Friday, June 4, 2010

Dispatch from DC

Here I am in "our nation's capital."  I can say that because a) I'm a US citizen and b) well, I'm here.  I lived here for five years in the late 80s/early 90s, and I have to say - everytime I come back, I remember things I liked about it.  In my heart, Brooklyn is my constant, but DC has its charms.
     For example, today my dad and I went to the National Gallery of Art (East Wing) and saw "Beat Memories," photographs taken and commented upon by Allen Ginsberg.  Firstly, the museum is free.  No suggested donation, just flat-out free, and there are a lot more museums like it in the city.  Secondly, the exhibit was great.  My dad and I enjoyed it both together and separately.  My father was interested because it was an era he lived and participated in.  I was really interested because it gave me a picture of this incredible creative community that actually seemed to function as a community.  Writers shared work, collaborated with each other and other artists, and shared lives.  While Liss and I share a life that's both intimate and creative, I'm really jealous of this idea of a larger community.
     I'm a lapsed member of a writing group, but it's hardly a substitute for people who are involved with each other's daily and creative lives, lives that are intertwined.  I definitely don't have that.  I write alone.  I'm reluctant to share work with well-meaning friends who say, "Oh, I'd love to read something you've written;" maybe it's because I think they're just being polite (and hell, most of them don't even read my blog).  There's very little of that cross-hybridization that seemed to be depicted in the Ginsberg photographs, and maybe that makes me a little sad.  I know it wasn't all milk and honey, but it seemed passionate and fecund.
     Afterwards we headed to the Sculpture Garden to hear a little jazz.  Yes, it was free.  There were a lot of people there, having picnics, meeting with friends, listening to music, and I was a little jealous, not because I wasn't with my own friends but because it's something I wish I could just do on a given Friday afternoon in the summer.  I know that this can be a bonus of living in a bigger city, and maybe I haven't tapped into similar happenings in Hamilton, but I'm not harbouring any illusions.
     Again, it's about making a life and accepting responsibility for it.  Sometimes I'd like some more options.


  1. Interesting perspective Claudia. I caution to remind you that that generation, the Beat generation, had/has a high opinion of themselves. My generation, by and large, does not. Without going into some in depth analysis of generational ego construct, I will say I've hit my own generation gap wall with boomers (tepid apologies to any reading this)and thier continued self importance and endless journey to 'find themselves'. It's oppressive. Buy a map already. It was no great shakes for women writers during that period either. Living off crumbs of publishing and entertainment earnings. That wholesale close out spurned a lot of what arose in the first waves of feminist critique coming out of that corner at the time. Wax nostalgic if you want, but make sure it's not after something that may really be an illusion. Hugs.

  2. PS- free is good. free art is really really good. :)

  3. Aretemis - points well taken. But I read the post as more about longing for a semblance of an artistic community and therefore projecting onto the Ginsberg photos rather than purely about nostalgia for that particular (male, arrogant, problematic) artistic community. Perhaps this is because it is something Claudia and I talk about because it we are missing it right now and have had in the past. Just look at the credits on any number of Diane's films, and you'll see how intertwined our artistic lives were in Brooklyn... Kathy High and I talk about this - it was a particular time and place in all our lives... hard to replicate outside major centers.

  4. Liss, thanks for the clarification. I HAD read it differently, of course, outside the context you provide. When Claudia writes 'There's very little of that cross-hybridization that seemed to be depicted in the Ginsberg photographs, and maybe that makes me a little sad.", my own propensity to mistake illusion for something else, surfaced. A bittersweet evocation for what was, and is no longer, is quite different than wishing for something that wasn't there in the first place, especially if we hope, or even worse, deeply need that illusory thing to feed us. It was to THAT risk I caution myself and others not to succumb to.

    I am intimate with this feeling and most of my own creative expression centers around that exact theme. It can be an abyss of feeling of the most existential crises making kind. Great for creative process, not so good if I'm seeking the bluebird of happiness in my own backyard. I can see now that that's possibly what Claudia was striving for in her closing. How to bring some of what she longed for in the photos into her live in a real way.