder, squirting a translucent goo with the brand name “Tanglefoot” onto one of the Hotel’s air-conditioner units. I held the ladder so that Karl did not pitch off into the sand and gravel below. The goo represented a new phase in our boss’s war with the pigeon population of Desert Hot Springs, California.

Our boss was Steve Lowe. Before starting the Beat Hotel, he’d performed with Laurie Anderson and read poetry with Allen Ginsberg. His gallery showed the best work Keith Haring ever did, and he made art with Richard Tuttle. Steve had also been William Burroughs’s amanuensis, a position that combined the duties of researcher, artist’s assistant, gallerist, and Official Writer’s-Block Breaker. Steve could tell stories about hanging out with William and Kurt Cobain and Patti Smith. He also recalled that, at Burroughs’s wake, he and Grant Hart, who was the drummer for Hüsker Dü, were the only people sober enough to be horrified when somebody threw up in the swimming pool. Read More »

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