26 October 2012


Filed under: Fiction, Psychology, Reflections — ktismatics @ 1:15 pm

Demonstration of Manhattan CrawlSpace [An Aid Toward Developing One’s Own Subjective CrawlSpace]

This is Chapter One, Book I of Patrick Mullins’ Illegal Dances of New York City. For me the word “crawlspace” is always occupied by John Wayne Gacy, who must be evicted before anything else can open up. A resident of my home town, the Killer Clown disposed of the bodies of more than two dozen of his young male victims in the crawlspace under his house. A parody tribute to Gacy made the airwaves back then, sung to the Pink Floyd tune: “All in all it’s just a-nother kid in the crawl.” But then there’s the persistent and repeated tendency of my fictional characters to head underground, to excavate, to dig tunnels and trenches, to look for some way out… maybe they could use some tips, some inspiration.

The CrawlSpace search is all about anger not knowing where it’s supposed to go. Even when CrawlSpace is found, some more is needed, and felt to be so immediately. It is hidden but not static, which is why it’s so addictive once you’ve had a taste of it. You also really do need it, because new threats to it are developed daily.

Well yes, a safe place to discharge one’s anger would be a valuable resource. Rage depositories are under constant threat, says Patrick — I think this is largely because there are other non-angry people who occupy these places, and so the anger tends to flow toward them. Most people don’t like being the lightning rod for anger discharge, and so they leave. And then where does the anger go? Onto oneself? Fuck that.

9/11 — Patrick saw it unfold. Some claim that the televised images were a kind of violence porn, a spectacular CrawlSpace release valve for the pent-up anger of a whole nation, as if the disaster had been staged for that very purpose. But, Patrick insists, you really had to be there:

Seeing the real physical form of this image was a real escape, despite the pain and subsequent paralyzing trauma such horror caused, into safe CrawlSpace past the television and computer — because even the real form of this image was both dependent and independent of the Era of Media Spectacle.

So what aid for carving out CrawlSpace is being extended here? Ambulance-chasing? Staged Ballardian car crashes? Or can one only hope to take subjective advantage of disasters when they happen to occur?

Patrick laments the disappearance of cabaret in NYC. I’d not thought of cabaret as a place where anger is supposed to go, but I could be wrong. Maybe there’s an aggression to the live performance that I’m not crediting — certainly that was true of the old rock clubs. Maybe cabaret is precisely the sort of demimonde onto which a CrawlSpace enters after the anger is discharged.

You can get CrawlSpace from watching The Sopranos. The characters always need it, and they, like Bill Clinton, show you how to get it by lying. If that is the only way to get it, by all means lie. ‘We’re talkin’ survival,’ as the low-brows say, or the even more horrid ‘you gotta do whatcha gotta do.’

Do TV shows affect behavior? Only if you let them, if you treat them as instructional videos. But back to lying — I’m not sure if the lie is itself a place for anger to go, or if it’s the structure one erects over the CrawlSpace, disguising it and keeping it out of sight like those brownstone facades hiding the emergency stairways and air vents in the NYC subway system. Climb down the lie into the anger; climb up from the anger into the lie.

CrawlSpace was found by employing the drug-dealer and addict W., with whom he was living at the time…

The important lesson here isn’t the drugs or the living arrangement, although being able to exert influence over another for one’s own purposes is kind of like having unpaid CrawlSpace excavation laborers. In this story W. serves as a kind of henchman, arranging at Patrick’s behest a subtly orchestrated disruption of an irritatingly commercial performance event in which he was the featured performer. Got it.

That is enough Global CrawlSpace Manhattan for now. Examples Dept., that is.

Evidently it wasn’t enough.

CrawlSpace by appropriating a gift sent to one in hatred. Instead of sending it back, the point is to realize it has impersonal real value like money and so one should go ahead and steal it by just keeping it and making no reciprocal gesture.

An example in the breach: the divorcee who refuses the cheating spouse’s alimony payments, which would have provided the added bonus of revenge in addition to the money.

Havaiti as CrawlSpace. It’s nice when the CrawlSpace occasionally intersects with the lavish.

Polynesia — isn’t this more an escape from the anger-producing aspects of life, a place for the anger to dissipate rather than a place to express it? But then again I’ve never been there.

Central Park CrawlSpace… Central Park has a remarkably tainted quality throughout, produced in large part by human and canine urination done at random… There are dark colours in the Park that have been building up their malignancy over many years… those who row in the green-scum ponds, near reeds where horrible rats dwell.

What value has this taintedness in the context of anger depositories? I have been there, though not recently, and I was aware of the taint. Probably I was too much of a tourist to get it, or not sufficiently attuned to the Park’s juxtaposed illegal hustling which leads to the occasional arrest. So too must the juxtaposition infuse the Painted CrawlSpace — a giant hydrangea, modeled on a real one in NYC, painted after a fight.

Sex becomes more prominent, and loses all of its guilt associations in a way you never thought possible. There are moments of giddiness when fucking loses all trace of guilt and regains all its inimitable charisma.

Did Patrick know this painter; was he the one with whom the painter fought, the inspiration for gaudy artifice? Yes, clearly so, eventually. Like Polynesia, is guiltless sex an escape from anger or a place to put it?

