I took very few photos in Vienna seeing as my camera died shortly after we arrived. There is G, my stereotypically-Italian travel mate. He called me ‘Yankee’ the entire trip so I feel okay lovingly referring to him as ‘Mafia.’
Note: I’ll keep my more personal, and therefore my useless, writing on this here tumblr. The wordpress will be for more professional, and hopefully at least a tinge more useful, writing.
We’ve been herded onto a bus after a hail storm delayed our train to Ceske Budejovice. Some Canadians, Spaniards carrying backpacks. An old man, dry mouth stained ink-blue (blueberries?) argues with — or speaks emphatically to — one of the train attendants.
Dense. The villages and towns in this country are dense - Prague shares this heavy feeling. These towns and cities can sit in your stomach like the compressed steamed dough of Czech dumplings. These forests we slide past are thick and stick as night, narrow matchstick-beech trees, meld into black.
Chotycany. Ryblik. Kolin. At each station we pass, a train attendant stands outside in his uniform, watching, a staple in the countryside. Each station looks the same as the one before: a small, yellow old building, a few benches outside, some flowers leaning out of the windows. Occasionally a couple travelers sitting on their backpacks with a bag of rohliks in their hand.
Leaning my face out the window of the racing train, the dense brush whips past me, inches from my skin. A veil of purple-grey fog, a moist lilac frost, hangs over the railroad ahead, dotted with yellow lamposts.
Everything is aglow and shrouded in this misty purple twilight. Every time I return to the open window, my thoughts are cleansed and refreshed by the purity of the chilled air.
The smell of wood and smoke — something particular in the Czech and Slovak countryside. But I also smelled this in Prague on one of the first days I moved here, two years ago.
You know, that woody, smokey smell? I asked E in the city center. That medieval smell.
Yeah, that is the smell of Prague, she said.
On the bus we turn a dirt road corner, at which there is a small memorial to someone who has died at that very place. Candles, flowers, statues of the Virgin Mary collected together in a dense Czech village around a single cross, tiny but glowing amidst the silent trees.
The old man with a blue mouth (and blue-stained left hand, clutching a plastic bag) is standing in the aisle as the bus bumps along; non-Czech backpackers have filled all the seats. He’s a tiny man.
The bus stops and a few travelers weighed down with backpacks hop out, realize they are at the wrong stop, look at each other like deer in headlights. The bus rattles on, and a dry smile cracks open the old man’s face.
“Too many freaking tourists today,” he announces in Czech, to everyone on the bus.
Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.
To the train window, gusts of shocking bitter-cold air — then back again to the notebook in the compartment. From cold to warmth. These purple train rides as twilight turns to dusk, and as the chill Czech fall arrives in early August, are the best places to rinse thoughts.
This train is one of the older ones, it’s bumpy and screeches like slow, wincing hell when it comes to a stop. The seats are not very comfortable, and I only have a tiny square for a writing platform, pulled out from underneath the window. But this cold discomfort, this lack of internet connection and modern pleasures; a dead phone and sleeping companions all lodged in this dirty Czech train passing impenetrable black forests, makes for a good place to put things down on those old-fashioned utensils called paper and pen.
— Arthur Koestler in The Act of Creation
At the moment, I’m under the impression that in art, you can do anything you want. Not in an indolent or blatantly rebellious sort of way (well, certainly rebellious in some ways), but in a respectful and disciplined way.
As long as you have a strong concept and excellent execution, you can do whatever you want, with respect to an education and understanding of your place in art history… the concepts with which you play… and discipline in the way you handle your ideas, dialogue, technique and references. In a way, this gives me an excuse to not create such hard divisions between writing and art, journalism and design.
I once had a teacher who stopped me in the foyer of the old Barney building to chat. (We spoke for half an hour even though I was on a bathroom break for another class).
“What if art schools were run like medical schools?” he asked me. ”With that total discipline. Deadlines would be deadlines, and you wouldn’t be able to make excuses or bullshit your way through a critique. There’s so much emphasis on conceptual art in this school; but there should also be that emphasis on disciplined technical skills.
Besides, in order to make good conceptual art, you have to have good ideas… And to have good ideas, you have to be disciplined, and read.”
He was a great teacher.
Hello everyone, this is the work of my talented friend Kay. She worked really hard on this painting and the original commissioner backed out so contact her if you’d like a pug in an astronaut suit (wtf, right? if you’re going to commission something, man, seriously…)