I went to MoMA with my old friend John McClure last Thursday, to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit. I was overwhelmed by the audacity of the show, and, as a result, have since returned to buy the catalog and a translation from the German of a book on her “History Portraits.”
Tomorrow I’ll return to map the rooms and write up what I think, but meanwhile I can say that “The Weight of the Past” got a lot heavier since Thursday. The petrification of all motion–working backward toward still life, mere death–is the thematic of the show, the trajectory of Sherman’s career.
But Eliot! I just read T. J. Clark’s profoundly stupid piece in NLR, where the tragic sensibility is touted as the Left’s best refuge in these troubled times for socialism–I almost puked–and went looking for old information on Eliot’s undergraduate education at Harvard (James Longenbach’s book on this is quite useful) because Clark’s elegiac tone and frame of reference (Shakesepearean tragedy) made me think of The Wasteland.
I came across this in my brief travels, a letter to Conrad Aiken, New Year’s Eve 1914: “Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to be dead.” Just so, I would say, as a retort to Cindy Sherman. Nah. I’ll put it as a question. Do you like being dead?
And only an hour ago, Greg Foster the Rat Man and I discussed the block association meeting to be held next Wednesday, May 30th, where community funding for his traps will be discussed. Like I said, I second that emotion.