In 2006, he felt as if he’d escaped from the elevator car in the World Trade Center on 9/11 into CrawlSpace that was the still open space of lobby of the North Tower and was lying on his back, all primitive bulges, another of those raging bulls — those entities that ‘tell the truth’ and are richly praised for it after they’ve been fully dispensed with, punished politely. In such cases, all efforts have to be made toward avoiding martyrdom, because this is a society favourite and does not actually bring forth guilt, but assuages it, according to degree of shallowness.

Too much context to summarize, but we do have a thematic convergence here, bringing Chapter One full circle.



  1. I’m fascinated how we both have moved along in some way or other since your first readings of this book over a year and a half ago, and that you’ve looked again. You go beyond most of your probings, although I do recall your pointing out the ‘divorcee/alimony’ one, which struck you.

    “Polynesia — isn’t this more an escape from the anger-producing aspects of life, a place for the anger to dissipate rather than a place
    to express it?”

    Yes, and it’s a very seductively dangerous way to do that. It is everything the ads say, and you really forget. It’s much worse than California that way.

    But although I said that about ‘repositories of anger’, I like the way you’ve applied it to many of my examples in which I wasn’t thinking of that so spscifically, and had other matters in mind.

    I think I like that you picked up this one in particular. Christ, you DID ‘get it’, and in doing so, you’ve understood one in which the ‘real performance’ was one of the most dangerous and surprisingly successful Crawlspace maneuvers I’ve done: Steinway, and that location in particular, hugely powerful in the classical music world, and the attractive and ‘interested’ saleslady (the head one of the entire organization) treated me to a roomful of some 20-25 pianos to choose for playing the concerts. They were all magnificent instruments, and I chose one. When she saw what I was up to with W., she would have jettisoned the entire concert if the invitations had not been sent out, and as it was, did not send out any of those she usually sends herself. Only a handful of the steinway staff attended, and on the night of the concert, she non chalantly told me that she had switched the pianos. Startlingly, I still played better than I ever have in my life, and she was NEVER able to sell me a piano (nor her excellent Italian curves), and she tried for another year. And then there’s the irony that W. had already appeared in ‘Day of Cine-Musique’, finally having to be evicted because she had started ‘doing business’ in the hallway.

    But I like this one just as much, you are the first to have paid attention to it: “Maybe cabaret is precisely the sort of demimonde onto which a CrawlSpace enters after the anger is discharged.” This greatly enriches what I’ve already written and extends it as well. Yes, precisely, cabaret is a very specialized, very adults-only, somewhat world-weary and somewhat delicate world, a state of mind you could even say, that Duke Ellington mastered perhaps more than any other, with his music that is of a uniquely luxurious flavourfulness. It’s even more inaccessible than ballet, and may be as hard to pin down as commedia dell-arte, except that there are a few clubs that have something specifically known as cabaret. One of the most popular was Bobby Short at the Carlyle, and I heard a late-90s CD of his. It was absolutely remarkably horrible, everything as affected in the extreme forms of blase, that his Upper East Side devotees wanted to hear. Sometimes cabaret is more straightforward, just letting old vocalists have a show for a few months that otherwise still sing elsewhere and in concert, but there are specific cabaret artists that I mentioned in there–and their vocal ability is not usually the big, powerful one, but the intimate style. The very few very succesful ones have fierce following; I’d say they number less than 20 even here.

    Somehow, I’ve been haunted by Gacy too, the mass murders he did were not only huge in number but especially gross and gruesome. There was pretty good TV movie of it in the 90s with Brian Dennehy. I don’t know how to evict the ‘crawlspace notion’ from your head, except I think I always thought of that basement as only dead people, not people more or less buried alive, and none of them was privy to crawlspace, that’s for sure. I do remember after his death that some of his prison that after his death some of his prison drawings were auctioned for big money.

    And you remind me, it was that second shrink of the two that started this talk of ‘a lot of rage and there’s really no place for it to go’. Therefore, so interesting how long it took me to question the essential awkwardness of this statement, which is not precisely true, and almost as long as he was using the basement of the Jefferson Mkt. Library as a repository for his own anger, probably realizing his own charlatanism at a later age. This is funny: He sometimes wore blue jeans even in this formal Madison Avenue office, and sometimes he did project something rather phallic–but you couldn’t SEE it! I never found him hot, and only later wohdered why in one session I had kept staring at his pants, since I couldn’t see an outline of anything under them, and he did not wear them well.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 October 2012 @ 4:34 pm

  2. Okay, I’ve studied this a bit more, and I think I see something else. It is in such things as this: “The important lesson here isn’t the drugs or the living arrangement, although being able to exert influence over another for one’s own purposes is kind of like having unpaid CrawlSpace excavation laborers.”

    It is possible that you knew when you wrote this, and wrote it primarily or even purely for that reason, that the matter of ‘where the anger is to go’ was not applicable to all these vignettes in BOOK I, but you decided that that was what the meaning must be. BOOK I never says that Crawlspace is only ‘anger depositories’. There’s some other reason the book has come up for you, so I guess that’s about it, isn’t it?


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 October 2012 @ 8:42 pm

  3. ‘henchman’, ‘gaudy artifice’, we see what you had in min and ” What value has this taintedness in the context of anger depositories?”

    That wasn’t the context and that sentence is trash. As for your ‘getting the taint’ but ‘as a tourist you weren’t sufficiently attuned to ‘get it’, make up your mind.

    This is the one kind of thing I am naive about, but it allows me time so that I don’t get too rough for my own good when the attacks have just started but aren’t yet too fierce.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 October 2012 @ 9:38 pm

  4. “the matter of ‘where the anger is to go’ was not applicable to all these vignettes in BOOK I, but you decided that that was what the meaning must be. BOOK I never says that Crawlspace is only ‘anger depositories’.”

