October 14th, 2010 / 2:35 pm
Random

Widows’ Work

This sentence–‚ÄúDavid was a big sweater, and I just remember the sweat marks on his pillow when I changed the cases”–I just feel it in my gut. And then there was this, also from last week. Can the “artistic value” of the work of the widow, the work that specifically pertains to the widow’s widowhood, ever eclipse the grief itself, the heartbreak-response of the audience? Can such work ever obtain its own terms? No, it seems to me. Which is also sort of heartbreaking, or at least one tentacle of the heartbreak.

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13 Comments

  1. Gabriel Rom

      Why is it that every time DFW is discussed people talk about gut-feelings and pure dread? Probably because the man was a genius and now he’s gone. Sad article.

  2. Jimmy Chen

      ha, i thought the image wasn’t loading. Malevich reference? Flickr spaceball gif? What is this darkness?

  3. Kristen Iskandrian

      Malevich, yep. A slightly crappy, un-nuanced .jpg of “Black Square” ;)

  4. Jimmy Chen

      interesting. an artist (i can’t remember the name) tried to upload malevich’s black square on flickr, and flickr screwed up and made the file a literal black square .jpg, which is funny, how high modernism meets internet errors.

  5. reynard seifert

      still seems nuanced, but it’s my screen’s limitations rather than the print itself, spOoOky

  6. Kyle Minor

      I still think about him almost every day.

  7. deadgod

      Oh. I truly didn’t get it! (I didn’t realize that you were foregrounding the celebrity of the grieved-for person.)

      I think knowing that it’s Wallace‘s sweat on the pillow intensified the – what – co-grief that visitors to Green’s show felt, if they’d already been moved by his writing. But –

      Have you ever visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington – “the black slab of shame”? For Americans, the Wall is a hell of a place – and you don’t need to know (or know that you know) a single name on it.

      The cruelly experienced – albeit not ontologically cruel – fact of mortality can be disclosed artistically in a way that takes a baseball bat to the tuning fork that is your ‘heart’. The best evidence I know?: Sit down some afternoon and read – it’s just a made-up story! – King Lear.

  8. deadgod

      ‘Can work about n ever eclipse n itself?’

      A mark, such as an instance of language usage, always indicates, occasionally catalyzes, rarely transforms.

      What does “eclipse the grief” mean here? What would actually have happened to “the grief” for it, metaphorically, to have been ‘eclipsed’?

      (Not teasing; don’t quite – or at all – understand what’s being asked about/of Green’s piece.)

  9. Daniel Bailey

      destroyer has a song called “the sublimation hour” with this line:

      “don’t spend your life conceiving
      that the widow’s won’t get sick of their grieving.”

      which is maybe somewhat related to this post.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV75zugzPJc

  10. Kristen Iskandrian

      I understand your comment. I guess that I mean is, would people “appreciate” the work, beyond its subject–in this case, if the memorialized were Hobo Joe, and not DWF, not Plath? Do their lives, their legacies, overshadow the “artistry” of Green/Hughes/x ? Of course such questions are entirely subjective, but the dead author/living testament binary struck me as interesting enough to ponder, especially from such an intimate vantage point.

  11. Kristen Iskandrian

      Perfect. Thank you.

  12. deadgod

      But her voice caught as she tried to explain the pillow.

      That’s an effective sentence of Russo’s. The mundanity and diversity of ‘to catch’ are left behind by the shape of this empathy-kindling sentence.

      “[Language] doesn’t stop, but it’s never enough.”

      Green’s remark is also effective, both theoretically and emotively. Language works and persists in working, regardless of whether it does what some particular act of it is intended to do. One also understands, in the context of the discussion, that Green is both grief-stricken and not only grief-stricken. The achievements of an artfully done act of language can’t be schematized by any number of thrown switches.

      the more sinister, trickster side of language

      Russo herself illustrates this phrase (of hers) when she follows Green’s claim that Green would “rather work at Starbucks” – and keep her artistic activity free from art-world commercial pressure – by stating with a dead-pan parenthesis how much money Green made from the show how quickly.

      Still not sure about ‘eclipsing’, in either the artist or the audience, generative or sympathetic (respectively) emotion.

  13. deadgod

      Oh. I truly didn’t get it! (I didn’t realize that you were foregrounding the celebrity of the grieved-for person.)

      I think knowing that it’s Wallace‘s sweat on the pillow intensified the – what – co-grief that visitors to Green’s show felt, if they’d already been moved by his writing. But –

      Have you ever visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington – “the black slab of shame”? For Americans, the Wall is a hell of a place – and you don’t need to know (or know that you know) a single name on it.

      The cruelly experienced – albeit not ontologically cruel – fact of mortality can be disclosed artistically in a way that takes a baseball bat to the tuning fork that is your ‘heart’. The best evidence I know?: Sit down some afternoon and read – it’s just a made-up story! – King Lear.