Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Nabokov’

Morning Coffee with Dave & Vladimir (not Putin!)

September 10, 2018


. . . my gray-haired friend, my beloved old conjurer, put a pack of index cards into his hat–and shook out a poem.

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

What a sea-change in my reading! I have no prior experience reading Nabokov, and the librarian where I taught high school turned me on to this volume a couple of years ago. I made a couple of stabs at reading it when too busy as a teacher, but now, in these quieter days, am becoming absorbed into it.

This novel is cast in the form of a 999-line poem, composed in heroic couplets, and divided into four cantos, written during the final twenty days of a poet’s life, and now presented by his colleague, along with commentary on the four cantos. The fiction story emerging from this text was already gripping before I even finished reading the Foreword by the colleague, posing as narrator. These two fiction characters, an old and young professor, along with the intrigue surrounding the deceased’s murder, has me turning the pages back and forth, between poem and commentary, and I am absolutely loving the adventure.

I was particularly smitten by the quote posted above, because it reminded me of what was said about the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, with his way of “shaking houses out of his sleeve.” I also recall stories of  the Rolling Stones waiting restlessly around their London studio while Keith Richards, the guitarist, was downstairs picking at his guitar waiting for inspiration to strike. I spend many mornings in my reading at the desk, hoping for some kind of Word from the muse as I pore over texts and explore ideas. I believe that I struck pay dirt this morning. I am so inspired by these ideas that I have resolved to finish the details of my college grading and class preparations as quickly as possible this day so I can return to the art studio this afternoon/evening and see what I can shake out of my hat or sleeve. Perhaps I can open pages from my sketchbook and shake out a painting.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


A Good Day for Nesting

February 28, 2015
Still Grading, but in a Better Location

Still Grading, but in a Better Location

Right now, here in Paris, we have seven different nests. That’s not counting our old water mill, two hundred miles from Paris. I spend half my time rousting out, fixing up, furnishing these nesting places.

Rats’ nesting’s what it all is; can’t seem to keep myself from burrowing, digging in; always stuffing bits and pieces into one corner or another.

William Wharton, Scumbler

The Winter Wonderland! A second consecutive day,snowbound in Arlington, Texas (strangest of places for this to happen). Untold blessings have unfolded in this experience, probably the greatest was fulfilling this desire for nesting. Possessing zero skills for interior decorating, I nevertheless love the ongoing process of creating nests throughout my home. Today saw the emergence of several more reading nooks, small libraries, cozy corners with reading chairs and lamps, along with some alterations to my art studio and music rooms. Finding just the right niche for guitars, amps, drafting tables and writing desks has added to the pleasure. Though I still have this grading albatross about my neck, I find now a more suitable place to carry out my onerous task.

The stereo that has lived in the garage studio for a few years now has been moved to my living room, and what a delight I found in getting reacquainted with my old Pioneer turntable! About ten years ago, I received this second-hand turntable as a gift from my brother, and once word got out that I was saying Yes to vinyl, many friends starting unloading their collections on me, and I in turn began visiting vintage vinyl stores in Fort Worth, Arlington and St. Louis. This resulted in a shelf with a couple of hundred albums, many of which I have not yet heard. Today I put on Stephen Stills, Manassas (I have no idea who gave it to me, but I never took it out of its cover till now) and WOW! What an incredible sound! The turntable has spun all afternoon as I’ve revisited Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and a stack of Jazz albums awaits. At least I can grade to music well into the cold night.

My new reading nooks have been outfitted with Annie Dillard’s Living by Fiction and Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. These wonderful creative spirits have provided wonderful, cozy company when I’ve taken breaks from the grading nemesis. The music studio has also provided a healthy diversion from a humdrum kind of task-driven day. The acoustic and electric guitars compete for my attention now, but that’s a good thing. So much music waits to be explored. I actually started writing a new composition of my own a few days ago and am glad to see it gaining momentum.

O.K., this has been a nice change of pace. Papers wait to be graded. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

First the Blade, then the Ear, after that . . .

August 31, 2014

My High School Classroom, First Day

For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

Mark 4:28 (King James Version)

Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been.


Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I want to offer a few thoughts about “a little at a time.”  While regarding life’s growth in small, unobservable links, Thoreau wrote that he himself was developing as “corn in the night.”  Hemingway, in A Moveable Feast, revealed that he could write for an entire morning, and finish with only “one true sentence”.  when experiencing fears associated with writer’s block in Paris between 1921 and 1926, he found ways to speak sternly to himself:

“Do not worry.  You have always written before and you will write now.  All you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”

I am now reading with great delight Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.  I have read nothing from Nabokov before, though I acknowledge that his greatness has been sung in my hearing for years.  As it took me until this summer to read Melville’s Moby Dick in its entirety, I now turn, in my later years, to another legendary author and his work.

Pale Fire, in the Foreword, speaks of the meticulous work of John Francis Shade in constructing his final poem in four cantos.  As I read of his meticulous daily work, I recalled testimonies from Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound, men devoted to the meticulous craft of writing.

Today, over the Labor Day holiday, having finished my first week of high school and second week of college, I am thinking of the necessity of working daily and consistently on my projects, even though it means incremental gains.  At least there will be something to show when my projects roll off the assembly lines, whenever that may be.  I do have some deadlines one week away.  My painting, my reading, my journaling, my writing, and (hopefully) my publishing shall be completed, only if I am willing to give them daily attention.  For a couple of weeks now, I have felt overwhelmed at the projects I have wanted to accomplish, and all of that has translated into an inertia, and nothing was done from day to day aside from the chronic demand and grind of accomplishing my classroom responsibilities.  I am just as busy now as I have ever been before, except that I am not managing to get my “artful” projects accomplished.  But I shall, little by little, and will watch with delight as my work grows “like corn in the night.”

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.