Music while


(Jeremy Denk plays Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’  via NPR First Listen . I shall not try to decipher for I do not know music.)

I know nothing, really, about anything which brings us round to my original thought for this evening’s post:

is it still okay to blog when I am an authority on nothing?

Is it okay for me to expound on the latest piece of art spied at the local gallery via a weaving of words in rumination and prose/poetry? Is that just word vomit, as one of my classmates opined today in the forum? May I write about Emily Dickinson – share thoughts on #___ or #____ – imagining the possibilities from her small hands?  Should I cast away everything, even the creative voice that whispers via lines of poetry, because of no MFA?

YHC is just a place to express thoughts,  but many of my classmates feel this should only be done by the professionally educated, not anyone with a keyboard and connection. I may create misinformation….what do you think?


(changing brews –  a quick note about drowning)

In no time the black river yoked all my strength
I saw the lesser waters great and the soft banks steep and high.

The above are the first two lines  (7 lines in total) from Egon Schieles’s poem, “Music While Drowning”.  Two days ago, I didn’t know who Egon Schiele was until Mark Kerstetter shared “Portrait of Wally”. Since then there has been a snowball effect – Schiele has suddenly taken over my world with sweet serendipity.

You see, at the used book shop yesterday, I found, “Egon Schiele’s Portraits” by Alessandra Comini. It was a bit more than I usually like to spend, but it was so well reviewed on the back, and a National Book Award finalist in 1974, the copy called to me. Before leaving, still searching for art books, I visited the $2.00 area. Without much thought, a thin volume of German Expressionism poetry caught my eye. I bought it for the woodcuts, not realizing in 24 hours it would mean so much more.

After reading the first chapter of Comini’s book on Schiele, I decided to read a bit of poetry. As I skimmed the table of contents for a place to start, I found three poems by Schiele listed. Ironically, I had just written in the margins of Comini’s book a thought on portrait and writing:  could a poet compose a self-portrait? Schiele, it seems, questioned the same thing:

I am everything at once, but never will I do everything at once. – “Self Portrait 1″ Egon Schiele

There are actually two self-portrait poems by Schiele, the above and “Self Portrait 2″, but I do not like to fringe on copyright, so shall not post no. 2 – it is rather long.

Schiele, from what I can discern after the first chapter, helped to change portraiture. Gustave Klimt paved the way for this new expression of portrait, and Schiele took it to another level with his technique and content. Schiele was in part, a product of his time, as German Expressionism had started to appear in painting, as well as music, dance, and literature.  It had become vogue to reflect in one’s art – exploring the depths of the inner psyche. (tbc)

*A brief note on Egon Schiele (1890-1918) – he was an Austrian painter – part of the Viennese Expressionism movement. Hence, it was not expected to find him included in the German Expressionism poetry book.

I am inspired to fit Schiele into my course readings, as well as visit something I used to enjoy despite the lack of talent. You’ve been forewarned, self-portrait attempts may be posted in the future.  I guess this really is a blog that should be avoided, especially if you fear drowning ~ 

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  1. Hmmm, authority…just where is that (imaginary?) line between novice and authority? As for misinformation, well there are plenty of authoritative types spewing it in every direction. If you hadn’t written, and if I had not read your post, I may never have become aware of Schiele, been moved to think about German Expressionism, or listened to that particular piece by Bach, who by the way, according to another blogger, was considered a Bad Boy in his day and may have given birth to what evolved into heavy metal – true? I don’t know, but if I decide to care I will learn a whole lot more about Bach and all thanks to some non-authority of a blogger.

    So I say let the critics/authorities do their thing, and we can keep on thinking and blogging and trying to stay afloat.

    • Thank you for weighing in, Ronald. I’m rather apt to agree about discovering a wealth of information from my fellow bloggers. I

  2. I enjoy reading you and the way your mind works. Experts are not the only ones worth listening to. The art once it is out there belongs to all of us. and why shouldn’t your attention, your understanding be worth less than someone elses ….?

    • Knowing you roots in academia, uma, I take your patience with my ramblings a great compliment. It is amazing, though, the backlash I read, even tonight, on my online class’s forum – so much disdain (and they are not even part of the system yet!)

  3. You will always remember me as the guy who introduced you to Schiele. And now I know he also wrote poems (wow). That is all the justification necessary for blogging. You know as well as I do that the Internet is glutted with self-proclaimed experts who don’t know shit – and nothing is more worthless than another blog post on the ten reasons why you must blah blah blah. And nothing, in mho, is more intellectually attractive than the statement, “I don’t know.” When someone says, “I don’t know” I immediately listen, first because it’s an indication of honesty, and second because it’s a possible sign of wisdom.

    I’m aware of the intellectual snobs out there who have disdain for bloggers, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest that only the “professionally educated” should blog! The people telling you that obviously need educating. If I didn’t know that there were cool people in academia I could go on an ugly rant right now. I doubt you’ll listen to these fools. But please don’t let them make you doubt your creative endeavors. There are “experts” out there who will happily suck your creative soul out, reform it in their own image, and inject it back into you.

    Something about Schiele: it may sound vulgar to say it outright, but he is only one of two artists I know of who used masturbation as a serious theme (which is kind of astonishing). The other one is the American novelist John Fante, in his novel ‘The Road to Los Angeles’.

    I want to see your self-portraits, and I want to read your poems. In the meantime, brew as randomly as you like.

    • Mark ~ I have to laugh at that, though, you have introduced me to so many wonderful thinkers and artist that Schiele shall just be a benchmark. As for masturbation in art, it is interesting for while looking though art books this weekend, I found a few – though maybe not at the extent of Schiele. You are one of the bloggers who always comes to mind while reading my peers rants about bloggers lack of knowledge because of lack of degree. You are so very well-rounded in your academic readings that your writing far surpasses the majority of those spouting content, context, blah blah blah! If I were more dedicated on my own, I wouldn’t need to follow a formal program! Thank you for continuing to read (and not minding if I post bad portraits or poetry). As an aside, I am going to dedicate more time to drawing – you and Schiele have me inspired to revisit portraits and think outside the mirror!

      • It’s my turn to ask, if you get the chance – could I have a few names of artists or works on the masturbation theme? (Come to think about it Dali did a painting or 2 on the theme.)

        I’m perturbed to hear about this disdain for autodidacts you’re encountering. I hope it’s just the same old, or even somehow a product of the particular class you’re in, and not indicative of a growing trend. But the Internet has been rattling several institutions – the universities and publishing to name the big 2. It puts some people on the defensive.

      • Sadly, I was just flipping through books rather random – one may have been Judy Chicago. Interesting note on theme, though, in intro of Portraits, it is stated that Klimt’s personal drawings very much delved into lesbian autoeroticism. Me being a researcher at heart, I Googled it, and many hits on auto, less on master – Dali and Pierre Molinaire (sp?)

        As an aside, found this blog tonight and thought of you ~

  4. Angela: I second everything Mark has said about your blog. I feel so much the same, particularly since I spend a lot of time discovering what I feel the “experts” already know. (Shostakovich is a case in point.) But it’s the discovering, and the sharing of one’s own response, that is the reason why, and a good one. And in re discovering, YOU are the one who alerted me, right here, right now, of the NPR first listen to Denk’s upcoming CD. I am listening as I write. You know, I have known these pieces for a long time, from the recording by Glenn Gould and my own feeble attempts to play a few of them. I’ve always been told Gould’s interpretation is idiosyncratic, and indeed it is amazing to hear Denk on these pieces. It’s as though I’m hearing them for the first time. Cannot wait to get the CD.

    One last thing: I was reminded yesterday of this piece by Eve Beglarian and wondered what you might think of it. I’ve never heard trombones sound so sweet.

    • Dear Sue ~ I hope you know that when I said what I said it was only about my own lack of knowledge and exploration. You are so dedicated to your research on music, it is amazing to read your ruminations. I only wish I had more time in 24 hours to be able to dedicate more time to the content of fine blogs such as yours and Marks. Thanks for the link, shall try to visit it tomorrow night (had a paper due tonight). Glad you enjoyed heads up on Denk – thought of you as you were the one who introduced me…I always check NPR on Sunday nights for what is new. ~ a

  5. My fervent wish is that you continue to create misinformation (if that is what it is) sufficient to bury a large number of swell chested, blue vein nosed know-it-alls. I, for one, value your inexpertise . . .



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