    But: “The CrawlSpace search is all about anger not knowing where it’s supposed to go.” I’m just reading the text, following the trail into the CrawlSpaces. Maybe you didn’t mean what you wrote as a kind of definition to be taken literally. I’m not psychoanalyzing the author, or myself either; I’m thinking about this book, this fiction, which merits the attention.

    “That wasn’t the context and that sentence is trash.”

    Seriously? In the first comment you liked my attempt to extend the “anger repository” theme to your CrawlSpace examples.

    “make up your mind”

    I didn’t “get” the value of the taintedness in the context of CrawlSpace anger depository — that should be clear from the question beginning the paragraph.

    “when the attacks have just started but aren’t yet too fierce”

    I’m not attacking you or your book. Au contraire: I thought the post was complimentary in tone.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 October 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  5. I was just being polite, and it is not in the text that Crawlspace is only that. You can say something is ‘all about’, but you have, for your own purposes, clearly, chosen to reduce the fact that that element might be part of what Crawlspace is for me. But if I say it’s not nearly only that, and you’re in direct contact with me, how can you argue with me about it? I never even intimated that Polynesia, is somehow related to Crawlspace, ‘ougth to be’ made into a strict, pedantic definition, so you throw that in because you have decided that anger decided everything in Book I. It’s quite unbelievable. I said that ‘crawlspace’ was one of the themes not only of Book I, but of the whole Book. I did not say all Crawlspace is primarily anger-induced or stimulated. You made that the only thing the post was about because you’re angry yourself. The very idea of saying you can’t get past Gacy on ‘crawlspace’ until it is ”evicted from your mind’ proves you have to ‘wed my Crawlspace’ concept to Gacy because you can’t see ‘Crawlspace’ without Gacy. You wrote the post purely to insult me, and the bloggers will call you a hero.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 October 2012 @ 10:23 pm

  6. “chosen to reduce the fact that that element might be part of what Crawlspace is for me”

    “Reduce” is too strong: it’s a theme that suggested itself for further elaboration by the text itself. Certainly I’m not saying everything there is to say about the first chapter of your book; it’s a way of bringing focus to a short blog post. Maybe I’ve highlighted things you weren’t thinking of when writing the book: isn’t that a good thing? Maybe you’re right: maybe unconsciously I picked up that particular thread in your text because I am angry. Maybe that motivation enriched the reading experience for me, as well as my writing about it.

    “You wrote the post purely to insult me”

    Not so. But maybe this exchange is turning into a CrawlSpace interlude.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 October 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  7. So: you tell me that CrawlSpace isn’t only about having a place to put one’s anger, and I can see that. In the book it’s clearly also about the tropics and Central Park and guilt-free sex and cabaret and paintings of giant hydrangeas. I’m looking for what ties these things together. What is crawl space? It’s a cramped space that affords only limited freedom of movement. It’s a heterotopic space, neither inside the main structure nor outside of it. It’s a hidden space, and likely also a private space. To think about crawl space in the midst of NYC is to confront a paradox, which creates intrigue. What kinds of things are done in such spaces? There are many sorts of illegal dances.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 October 2012 @ 10:53 pm

  8. I admit that “inspiration for gaudy artifice” was a bit much. Picturing this enormous plant I imagined a painting of similar gargantuan dimension, made grotesque by the painter’s anger. But that misses the boat I’m quite sure.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 October 2012 @ 11:04 pm

  9. “Maybe I’ve highlighted things you weren’t thinking of when writing the book: isn’t that a good thing?”

    I already said that, if that was what it mainly was, as I had every reason to believe at first and given past experiences with you. It then turned into all this business about ‘you had to be there, Patrick said’ and definitely ‘henchman’, which is appalling’ and ‘but then again O
    I’ve never been there’. etc., ‘tourist doesn’t get’ the insider info, etc.

    “Maybe you’re right: maybe unconsciously I picked up that particular thread in your text because I am angry. Maybe that motivation enriched the reading experience for me, as well as my writing about it”

    Doubtless, but if you can apply something and emphasize it and give it new life (which I said in my first comment–that’s like the ways I do cine-musique), it’s pissy when I then say that your picking up anger as a central theme to dominate a whole list of examples each of which the author considers to have nuance in themselves is spmething you can do for you own benefit once (as with cine-musique about a previously-made film, it’s still the set film that has the most solidity) so you might conceivably want to know what I did mean about those separate things. Or maybe you don’t care about the nuances if I won’t agree that I documented them every one to demonstrate some ‘rage repository’/ . I could be accused of uncionsciously or subconsciously writing about nothing but anger, but that would be incorrect..


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 October 2012 @ 11:08 pm

  10. “To think about crawl space in the midst of NYC is to confront a paradox,

    Yes, and this paradox brings both great difficulty and agony, but also paradise. The last is why one would embark on projects as I’ve described them–because the world does not, no matter what the ideology, encourage them as ‘licit’ except in the forms each dictate, so a point can sometimes come to one where the individual doesn’t care what someone tells him is beauty, he just remembers what he always thought was, and fuck the rest, even if he has to pay in some ways. Anything less would be death. That’s why Polynesia, for example. At Steinway in 2002, summer, I practised many hours every day, but I would often have skin mags slipped inside my music scores, and these would inspire the playing on those glorious pianos; and then during the practice of Charles Ives’s puritanical New England ‘Concord Sonata’ would come the thought of death when I’d think of Tahiti, and the choice seemed between those two extreme. I obviously found I didn’t give a shit about the ‘beauties’ of Concord and the Alcott House, and chose variations on that ‘inimitable charisma’, and I’m glad I did. I would hate myself otherwise, because either one COSTS.

