Can Art Be Taught?

Learn to say “Fuck You”
to the world once in a while.
You have every right to.

Just stop thinking, worrying,
looking over your shoulder,
wondering, doubting, fearing,
hoping for some easy way out,

struggling, gasping, confusing,
itching, scratching, mumbling,
scrambling, hatching, bitching,
groaning, horse-shitting, nit-picking,

piss-trickling, eyeball-poking,
finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking,
evil-eyeing, back-scratching, grinding
grinding grinding away at yourself.

Stop it. Don’t worry about cool.
Make your own uncool.
Make your own, your own world.

Letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, quoted in Michael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece (Penguin Books, 2006). Submitted by Howie Good.

Cry me a rainbow

Down by the Fairway waterfront
where all of those artist
studios are the surge
broke into the first floor studios
drawing out paint and chalk across
the whole walkway, splashing
it back up against
the side of the building,
wave by wave,
making this insane rainbow
colored splatter paint all
across the Red Hook
shore. There must have been
mostly red paint
because the ocean in that
little alcove has turned a deep maroon.

Taken from a letter describing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Submitted by Marika.

Whether you could bear the idea of marrying me

I can’t advise you in my favour because I
think it would be beastly for you, but think how nice
it would be for me. I am restless & moody
and misanthropic & lazy & have no money
except what I earn and if I got ill you would
starve. In fact it’s a lousy proposition. On

the other hand I think I could do a Grant and
reform & become quite strict about not getting
drunk and I am pretty sure I should be faithful.
Also there is always a fair chance that there will
be another bigger economic crash in
which case if you had married a nobleman with

a great house you might find yourself starving, while I
am very clever and could probably earn a
living of some sort somewhere. All these are very
small advantages compared with the awfulness
of my character. I have always tried to be
nice to you and you may have got it into your

head that I am nice really, but that is all rot.
It is only to you & for you. I am jealous
& impatient — but there is no point in going
into a whole list of my vices. You are a
critical girl and I’ve no doubt that you know them
all and a great many I don’t know myself.

From a letter written by Evelyn Waugh in 1936, after his first wife had left him, asking her cousin whether “you could bear the idea of marrying me”, found at Futility Closet. Submitted by Marika Rose.

In the Air

I will not make you a slave, you
will live in my 200-story castle where unicorn
servants will feed
you doughnuts off their horns. I will
personally make you
a throne that is half platnum
and half solid gold and jewel encrested.

Thankyou again for teaching us
about meteroligy, you’re
more awesome than a monkey
wearing a tuxedo
made out of bacon
riding a cyborg unicorn
with a lightsaber for the horn
on the tip of a space shuttle
closing in on Mars,
while ingulfed in flames.

(A thank you note from a 9-year-old to a weatherman who visited his school, via the Metro, 15 March 2012. Submitted by Marika Rose)

Liber Amoris

To have crossed the Alps with me
to sail on sunny seas
to bask in Italian skies
to have visited Vevai and the rocks of Meillerie
and to have repeated to her on the spot
the story of Julia and St. Preux

She’s a strange, almost an inscrutable girl
It is all over, and I know my fate
its giant-shadow, clad in air and sunshine
my courage failed me
its enormous but graceful bulk
You are struck with the point of a rock
The truth is, I never saw anything like her

From Liber Amoris or the New Pygmalion by William Hazlitt, 1823. The text comes from the very end of Part II, ‘Letter the Last’, and the beginning of the first letter of Part III. Submitted by Grace Andreacchi.

The Passenger and the Privy

I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station
and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit.
I am therefor went to privy.

Just I doing the nuisance that guard
making whistle blow for train to go off
and I am running with LOTAH in one hand
and DHOTI in the next

when I am fall over and expose all shocking
to man and female women on platform.
I am got leaved Ahmedpur station.

This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung
that dam guard not wait train minutes for him.
I am therefor pray your honour to make big fine
on that guard for public sake.

Otherwise I am making big report to papers.

A letter of complaint sent in 1909 to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in West Bengal. Source: New Delhi Railway Museum, via Letters of Note. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Insects In General

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failures unless it comes through your own fault

Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Taken from a letter by F. Scott Fitzgerald to his 12-year-old daughter Scottie, away at summer camp. Submitted by Marika Rose.

Corpses To Remember Him By

I hope I shall not offend you; I shall
certainly say nothing with the intention
to offend you. I must explain myself,
however, and I will do it as kindly

as I can. What you ask me to do I
am asked to do as often as one half-
dozen times a week. Three hundred letters
a year! One’s impulse is to freely consent,

but one’s time and necessary occupations
will not permit it. There is no way but
to decline in all cases, making no
exceptions; and I wish to call your

attention to a thing which has probably
not occurred to you, and that is this: that
no man takes pleasure in exercising
his trade as a pastime. Writing is my

trade, and I exercise it only when
I am obliged to. You might make your request
of a doctor, or a builder, or a sculptor,
and there would be no impropriety

in it, but if you asked either for a
specimen of his trade, his handiwork,
he would be justified in rising to
a point of order. It would never be
fair to ask a doctor for one of his
corpses to remember him by.

The typewritten message Mark Twain would send to autograph seekers, via Futility Closet. Submitted by Marika Rose.

For Whom The Earth Was Made

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press,
the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad,
the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph,
the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure,
the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light,
the sewing machine, and the amazing,
infinitely varied and innumerable
products of coal tar, those latest and strangest
marvels of a marvelous age.
And you
have seen even greater births than these;
for you have seen the application
of anesthesia to surgery-practice,
whereby the ancient dominion of pain,
which began with the first created life,
came to an end in this earth forever;
you have seen the slave set free, you have seen
the monarchy banished from France, and reduced
in England to a machine.
Yes, you have seen much —
but tarry yet a while, for the greatest
is yet to come. Wait thirty years, and then
look out over the earth! You shall see
marvels upon marvels added to these
whose nativity you have witnessed;
and conspicuous above them you shall see
their formidable Result — Man at almost
his full stature at last! — and still growing,
visibly growing while you look. In that day,
who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege
not attainable by his neighbor, let him
procure his slippers and get ready to dance,
for there is going to be music.
and see these things! Thirty of us who honor
and love you, offer the opportunity.
We have among us six hundred years,
good and sound, left in the bank of life. Take
thirty of them — the richest birth-day gift
ever offered to poet in this world —
and sit down and wait. Wait till you see that
great figure appear, and catch the far glint
of the sun upon his banner; then you
may depart satisfied, as knowing you
have seen him for whom the earth was made,
and that he will proclaim that human wheat
is worth more than human tares, and proceed
to organize human values on that basis.

From Mark Twain’s letter to Walt Whitman for his 70th birthday, written May 1889. The word ‘indeed’ was removed from line 18 to aid scansion and three more prosaic lines taken out after ‘England to a machine’. Found at Letters of Note. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.