Friday, 11 January 2008
I wonder how many writers would rather have been visual artists. We know that Frank O'Hara would (see "Why I would rather be a painter than a poet"), but I'm sure he's not alone. The idea of working a field (pace Olson) rather than a line, space rather than time, is something that must draw most writers, particularly of fiction, every now and again. The idea of being able to see it whole, simply by standing back. Some writers succumb to the temptation, with greater or lesser success: Sylvia Plath, David Jones, DH Lawrence. Me. I sometimes think Joseph Cornell is the mirror image of us all. The artist who would rather have written. The sense of narration in his boxed works is so strong that surely he must have been aware of it, and sometimes wondered why he didn't simply write the stuff down. Each box looks like the ideal cover for a novel that waits to be written.