    Good night, monsieur.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 26 October 2012 @ 11:25 pm

  11. “Henchman”? You write: “CrawlSpace was found by employing the drug-dealer and addict W, with whom he was living at the time, to call all Manhattan hotels still using cocktail pianists and inviting them without Steinway’s approval.” This sounds like henchman doings to me, though of course on the scale of more-or-less innocent prank rather than true dirty deeds. I’m not sure why it was objectionable for these uninvited cocktail pianists to attend your concert. Were they supposed to have paid for tickets and didn’t? Was it supposed to have been a private tryout for the Steinway people? But they wanted you to buy one of their pianos rather than them paying you to play, right? Did Steinway pay for the room where you played? Why would they not want to have more audience members rather than fewer for such an event featuring one of their instruments? I think I don’t understand the full implications of “Steinway artist.”

    The pain and struggle become more evident as the book progresses. This opening movement is dominated by a bravado demonstrating what has been achieved at last, what distinct ways you’ve found for engaging and enjoying life. And now I think we’re back on the same page. Bons rêves et à bientôt.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 October 2012 @ 11:40 pm

  12. As I wrote at the beginning of the post, part of my motivation in revisiting IDNYC is to find inspiration for what I’m writing now. CrawlSpace and Portals occupy space in a similar way; the characters in my stories are continually exploring these alternative pathways and enclosures. Now, toward the end of this series of stories, the Portals are tightening up and becoming rigid, squeezing the characters down. I believe I mentioned in a recent post that I felt the need for a different sort of energy to write this last book. Is it anger I need? I think it’s partly that, but the passive seething anger just isn’t going to get it done. What’s needed is aggression.

    Is it freedom to express anger that’s needed, a depository for discharging the anger? That’s only part of it. It’s freedom to explore, discover, create, fuck, laugh, love, form alliances, etc. The crawlspaces, the portals, aren’t just safe houses; they’re channels of freedom, Deleuzian vectors I suppose if I have to label them. When the freedom is cut off, anger is a natural response. But it’s not like the crawlspaces and portals are there only to express that anger in a way that won’t get the angry person in trouble. That’s what TV is for I suppose — a socially acceptable outlet, redirected away from the actual causes and sources of the anger. But what’s needed are spaces and pathways for expressing everything, including the anger. And if those pathways get clogged, one might rightly be angry at the pathways themselves and those who manipulate them. But what’s needed isn’t another portal for expressing anger at the original portals. What’s needed is the aggression either to open the portals back up or to destroy them. Aggression.

    I’d say that the Patrick of IDNYC Chapter One isn’t using CrawlSpace as merely an anger depository. He’s finding outlets for being aggressive, whether that aggression is fueled by anger or sex or art. And I think that’s what my characters need at this inflection point in the story arc.


    Comment by ktismatics — 27 October 2012 @ 9:19 am

  13. all that was very good, so I just singled out this one: “And if those pathways get clogged, one might rightly be angry at the pathways themselves and those who manipulate them. But what’s needed isn’t another portal for expressing anger at the original portals. What’s needed is the aggression either to open the portals back up or to destroy them. Aggression.”,

    although I’d probably opt for opening them up and some new ones as well, at least in my kind of experience. In your fiction, ‘destroying portals’ may be an option, but the only ones I can see using Hurricane Sandy as a portal are Republicans who want to figure a way to rig early voting. When I think of the horror of a MORMON president, there does seem to be something in that that symbolizes the closing of as many portals and crawlspaces as possible.

    I like the way you worked through these concepts, demonstrating what I used to do more of, and still do sometimes. In my junior year at Juilliard (1978-1979, after Paris and Boulanger), I played all 12 Debussy Etudes in a huge program–my teacher, Beveridge Webster, somehow had this tendency to want giant-sized programs. I refused to listen to him when he told me that I must attend to more details in each etude, when there was only a few months. I told him I wasn’t going to do it, and I didn’t. I told him I was going to see the pieces as a kind of SINGLE TWELVE, especially since I had to play Bach, Mozart, a piece of my own already called ‘LA Yogi’ (I hadn’t even been there yet,. but you see how these things pre-see themselves), another composer friend’s piece, called first ‘Luscious’ and then ‘Sans Souci’, and written for me. He would never be practical about anything, but this was still better than the already-commercial-only ‘piano-madams’ who alone inhabited the faculty by then: Mr. Webster had also known Nadia Boulanger very well, and he was musicianly, but also you’d come to your lessons sometimes with him totally drunk…So I did something of what you did in the OP with events in my BOOK I. A conflict then arose such as we’ve had before in discussing DeLillo and others, which is usually caused by certain tendencies in analysis of works which differ between us, at least temporarily.

