Suddenly, a Knock on the Door

Three terrorists threaten a writer in his living room. They demand of him a story. Frightened, the writer looks around and begins: “Three people are sitting in a room.” The terrorists are not amused. They want fiction, not fact. But producing fiction on demand proves difficult: “It’s hard to think up a story with a barrel of a loaded pistol pointed at your head,” the writer explains.First page of the chapter "Lieland" with markings
This short story, which is the first and title story of Etgar Keret’s new collection, sets the agenda for the following 34, all of which expose fiction as we produce it daily: in dreaming and day-dreaming, fantasizing and being delusional, lying, worrying, cursing and being depressed.  continue reading

Naked Ladies, Political Messages

R.B. Kitaj, Juan de la Cruz, 1967 © R.B. Kitaj Estate. Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo

 Only now do I realize, really examining my favorite Kitaj painting closely, that Juan de la Cruz also has those explicit and aggressive sexual components so peculiar to his work: naked women are a vehicle for political messages (here about the Vietnam War) and historical episodes, for instance about St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and their Jewish origins, which I find inherently problematic. Despite this, however, I like the painting: the many powerful colors, the deep blue sea under the brilliant blue sky, the green cap on the soldier’s head, and the yellow behind him. The painting and the contradictions it binds together – the soldier’s finely-drawn features beside the sober geometric forms – they emanate something of summer’s optimism.

For more on R.B. Kitaj, see:

Christine Marth, Publications

Music in the Mountains

The Aspen Music Festival, 8000 feet above sea level and high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, is in full swing. musicians in the mountainsFor 8 weeks 600 students from all over the world are making music literally around the clock: in concert halls, music tents, churches, a brass quintet has set up on a street corner just in front of the ice cream parlor usually in the afternoon between scheduled performances and the very handsome, very young Eylon Ben-Yaakov is regaling us with Chopin’s polonaise in A-flat, followed by Prokofiev’s piano sonata No, 3 at the Aspen Chapel, a faux 12th century construct.   continue reading