Thursday, June 10, 2010

Letters to Cicero

Yesterday or maybe the day before, I was reading through my notes from the interview that never was, when I came across a passage, one of Markson’s captured anecdotes. It was in Reader’s Block, and I had marked it with three asterisks — my highest rating, given to those parts I absolutely needed to ask Markson about. “Petrarch sometimes wrote letters to long-dead authors,” Markson writes. “He was also a dedicated hunter of classic manuscripts. Once, after discovering some previously unknown works of Cicero, he wrote Cicero the news.” Reading that again, I thought that maybe art is, in the end, like so many letters to Cicero, notes addressed to the dead, to one’s ancestors and betters, or simply to those one had in mind while working.

— From Paul Maliszewski’s tribute to David Markson in n+1.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Love and fear

Jonathan Santlofer: Did you have any training, any art education?

Peter Schjeldahl: No, none.

Jonathan Santlofer: So all of the art history that you bring into the writing you’ve learned or read on your own — things that you bring to it, interpret for a particular piece.

Peter Schjeldahl: Yeah, and this is true, by the way, of Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, too. The idea of going to school to be an art critic is a very crazy idea. I educated myself in public, which is a very painful way to learn — by writing and then discovering that I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. But you remember the lessons vividly. Also, everything I’ve learned about art was (a) because I was actually interested, or (b) I was actually interested in covering my ass because of what I was writing about. Love and fear, the two strongest emotions we have. It all starts with emotion.

— From “Mask of the critic”, an interview published in Guernica in January 2006.