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  • John Diamond-Nigh

Fabulous things

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

“Fabulous things, #stars”, writes Louis #Glück in her best book, #Averno. After an atrocious week and the vaseline amnesia of Lindsay Graham and half of the American congress, that’s what I wanted––stars. I wanted the color black, the mystery of shadows, the memories of snow, the stories of friends. Eclectic consolations. I jotted a few of them down.

#1. A friend, conducting research on bootleg mining in Pennsylvania (the scavenging of coal from abandoned commercial mines), described stepping into a large pail attached to a cable attached to a primitive winch on a prelapsarian tractor. Grasping the cable she was lowered hundreds of feet into the earth until the aperture of light above was hardly more than a star. “Like an illustration from a children’s book, really, me in this little pail floating down through infinite blackness . . . .”

#2. Paris: a jet-black wedding dress trailed along the runway like a charred peacock’s tail, the bride’s face covered with ashes.

#3. The resplendent paintings, completely black, by the great French painter, Pierre #Soulages, seen in full force last January in the Louvre. People weeping. Me among them. #Outrenoir, a word Soulages made up, meaning ’beyond black,’ the point where black becomes light.

#4. January and the shadows in Asheville are at their prime, so concise and yet almost alive like figures in a shadow play.

#5. In In Praise of Shadows, Jun’ichirō #Tanizaki explains the alter-world, the deeper world of shadows in traditional Japan. How meaningful they are

#6. Often before going to bed I put a small object on the floor in front of our front door. An egg or an apple. Street lamps are mysterious anyway and the light, shining through the glass, casts an egg or apple shadow over the floor like some unearthly abstraction.

#7. The great Argentinian novelist Luisa #Valenzuela, pointing to a street lamp ahead of us, assures me that it will go out just as we pass it. I laughed, but it did.

#8. The music of Arvo #Pärt, so full of Estonian silences. Shadows. Repeated over and over again

#9. If I had a job naming perfumes, they all would evoke #silence. Ashes of the Andes. Echo of earlier lives. Outrenoir. Hopscotch in Seville

#10. Playing hopscotch in snow. Lynne remembers. Stepping on the devil

#11. Waking and stepping outside, with northern lights in the sky and snow deep enough to bury a car and silence like you would not believe. Silence I’d like to circumscribe somehow, cut out like a vast piece of cake and put in a gallery for a week

#12. Fireworks that sound like a bomb. Slippers on, down the stairs and out the door, but by then they are gone. Under the street light the husks of explosives, the splintered ashes of snow

#13. from ‘The Snow Man’ by Wallace #Stevens:

For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is

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