    At this point, I would almost say that the ‘Anger repository Crawlspace’ had specific targets, and the main one may have even been the original pronouncement by that insane psychiatrist–that’s a typical quiet informing of the acceptance you must make of the bleakness, offering not even a finger-lift to solution. Stanley says “The rage has no place to go” and you end up finding that primarily means he’s just an obnoxious shit, whose power came largely from whether he could get the huge fees (and his were twice that of the little preacher-wimp). I talked to him about Noel, who was important in my life right then, and the various hustlers and druggies I saw at Noels’ ‘den of iniquity’. This was just before meeting Christian, but Stanley was actually trying to interest me in HIM as a substitute for Noel, comparing Noel to my father, and that I would like Noel better than a ‘positive person’.

    Ms. Prudente was absolutely determined to turn the event into not only a ‘sales concerts’ (there was another, more artistic kind as well, although I forced this one to be despite her), and the customer was meant to be ME. The concert was held in Steinway Hall itself on 57th Street, and the practice room, called ‘The Rachmaninoff Room’, where ‘Prill’ ‘discovered me’ was just up the stairs, and this had a stunning piano. That same summer in which I already had the Ives under my belt, playing it just a few months prior in Pittsburgh courtesy of the Cambridge Whorebag, I dedicated almost exclusively to practising the Liszt B Miinor Sonata, which would ring like such bells on that instrument, I would get to the most dessert-like part of the piece and hallucinate Patty McBride dancing in ‘Coppelia’, that miraculous performance from 1987 that had caused me to forget arrest, police, everything, and at intermission just go to the Men’s Room of the 4th Ring, and stand in front of the mirror…even in my other such adventures, I have never been so overwhelmed by the sexiness of anyone (and this a gorgeous woman who danced better than anyone I’ve ever seen) that even when someone walked in (a young man, who shook his head slightly disapprovingly, but butchly went on ahead to the urinal), I didn’t hide myself, but came instead. Once was enough for that kind of brazenness in public, but I remember when I first heard the door opening that I decided that in this case, the risk was worth everything. And his presence as ‘audience’ made it all the more complete. Patty was very different from Suzanne, didn’t hold herself aloof from her partners, and gained only from flirting and smiling and showing off for them, and that’s why she got Baryshnikov that year he was there.

    I didn’t think I’d be writing this, god knows. So ‘Prill’ was determined to sell to me, at the factory in Astoria announced that ‘Patrick is a Steinway Artist’, yet all ‘Steinway artists’ MUST purchase a Steinway from the company. I knew what she was up to, and she never spoke to me again. I went round the corner and had a lovely Moussaka.

    ‘Henchman’ is all right without the ‘unpaid crawlspace excavators’, although by now I like your original nakedness of fire in the OP. And following, you mention, which I’ve said before, pain and struggle coming in the later books, although I think BOOK III is like an island in itself, as we’ve said of certain movies, ‘a movie within a movie’. What I most notice about Book III is that I left out a few things, without even a single mention, that belonged there. This is because I only faced the pain of one of these recently. It’s actualy Book II that is totally insane, because I wrote it while just being refused by Collapse and still Christian not ‘signed on the dotted line’, or even having heard of it. That in 2010, I wrote the ‘Stompanato Ballet’, by far the filthiest part of the book (although Book IV starts with some heavily veiled cine-musique that Christian seemed to pick up on, as never told me but proved in some of his illustrations..), and placed it in Book II is no accident. The rigour of that was extreme and put me ‘in the black’, as it were. I hated having to do it even though it felt incredible.

    The recent months were probably the most treacherous in terms of ‘crawlspace’, primarily the scheduling of that trip was much less angry than just sly, and even then I almost wasn’t fast enough. People have often talked about ‘your speed’, and indeed, at the piano, I often had to consciously stop ‘playing so fast’.

    This is very good: “Why would they not want to have more audience members rather than fewer for such an event featuring one of their instruments?”

    They normally would, but Prill had enough other irons in the fire that she could ‘play with this one’, and I wasn’t quite letting her. So she got revenge and just went through the motions. One of the other primary employees with whom I had to deal (and who was really horrible, would let me use the famous ‘Basement Pianos’, the ones which whose piano-asses were hauled to Carnegie and Philharmonic Hall, they were unbelievable, only occasionally, and those were bliss) told me, before this concert was planned, that Prill ‘is certifiably insane’, and she deeply regreeted having let that ‘slip out’, as Bette Davis would say.

    There’s some real bravado in Book V, I’d say, though, although publication deadline made 2010, a big sex year for me, have to be writtine somewhat minimally. But again, the last 5 months have been all ‘very close’, and I’ve just come out of the darkest part, which actually was that motel. As I wrote on my bleug, it was there that I was so horrified that I LOST my fear of the Shower Scene in Psycho, and only last week reclaimed it, by putting the police bar in place. One should be aware of the power of the Shower Scene.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 27 October 2012 @ 11:33 am

  14. ““The rage has no place to go”

    A friend in grad school, now a clinical psych prof at a big Eastern university, came over to my house one day and proceeded to give me shit about something I was working on. I kept telling him to shut up about it, but with a big shit-eating grin he insisted that he was helping me “get in touch with my anger.” Of course he was: that’s because he was PISSING ME OFF. I finally had to kick him out. We stayed on good terms, but that sadistic urge does seem to pop up in the therapists, papered over by this lame helping excuse for their gleeful provocations. Get in touch with THIS, bitch.

    I think eventually the characters may open up new portals/crawlspaces, but in this book I think they’re going to barricade themselves into their last stronghold and/or unleash the wrecking ball. There will be an intermission entr’acte, however, while the personnel sweep up the debris from the apocalypse. Speaking of intermezzos, I wonder if your audience for your men’s room solo at the ballet presented a review of the performance to his pals.

