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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spooky Beauty

I've been doing a lot of reading about people who have disappeared and how they are honored/remembered/mourned by those left behind. This is for a project I'm working on...Anyway, in doing so, I've run across a few interesting things including:

1) Stuff You Should Know has a display of 21 unusual epitaphs found on actual tombstones, including Martin David Huff, Sr.'s last declaration (or a declaration made on his behalf): "Inclined to mischief."

2) During my research, I ran across the intriguing story of child-prodigy novelist Barbara Newhall Follett, who disappeared at age 24 after a fight with her husband. Born in 1914, Barbara had her first novel published in 1927 (by Knopf!), when she was just twelve years old, to rave reviews. When her father, who worked in publishing and was able to facilitate her career, left the family for another woman, Barbara and her mother did some traveling until they ran out of money, necessitating Barbara's going to work as a secretary at age sixteen, without ever having graduated from high school. Early marriage and a sense of adventure and travel followed, but something went wrong in the marriage, and Barbara disappeared, though it is unclear if she did so willfully. You can read all about it at Farksolia, a website named after a place in Barbara's imagination that was the subject of her first novel. This website is curated by Barbara's half-sister's son, Stefan Cooke, who has also put together a book on the life and disappearance of his aunt. You can download Barbara's first novel, The House without Windows, and learn more about it here.

So much for spooky, here's beauty (although both of today's spooky entries have a sense of beauty about them):

3) Yesterday I went to the Kobe Biennale Exhibition at Meriken Park. Large shipping containers, more than 90 in total, are turned into private exhibitions for artists from all over the world. The theme is "Saku" or "Bloom," and it is manifest in many of the pieces offered. There are interactive installations that invite audience participation, 3D work, video installations, installations you enter, more traditional visual work, sculptures, ikebana (flower arranging), and calligraphy. Really interesting work; if you are in Kobe, you should go. Tickets are 1400 yen for the port installation only, and 1800 yen for a ticket that also gives you access to 3 museums over on Museum Road (the ticket is good for one admittance to each exhibit, at any time during the two months that Biennale runs). I got the 1800-yen ticket and am looking forward to seeing the other exhibits in a few weeks, when I have some free time.

ALSO: FREE ADMISSION for the 3-day weekend starting today: 10/12 - 10/ 14. Take advantage!!!

I saw some interesting work with shadows there that has me thinking hard.....

4)  Finally, I just finished reading Katherine Towler's &  Ilya Kaminsky's A God in the House: Poets Talk about Faith (Tupelo Press), a collection of essays. I have a marked ambivalence about God, religion, spirituality, but cannot stop reading, thinking, and looking on the subject, and was comforted by Christian Wiman's citation of Blaise Pascal in the book: " If you are searching for God, then you have found him." There are remarkable essays in here, but in particular I recommend those of Carolyn Forche, Kazim Ali, Jane Hirshfield, Jericho Brown, Li-Young Lee, and Alicia Ostriker. Many of the others were fascinating as well....This is a book worth having.