Directions to the Palace: Seek out Giacometti’s “The Palace at 4 a.m.” Go back precisely two hours. See towers and curtain walls of matchsticks, marble, marbles, light, cloud at stasis. Walk in. The beggar queen is dreaming on her throne of words… Welcome. You have arrived at the web home of Marly Youmans, maker of novels, poetry collections, and stories, as well as the occasional fantasy for younger readers.
Why the People Disliked Art, Circa 2005: dead ends and ways forward
Michael Miller, Sphinx, July 2006, Μουσείο Ακρόπολης / Acropolis Museum
Here is a poem first published inElectric Velocipede and included in my new book, The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2005.) Before I wrote this poem, I was thinking about how most people simply can't read a great deal of art criticism any more--such prose being another unintended victim of Modernism and its heirs. If you're not "in the club," much of contemporary art criticism will not make a great deal of sense to a casual or serious reader and is a kind of "lunacy." (That idea is a source for the recent book, The Rape of the Masters, an enlightening and painfully amusing read.) And yet I was rather fond of reading art books as a child and teen: and shouldn't an art book be open to a bright young person? It's sad to think that what should be an "open book" would now be a closed one.
The poem makes a turn from the abstract art-criticism epigraphs toward what is terribly real and toward what matters, and in doing so leaps straight for the classical world, the tragedy of Oedipus (who was both seed and unwitting seeder in his mother's womb), and one of the oldest, hoariest, most meaningful, and most forbidden rhymes in English letters, womb / tomb. It rejects something contemporary and flawed in order to dive back through the tradition for renewal: in my mind, the only way to move forward into the future.
Michael Miller, Sphinx
from the Acropolis Museum, July 2006
Why People Disliked Art, Circa 2005
. . . invents puzzles out of non sequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situation, whether visual or spatial . . . inhabits those insterstitial spaces between understanding and confusion. --Trinie Dalton
. . . the rumblings of a new movement to bring those shifts
into earshot, diagramming their overlap as a corporeal sphere
of listening . . . an oft-referenced vertex in sound art’s expanding scaffold. –Lucy Raven
Another way of accounting for this overall emptiness or lack that the painting bespeaks is that the Female Child enclosedwithin this geometric or ideological box is also trapped in an ideological box: the lack of the father’s E, his penis.
Can you compare this lunacy
To an ordinary thing?
Imagine, say, an animal
That pads into a ring
Of bones to sleep. A bit afraid,
You think to creep on by,
Not wishing to arouse a beast
And meet a lustrous eye
Or hear a crinkle of the wings
Or tightening of thighs—
This is a spot of mystery,
This is the Vale of Sighs
Not far from Thebes. If you’re a man,
You’ll have pictured the breasts
And dreamed the passion of a kiss.
The Sphinx’s face arrests
All who pass near. The Theban gods
May make you glad or vex
Your life with trial: you are bones
Or Oedipus, the Rex.
And all this means so much to you;
It mattered from the start
If that chorus of olive trees
Were accident or art,
Whether your flesh and seed would root
Inside your mother’s womb,
If you were born to kill your dad,
Blood crying from the tomb.
The Throne of Psyche Mercer University Press, 2011, 106 pages
Hardcover jacket and paperback cover
from "Touched" by Clive Hicks-Jenkins