    I can see why you wouldn’t want to devote too much time on very small parts of a large show, since the grand sweep demands so much energy and attention.


    Comment by ktismatics — 27 October 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  15. “I can see why you wouldn’t want to devote too much time on very small parts of a large show, since the grand sweep demands so much energy and attention.”

    It was that, but mainly because there was not enough time or the program was too large. Now I look back and realize I also played Ravel’s ‘Jeux d’Eau’ in that program. If there had been a year or even 6 months, he would have been right, and eventually that is what I did with the pieces, because each is like pieces of precious fabric and no detail can be given too much attention. He just refused to be practical, saying “I don’t have much sympathy for that…” but I paid no attention, knowing the disastrous messes–with frequent memory slips–he’d made from overscheduling and underpractising. Jeaneane, the Texas lady I told you about said “Well, it’s just he wouldn’t PRACTICE!” What he should have done is let me play the 5 or 6 I had already been playing for many years, which would have made for a much higher level. But he may have wanted to make sure I learned all 12. I only played the whole set once more, and I didn’t like doing it then either; and there are a couple which I have completely abandoned. There is one for ‘Les Notes Repetees’, which I never played very well, and didn’t love enough to ever practice it at Steinway (where I found the harsh truth that the quality of the instrument is of paramount importance, it’s just never said much about–the finest instrument will do a lot of the work for you, no matter what the assholes insist on how ‘an artist can make any piano sing’), but Mr. webster, at age 80, could play it perfectly, had an extraordinary facility. He was an extraordinarily sweet man, and picked up somehow on my New York identification, telling me once in his studio in the Juilliard building, “in that Big City where you live…” Once Diane went to his studio and delivered a letter to him, this pissed everybody off, but he couldn’t but be a bit impressed with this still-luscious nympho, 18 years older than I was. He was pissed, though, I hardly blame him. Even if you don’t play an instrument, you can visualize ‘repeated note etude’, this would be for playing the same key in very fast succession. Some of the Etudes are very French-butch, though, like the final one for Chords.

    “I wonder if your audience for your men’s room solo at the ballet presented a review of the performance to his pals.”

    I just realized in our discussion today where much of the significance of thissudden appearance lies: It was actually a totally satisfying and shared sexual experience, because his ability to ‘take it in stride’ and just go take a piss was not what most would have done there, kit was a combination of innocence and butchness. The sissier types that frequent the place would have either ogled or gotten that old-maid thyroidic look that some try to master when they start acting more like librarians than fellationists, and almost any of the older guys from say 45 up would have immediately freaked and reported me to an usher, who would have called downstairs–or, in the case of some of the Garment District retirees stuck there with their blintzy wives, yelled in high dudgeon. As it was, I remember his own movements as well as my own, and therefore it now seems to be a kind of ‘bird of paradise’ version of the Dallas guys, to wit, since I had the ‘featured instrument’, I didn’t mind that he made me feel quite as fulfilled as Lady Chatterley kept saying Oliver Mellors made her feel. It didn’t matter what he ‘consciously thought’, but that he actually joined in in a sense, but just not being fearful. There was one point in the Lawrence novel, however, in which, even though she was the one making the ‘greater leap’, that Constance says she knows that ‘it meant more for him’, and indeed Lawrence did outdo himself with such phrases as ‘the phallus thick and arching’; it was hard to figure out if he ever touched one… I’ve read most of Lawrence’s novels, and think him a magnificent writer, but that single ‘banned’ shortish novel is hard to surpass. There’s a French film of it with Danielle Darrieux (still alive at 95) and Leo Genn, who has that real ‘London Man’ look: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0312890/, but speaking of birds of paradise, I just saw that Danielle’s whole name is Danielle Yvonne Marie Antoinette Darrieux.

    One more word about your remarks on the ‘Central Park taint’. I am quite sure you did get it, because it wouldn’t have had to do with whether you were a tourist or a native, since the latter don’t usually ‘get it’, they still insist that Central Park is ‘nature’. But it’s not, even in the less cultivated parts. It’s a kind of grand garden, sometimes overly manicured, sometimes filthy. But I’ve always thought it had a sooty quality over almost everything in a way that London and Paris parks don’t. There are actually some woods at the top of Manhattan in Inwood Park that have never been disturbed, these are close to that ‘Pumpkin House’ I told you about some years ago, but I’m not sure I’ve been in the most primitive parts. Central Park is unique, and I’ve found it to cause depression many times just being in it. It always seems to be caring an impossible weight, and I have never experienced the place itself as anything ecstatic, even though I have often gotten that paradoxically in the streets themselves, often according to what accidental arrangements you’ll get on vistas looking uptown or down, and not therefore in the control of anybody in real estate, because it would mean thousands of them. However, I rarely experience that anymore either. I think the last time was about a year ago, when Jack and Alex and I took their boat up the East River and parked at this unabashedly rich-mob neighborhood and had lunch.

    “he insisted that he was helping me “get in touch with my anger.” ”

    I can’t believe people who say things like this don’t know how tacky it is.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 27 October 2012 @ 6:22 pm

  16. Last night, I started thinking about those ‘tiny details’ that psychoanalysts focus on, from chalk-breaking masochism to dead rats pulled out of asses that were a kind of ‘pleasure’,. of breaking someone’s ‘replaceable’ wine glass. And also when I mentioned that maybe we can, at least sometimes, therapize each other in various circumstances outside those drear inner sancta where Freud’s foreskin is always on display–in formaldehyde, I guess.

    Some parallel with the ‘overview’ and ‘grand sweep’,. and the details needing to be prominent, as we delved and I found out that a lot of the ‘unspent rage’ was the psychiatrist’s very remark about the unspent rage, although of course not only that. One of the nicer ones at Steinway was talking to me about the rage about 9/11 on the first anniversary, 2002. So obviously that causes a lot of rage if you’re close to it, or even more if you had somebody who died in it. But it’s still the matter of how we’ve got these two things here in whatever work or sequence in someone’s life –the overarching structure or a significant detail–which are things I think we can concluded need to be alternated back and forth if any sort of reasonable balance is to be achieved. Sometimes a ‘portal’, as the one coming from this discussion, and then folding off my last baroque comment, may not seem related at first. In this case, I got an image of one of my girl cousins of childhood whom I rarely think of, but whom I thought was the most beautiful girl in the world as a child, and always demanded to go see her. She put up with me sometimes, which was amazing, since she was 7 years older. All four children in her family are still alive, but she is the only one who has not suffered serious health problems herself or her two boys. She ‘had to get married’ when in high school, and has yet become more and more beautfful as the years have passed. The very oldest is the richest relative I have, and is fairly healthy, but has had to have a lot of surgery in the last 10 years. I saw her in May, and you’d never know it though, she seems to have recovered. Okay, those are just background, the others have children and grandchildren and several cases of brain damage and slowly-dying children and children who spent 12 years in jail for selling dope.

    Point is, I don’t know why the image of N. came to mind, but it must be a portal as well. I think as a child I thought it was very exciting that she got pregnant just like in ‘A Summer Place’ and only a few years later.

    So it seemed to me that the psychoanalyst often really does want to convince you that he is able to provide something magical, even though most of the secular-atheist talk is about ‘the common nightmare’ and the drear. But that’s still just sales. He does not do that and the ‘overview’ is the continued sessions; you aren’t ever allowed access to that, which is his alone. You get to spend tons of money and time on one of these precious details, and are made to think you’d never find that on your own. It is unbelievable to me how long people imagine this might be so, and very obvious that they do want simply a kind of ‘nursing’ and that weird sense of ‘magic’ that even I’ve experienced after those sessions, but which I think I’ve found out I also get by spending money in a number of ways. Adorno even said that the person going to the Toscanini concert who pays for the ticket is primarily experiencing the spent money,. but certainly not, even though that may well be part of it, esp. when ‘only the best seats’ will do, as happens with many older people who aren’t troupers about the art any more.

    In any case, I guess I’ll put this youtube of Patty and Misha at the White House,. even though I’ve never seen worse youtube quality. Jerome Robbins was the second-in- command choreographer at NYCB with Balanchine,. and I can tell by watching this why Robbins is not nearly so great the genius–because except for the solo by Patty in the second Chopin piece, in which you do get a buzz with the anticipation of her starting slow and inevitably going into her trademark ‘allegro’, it does not show even what she is capable of doing, as does her ‘Tchaikowsky Pas de Deux’ with Misha, which was once on YouTube along with other Balanchine works, but the Balanchine Trust has forced most of them off. There’s a later Tchai Pas de Deux she does with this LA Ballet semi-professional some 5 years later, but you can actually see her talking to him onstage, because he cannot really do it. Was interested to see Jimmy and Rosalyn as much better ballet audience than Bush, who in about 2000 was photographed watching a ‘Nutcracker’ at the WH, and looks like a prune-faced old-maid librarian himself. Actually, I’ll put the link to the one Patty does with Reid Olsen, somehow she shines even with this amateur, and smiles through her commands to his inferior talent. This isn’t de rigueur, but you may well see why I found her so hot, and ballerinas are not usually precisely HOT:

    Oh my god, pay dirt, and I don’t think some psychoanalyst fairy-portal put these up for me, where they were not yesterday. This you MUST try, as these two are formidable. And about 5:57, catch Patty’s first solo (after his first one), and then at 6:25, DIG that backward hop all the way diagonally to the back. This is very similar to what ‘opened that portal’ when I saw ‘Coppellia’. She is perfect. Baryshnikov’s dancing is a marvel, as usual, but I see that the hair and/or costume somehow make him look more squashed and peasantlike.

    Next to it were Farrell and Martins, in their famous ‘Chaconne’. Her voluptuousness is not quite as electric to me as Patty’s sparkle and speed,. but Martins had been chosen to partner her because she’s taller than most (watch if you have time, they’re details and ‘portal-operners’ in Book I, of course, but I don’t go out of control when I see Suzanne in quite the same way:

    Maybe something changed, I’m pretty sure all these had been pulled for some years. Patty was not only perfect when she was perfect, though, she was consistently perfect–and was CRITICIZED for this. “Didn’t have enough ‘off-nights'” She was the only major Balanchine ballerina who suffered nothing in the mess in the early 70s when B. tried to force Farrell to marry him.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 28 October 2012 @ 10:53 am

  17. No, that’s 4:57 for Patty’s first solo, and 5:25 fpr the hops to backstage left. I saw her also in Saratoga in 1980, she has this unique ‘levitation’ quality, and I’ve seen Margot Fonteyn doing these same kinds of steps, they don’t come near this.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 28 October 2012 @ 11:07 am

  18. The psychoanalyst and the lit/film analyst share this obsession with the small details, as if the analysis of the event were more important than the event itself. At least the Lacanian simply repeats the detail, playing it back word for word to the analysand, almost as if the analyst were performing a scene from a screenplay written by the analysand. As you know of course, the fictional text or musical score consists entirely of small details without which the grand sweep is a breeze blowing through an empty room. I may get sloppy with details when I start fitting them into the sweep rather than letting the details, their individual distinctiveness and their collective momentum, build the sweep. At least when Philip Glass obsesses on the small musical detail he permutes and expands it into a larger sweep comprised of even smaller details. Generally I’m not fond of that near-monotony though.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 October 2012 @ 11:59 am

  19. “the quality of the instrument is of paramount importance”

    My great-grandfather Valentine Ratkowski and his brother designed and built churches in Poland and after they emigrated to the US. I didn’t know this until very recently, but in old voter registration documents Val listed his profession as “organ maker.” I’d hope that the acoustics in his churches were/are excellent. My parents and I used to see one of his churches from the highway on the south side of Chicago when we’d visit his daughter Armanda and her husband Arturo Napoli, but we never stopped. Great-aunt Manda loved the church and especially the Latin Mass, which she likened to opera. She’s the one who used to serve me adult-strength daiquiris when I was a kid. Her mother, Val’s black-clad widow, lived with Manda and Art. She had lost all of her English by the time I knew her; when we would visit she would take me back into her chambers, enshrined in black lace, in order to give me a prize. I still have two silver dollars, one from 1900, the other from 1901, that my great-grandmother gave me. I don’t know whether any of Val’s children played piano or organ. My mother did; her sister didn’t.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 October 2012 @ 12:40 pm

  20. Quite fantastic. You’ve never presented your extended family as being anywhere near this colorful or exotic, or if you did, I didn’t see it. Oh, I just think Catholicism has so much going for it, no matter in what disrepair it gets. Quite a mother-daughter formation, and they probably even enjoyed having the old mother live with them most of the time, since she was so eccentric herself.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 28 October 2012 @ 1:55 pm

  21. I watched the first dance clip. Elegant and fluid, graceful and athletic, though I’ve not made the Step Two effort and stretch in these regions. The backward hop is strange: I like it.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 October 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  22. ” I’ve not made the Step Two effort and stretch in these regions.”

    I don’t know, if you’ve seen Patty in this, that’s almost like skipping Step Two, and just ‘starting at the top’. In Book I, both Suzanne and Patty are part of Step II, although I didn’t focus on Patty. Nevertheless, during this exchange, I have realized that she is definitely my favourite of all dancers, male of female. Balanchine overestimated Farrell in a sense, because of being in love with her (but she did, I’ve heard, shamelessly tease in her late teens), but also not, because Farrell really is that great. She’s got the ultimate rare 17th-century Mannerist Parmigianino body of endless limbs, but she could never get the lightness Patty does on those back hops (used to know the French term for those, have forgotten lots of those, and the ballet board could never shake the lethargy about that out of my ass). Her body was more compact like Fonteyn’s, but Fonteyn did not have the virtuoso technique to quite this degree, and yet Patty never had to even have ambition, you can see that she looks as if she was born dancing. The only one I’ve seen with that much technique was the Kirov ballerina, Alla Sizova (and only on film.) She was Nureyev’s first partner,. and the only partner he ever had that upstaged him–without trying. Patty is the only one that ever upstaged Baryshnikov, whom many think is the greatest male dancer ever to have lived. Although it’s partly because he’s out of his element here and it is her element. But Balanchine was also very professional, and simply never talked about what he was going to use Patty for, and just quietly made ballet after ballet with her, with Edward Villella earlier. He was very intense, and had injuries which eventually dissolved his career, but she goes back to the early 60s with him.

    She’s also got one physical attribute that she can use to great effect that Farrell doesn’t have: Her face. Farrell does have an overbite and slightly protruding teeth and never fully smiles, so she never radiates joy like this. Patty smiles and appreciates her male partner (but never uses cheap smiles at the audience like some of the contemporary Kirov girls do, which is sort of tacky in ballet). I never met her, but saw her often offstage, because one of NYCB’s rehearsal studios was on the 3rd floor of Juilliard. I did meet Suzanne once with her husband, for whom I played classes. Indeed she did have this starburst quality, but Patty always had this serene look, whether onstage or off. Balanchine said Suzanne was ‘like a whale in her own ocean’, and she doesn’t ever reciprocate fully with her partners, always the highest goddess. On the other hand, Balanchine never fooled with Patty at all, but knew what she was capable of. That’s all the reason why she never had to call any attention to herself, and never had even the slightest reversal of fortune. She has also always had this perfect marriage with Jean-Pierre Bonnefous, and they are both master chefs of French cooking.

    But that ‘literal Step 2’ in the book was, in the literal sense I started it, about the way I did it in reverse: Most start with the 19th century big romantic ballets (Baryshnikov’s real home base) and get to Balanchine as a Step Two. I only did it in that order because Balanchine was the most musical, and was a very accomplished pianist as well.

    I’m delighted you watched it and liked it. I watched it again after reading your last comment and before writing this, and was stunned this time by their opening movement and the way she burst into the Tchaikovsky at one point.


    Comment by Patrick Mullins — 28 October 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  23. These are all very impressive observations; I think they’re superb.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 October 2012 @ 7:43 pm

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