Typically I don’t understand color enough to know whether one shade “has more red in it” than another. My girlfriend laughs at me when I call a shirt purple. But lapis lazuli is so wholly blue. Or, primarily wholly and vibrantly blue, with those white and yellow lines veined through it. Many friends, recently, are developing or disclosing their belief in the healing power of crystals. All I can say: the color balms my mind.
Does the earth from space look like a piece of or contain the color of lapis lazuli? Or, a piece of lapis reminds me of the earth from space—that warm and distant.
If one were to claim ownership of a farm of an acreage that sounded impressive but not excessive, how many acres would it be?
Last spring, one of the graduate art students I was teaching wrote about Levinas in her thesis paper. I’ve never read him, but whenever I see his name mentioned it has such a humane cast to it. Though I searched out the essay my student mentioned, I’m still resisting reading it, because I love the idea of it that I garnered from her paper—something about how the face represents the other and also the other’s vulnerability, so the face is always saying, in a way, take care of me.
For just about a year, I worked at Unnameable Books in Brooklyn. I miss many things about working there, but I do not miss my nightly struggle to close the metal rolling gate properly. You use a pole/hook to pull down the grate, and then go hand-over-hand on the chain, and then must line up the lock properly and thread the hook back into the chain. There was a particular way to do this, and my height, lack of dexterity, and basic non-understanding of spatial relations made it very difficult for me to pull this action off with any ease or grace. I thought I’d always remember the precise steps I fumbled, but now the cloud of remembered frustration murks the details. The soundtrack to this video is amazing. (Boney M.)
I can no longer find whatever page had those lyrics posted several weeks ago. I wanted to find them because it sounds as if she’s saying “I’ve been trying, can’t touch my babe,” and then goes on to detail all the ways she’s trying to reach him and can’t, and I thought “can’t touch” was such a nice way to say that. The lyrics I’d found said something different and less interesting, so it’s fine that I’ve lost them to the ether. The link above is to the song instead.
I love how the delivery puts the emphasis less on the duration of the “visit” and more on the visitor’s inevitable departure. The recorded version is six minutes long.
Is it hilarious, sad, or pragmatic that this is a way to remember a year? I mostly wanted to find out when the Balkan Wars were happening. When they were happening, in 1992 and beyond, news of the war was information. There were too many details to understand. I was 15, I didn’t try. The summer after college, I heard a news story about how travel agencies were packaging cut-rate trips to the region, and my friend Chris and I wrote a song for our short-lived punk band with the refrain “Can I get a discount, cuz there’s a war going on?” Later, traveling in Europe, I read Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, which is about the history of Yugoslavia leading up to the years before World War II, when West traveled there for six weeks. I remember her descriptions of the gorgeous mosaics, the pristineness of the beaches in Dalmatia.
Easier said than done.
Didn’t this feel like the secret song on Out of Time? It hardly feels like a song—just creaks and twangs and Michael Stipe caught in a conversation with himself, a junk-box list of lyrics, words like rusted parts in a yard. Do you remember, you thought you heard him say “Fuck” — “Fuck off” or “Fuck all”—and how many times you had to rewind the tape to make sure you hadn’t imagined it?
Sara Jaffe’s short fiction and criticism have appeared in publications including Fence, BOMB, NOON, Paul Revere’s Horse, matchbook, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She co-edited The Art of Touring (Yeti, 2009), an anthology of writing and visual art by musicians drawing on her experience as guitarist for post-punk band Erase Errata. Her first novel will be coming out with Tin House in November 2015.