Archive for Lake Michigan

Jim Harrison (1937-2016)

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2016 by xi'an

“The wilderness does not make you forget your normal life as much as it removes the distractions for  proper remembering.” J. Harrison

One of my favourite authors passed away earlier this year and I was not even aware of it! Jim Harrison died from a heart attack in Arizona on March 26. I read Legends of the Fall [for the first time] when I arrived in the US in 1987 and then other [if not all] novels like A good day to die or Wolf

“Barring love, I’ll take my life in large doses alone: rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs.” J. Harrison

What I liked in those novels was less the plot, which often is secondary—even though the Cervantesque story of the two guys trying to blow a dam in A good day to die is pure genius!—, than the depiction of the characters and their almost always bleak life, as well as the love of outdoors, in a northern Michigan that is at its heart undistinguishable from (eastern) Canada or central Finland. His tales told of eating and drinking, of womanising, fishing, and hunting, of failed promises and multiple capitulations, tales that are always bawdy and brimming with testosterone, but also with a gruff tenderness for those big hairy guys and their dogs. Especially their dogs. There is a lot of nostalgia seeping through these stories, a longing for a wild rural (almost feral) America that most people will never touch. Or even conceive. But expressed in a melancholic rather than reactionary way. In a superb prose that often sounded like a poem.

“I like grit, I like love and death, I am tired of irony…” J. Harrison

If anything, remembering those great novels makes me long for the most recent books of Harrison I have not [yet] read. Plus the non-fiction book The Raw and the Cooked.

morning at the Art Institvte

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by xi'an

After a brisk morning run along the Lake Michigan shore (in a freezing wind), I took the opportunity of a delayed flight to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, a museum I remembered from my first visit in 1987, not only for the fair amount of impressionist pieces, but also because of a temporary exhibit of the haunting pieces of Anselm Kiefer. This time, I again spent some time in the Monet rooms, esp. the haystack series, and then explored the modern section of which I had no lasting memory.

This is where I saw this magnificient sculpture by Charles Ray, entitled Hinoki, a reconstituted oak log he once saw lying in a meadow. I spent some time circling the trunck, looking at the details and the whole perspective. One may wonder why this sculpting version of Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote, is of such deep interest: first, dead logd/trees often have an ascetic beauty of their own, having shed leaves and bark, and turning slowly from the vegetal to the mineral. (Had I a large enough house, I would certainly try to install some composition of beach logs inside the house!) Second, this is a true sculpture in which Charles Ray did carve a piece or rather several pieces of cypress into his vision of a dead tree, whose meaning is completely different from the original object. At last, the sculptor worked with Japanese carpenter masters on this creation, woodworkers specialised in the maintenance and renovation of Japanese wooden temples, where all the wood beams that make them are progressively changed over the centuries, in the same paradox of being the same structure while having lost all of its components…

Apart from this great sculpture, and among many other great paintings, I discovered the following painting by Lyonel Feininger, almost cartoonesque in its representation of this Norman village scene. And hope to be back in this great museum in less than 25 years! (In an interesting coincidence, I saw the Hopper classic, Nighthawks, that was missing in Chicago in Paris as it is part of the terrific exhibit on Hopper’s career at Grand Palais!)