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Code Unknown: Tutelage (Old Standbys)

By Bill Berkson
Edwin Denby in Rudy Burckhardt's Lurk, 1964

Edwin Denby in Rudy Burckhardt’s Lurk, 1964

Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. They listen so much that they forget to be natural. This is a nice story.
Gertrude Stein, “Reflections on the Atom Bomb,” 1946

*

He got into a conversation that had started before him.
Boris Pasternak on Osip Mandelstam

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One night a kid was thinking
in bed
about something.
It hit him like a rock––
Poetry, poetry, poetry.

—John Thorpe

*

Meaning is a peculiar thing in poetry—as peculiar as meaning in politics or loving. In writing poetry a poet can hardly say that he knows what he means. In writing he is more intimately concerned with holding together a poem, and that is for him its meaning.
Edwin Denby

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Poetry should be something real, not just an interesting lie to tell your mother.
Ted Berrigan

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When Poetry meets Painting one begins to wonder about Art.
—Ted Berrigan and Bill Berkson (by telephone circa 1982)

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Painting is never anything but a construction in ethics.
Charles Baudelaire, “Salon of 1846”

*

For such things as we all know are done and not said—indeed not saying them is a necessary condition for their being done.
—Leonardo Sciascia, The Moro Affair

*

Abstract emotion is when you wake up in the morning and feel happy for no reason.
—Agnes Martin

*

I could learn a lot from a pile of Nixon under a stoop.
Amiri Baraka

*

So many lousy poets
So few good ones
What’s the problem?
No innate love of
Words, no sense of
How the thing said
Is in the words, how
The words are themselves
The thing said: love,
Mistake, promise, auto
Crack-up, color, petal,
The color in the petal
Is merely light
And that’s refraction:
A word, that’s the poem.
A blackish-red nasturtium …..

James Schuyler, from “The Morning of the Poem”

*

What kind of thing is that for a grown man to be doing?
—Alex Katz on Morton Feldman

*

Every time you humans encounter a structure you don’t understand you call it a thing.
—Mr. Spock, Star Trek

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….childhood perfected and sustained.
—Guy Davenport on Charles Baudelaire

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Consider our derivation from our immediate past of a quarter of a second ago. We are continuous with it, the same as it, prolonging its affective tone, enjoying its data…. This is the mystery of personal identity, the mystery of the immanence of the past in the present.
—Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought

*

Art is either complaint or appeasement.
—Jasper Johns

*

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
—Frederick Douglas (as if apropos 1968 et passim)

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…. the calculated production of uncertainty.
—Adam Phillips on flirtation

*

When did the dumb bunny bomb first hit USA?
Philip Whalen

*

The only truth is face to face.
Frank O’Hara, “Ode: Salute to the French Negro Poets”

*

for with regret I leave the lovely world men made
despite their bad character their art is mild

—Edwin Denby, “Ciampino: Envoi,” Mediterranean Cities

*

It’s as if the language wants to say this.
Bernadette Mayer

*

To be right is the most terrific personal state that no one is interested in.
—Frank O’Hara, “Franz Kline Talking”

*

Which is a fact.
—Gertrude Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts

Alex Katz, Sunny #4, oil on canvas, 1971, 96 1/4 x 72 1/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum

Alex Katz, Sunny #4, oil on canvas, 1971, 96 1/4 x 72 1/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum

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Posted in Featured Blogger on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 by Bill Berkson.