Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Without its overlays of "gloomy" or "depressing" or "miserable," the word "dismal" popped up this morning as if a person had walked into a room, approached a piano and idly hit a middle C.

It was not negative or positive. It just had a flavor and richness all by itself. There was vast potential that could follow in its singularity and yet, for the moment, it was its unadorned singularity that was somehow pleasing.

Like "shit," "dismal" felt like a tailor-made suit jacket -- smooth and silky and perfected in every way. What a flavor! Small and enormous all at once, inescapably present and yet smiling a small smile at the future ... "dismal."

This is not a topic to talk about, perhaps. The toxicity of academia crouches for the kill. The whines of the multitudinous mind are not far behind. Everyone wants a piece of the action and "dismal" gets no respite. Instead, it is attached and assessed and freighted with meaning. No reason it shouldn't, but this morning I like it alone and untouched and complete without complement. "Dismal."

I once saw some very large paintings in the Guggenheim Museum -- the 14 Stations of the Cross 'depicted' as black lines on white canvas. Très abstract. They irritated the shit out of me because the simplicity stood scant chance of transmitting itself to the on-looker and art that doesn't dare to be flawed and transmit strikes me as bullshit. While looking at the pictures, I ran into an artist friend of my mother's and expressed my irritation ... I really was pretty pissy. She tried to chill my jets by suggesting "well, perhaps it is an arrogance of simplicity."

As arrogant as "dismal" or the abstract 14 Stations of the Cross may be, still I suspect everyone has pinpoints of understanding or words or music or gestures that are teeny-tiny of themselves and yet resonate, rich and nourishing as horse manure. Backtracking into the future. Before the Big Bang. Something all by itself, unadorned, and yet reaching the furthest reaches like an angel.

OK, I've ruined it and the delight of "dismal" has been duly compromised and sullied. It's not exactly sad or something to communicate. It's just the way the cookie crumbles.

1 comment:

  1. I can hear Doris Day singing, "please, please, don't wreck the dismal".