1999 Notebook: Interval XXI

11 July 1999
The French Have a Word For It
Yvonne is in a strange state. She assures me that the French have a word for it, but she doesn't know what it is.

12 July 1999
Greater Than the Sum of Its Arts
Kirsten, after reading a few pages from this notebook, wrote to ask, "Where is the art? Worthless or otherwise."

I can understand Kirsten's confusion. The last time I saw her, I was working almost exclusively in the medium of worthless photography. And now I'm doing this boringness. There's a lot of real estate between worthlessness and boringness.

I told Kirsten that these hundreds of little pieces of writing, when combined, have a cumulative effect. The collection has a quality not found in any of the individual pieces: the hole is greater than the sum of its arts.

Kirsten is a scientist doing things I don't understand; I fear my work may be similarly unintelligible to her.

Vladimir Nabokov asked, "Does there not exist a high ridge where the mountainside of 'scientific' knowledge joins the opposite slope of 'artistic' imagination?" There may be such a place, but since I would probably need ropes, crampons, oxygen, and perhaps some sturdy Sherpas to get there, I doubt I'll be meeting Kirsten on that hypothetical crest anytime soon.

13 July 1999
Dim Bulb Confirmed
I read that the human brain generates roughly the same amount of heat as a twenty watt light bulb. This fact strikes me as quite amusing. It would appear that all my teachers who called me a dim bulb were, in fact, correct.

14 July 1999
A Better Art (History) Museum
After I recently told a friend I rarely go to art museums any more, she asked what I'd do to make them better.

I told her that I thought that was impossible; "art museum" seems like an oxymoron. I thought the concept of an "art history museum" might work; that's all most "art museums" really are, anyway.

The question of how I would make them better is difficult to answer, since it's unclear whether that means "making them better for me" or "making them better for their current audience." About the only thing that would make an art history museum a more pleasant place for me would be to offer free wine and hors d'ouvres all the time. That's the secret of making bland art palatable at gallery openings; I'm sure it would work for museums, too.

When it comes to making most other visitors happy, though, I have an idea that might actually be financially feasible.

I've noticed that most art history museums allocate about five percent of their floor space to the gift shop. I've also noticed ninety-five percent of museum visitors seem to be crammed, jowl to jowl, inside those gift shops. The solution is obvious: a popular art history museum should devote ninety-five percent of its floor space to the gift shop and should use the remaining five percent of space for exhibitions.

Why hasn't someone done this already?

15 July 1999
Seeing It for the First Time Twice
I'm sitting in a bar with Randy, who's getting spectacularly drunk on an aesthetic pretext.

(I must interrupt the story now. Randy's just read the preceding sentence on my electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text, and insists that I "set the record straight for future generations yet unborn." So I will note Randyıs claim, as opposed to my own, that he is not getting spectacularly drunk on an aesthetic pretext; he is, in fact, getting spectacularly drunk on eight double whiskys.)

Randy's about to see Stanley Kubrick's last film, Eyes Wide Shut, for the first time. Randy loves Kubrick's work, so he's getting drunk enough that he won't be able to remember many parts of the film. He assures me that this strategy will allow him to watch the film for the first time twice.

16 July 1999
Hazardous, Horrendous, Stupendous, and Tremendous
I just received a brief note from Pia. Although I pride myself in keeping my personal correspondence private, I'll make a rare exception and reproduce her note in its entirety.

    Dear David,

    There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous." They are, in alphabetical order, hazardous, horrendous, stupendous, tremendous. This is something I thought you really need to know.

    Ciao for now,


Really? I can't imagine why I needed to know that, especially since there are at least eleven other words that end in "dous." I wonder if Pia really needs to know about apodous, biohazardous, chilopodous, decapodous, hexapodous, iodous, isopodous, jeopardous, molybdous, nodous, and vanadous?

Probably not.

17 July 1999
Richard Avedon Photographing Beautiful Women
It's been over a decade since Albert Watson remarked, "If I were Richard Avedon, still doing Mademoiselle covers at 65, I'd blow my brains out."

I wonder why Richard Avedon is still photographing beautiful women? I can't imagine that he needs the money. And where's the challenge? Beautiful women and mountains are easy to photograph. They've already done all the work of looking enticing; all the photographer has to do is press the button.

gratuitous image
18 July 1999
Marjorie Graham (snaportrait)
Marjorie is a friend of mine.

19 July 1999
Hoisted By My Own Small Firecracker
I recently made an embarrassing mistake. Without going into the tawdry details, suffice it to say that I was too clever by half.

After Claudio gleefully noted that I'd been "hoisted by my own petard," I went back to the lab to find out what in the hell a "petard" is. My lame dictionary told me it was either a "small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall" or "a loud firecracker." To further confuse things, it added that "petard" came from Old French and Latin words meaning "to break wind."

During the course of trying to find out what a "petard" is (breaking wind?!), I got the sinking feeling that I'd been once again hoisted by my own small, bell-shaped bomb.

20 July 1999
Two Aging Problems
There are only two things I dislike about getting older: measuring time in decades instead of years, and beginning sentences with, "When I was your age ..."

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart