"There must be some closing of the gates after thirty if the mind is to become a creative force"
- Howards End, E.M. Forster
Today, I went to find my copy of “Just Kids”, the book Patti Smith wrote about her early days in New York with Robert Mapplethorpe. I was unable to locate it in the gloomy dark of my apartment, so I turned on the light, even though I dislike unnatural light in the morning. Weird quirk, but I tend to stumble around in the dark, without my glasses, in the morning, possibly in an attempt to ignore that I’ve had to wake up. It’s the physical embodiment of one of those gradual light alarm clocks. Some people like to meditate, I stumble around in the dark.
Anyhow, I was unable to locate the book. I did notice, however, the five stacks of books that have piled up in front of the books that are actually filed on my bookshelves. A year ago I cleaned the shelves, gave away 5 brown paper grocery bags of books, and started on yet another campaign for a Spartan simplicity in my apartment. My apartment is crowded with remnants of my attempts at simplicity.
I was overwhelmed by the books I have yet to read. Last year, I scoured my shelves to leave only the books I hadn’t read, or ones that are very special to me, and once again, the shelves are filled. I have more in my garage. There’s the works of Montaigne, kinda slow to read when you’re also looking at the French on the opposite page, though interesting. The Twyla Tharp creativity book. Biographies about Patti LuPone and Ethel Merman. The Age of Wonder ; stories by Etgar Keret, Karen Russell, and Adam Haslett; a novel by Steve Martin; Proust was a Neuroscientist,; and the two books I just got this week, Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon, about children; and Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story. I also finally got Hero with a Thousand Faces, since I’d only ever read about Joseph Campbell. The list goes on.
I bring this up because I think I’m feeling a little overstuffed. Tonight I’m going to hear Patti Smith speak, which is why I wanted to find the book for her to sign. Tomorrow is a talk with Bernard Cooper and George Saunders, both of whom I’m excited to hear read and talk. Sunday I saw the spectacular reconstruction of the Nijinsky/Stravinsky Rite of Spring by the Joffrey Ballet. Friday night, I saw a great central performance of a solid, fun, ecstatic, interesting play at Sacred Fools called Absolutely Filthy. The main character is Pig Pen at 30, a homeless, meth addict. The writer and main actor, Brendan Hunt, hula hoops for the entire show while playing the character. Beyond being a virtuoso feat, coupled with the Nijinsky it started me thinking about madness, movement and Sacrifice. That’s been percolating.
During the Rite of Spring, I was thinking of how I would write about it, which is my usual reaction to anything, especially something I love so much and have a long relationship with. One look at my blog will tell you how often that happens. So perhaps I would feel a little less overstuffed if I got some of this out. That might be a solution.
And I don’t even want to talk about what’s on my DVR. I seem to only be able to watch Project Runway, RuPaul's Drag Race, and an occasional episode of Louie or Bunheads.
The quote above is one of my favorites from one of my favorite books, and I've mentioned it before. Perhaps heeding it is a good idea, but it's very challenging, especially in a city with so much to offer. I guess this is the nature of living in what is understatedly termed “A crowded media landscape?”