March 12, 2018

Happy birthday to Jack Kerouac, Dave Eggers, and Elaine de Kooning


Jack Kerouac would be ninety-six today, had he not died in 1969. There are probably better ways to remember him than dashing between English and French and being superbly inappropriate, but that’s how he is in this 1966 interview with an Italian journalist, for which he appears to have gotten positively pickled:

Today is also the big four-eight for novelist, do-gooder, and What We Do Now contributor Dave Eggers. Happy birthday, Dave!

Did you know that more than a decade ago, Eggers wrote the lyrics for One Ring Zero’s song Rita Gonzalo? Oh, human, he did:

And lastly, today is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of artist, critic, and educator Elaine de Kooning. Why not celebrate by reading this phenomenal 1971 interview? Asked about the supposed paucity of women among artistic geniuses, de Kooning replies:

Well, in writing and poetry a few of them managed to survive, as [Linda] Nochlin points out. I was discussing this with the poet David Shapiro and he read me an excerpt from a letter of Rimbaud’s: “When the infinite servitude of women shall have ended, she will be able to live by and for herself; man—hitherto abominable—will give her her freedom, and she too will be a poet. Women will discover the unknown. Will her world be different from ours? She will discover strange, unfathomable things — repulsive, delicious. We shall take them” David, by his intonation and a sly giggle, gave “take” the unmistakable meaning of “confiscate.” But then he relented and added the next line. “We shall understand them.” The letter, he said, was written May 15, 1871. After we hung up, I wondered just what Emily Dickinson was doing that day. It turned out May 15th was the day she died — but 15 years later, so there she was, 40 years old, completely absorbed in her work, unknown to all but a few choice friends. Maybe she was writing I’m Nobody! Who Are You? George Eliot, George Sand, the Brontës took men’s pen-names — but women’s state of mind now is completely different.

There’s also this fascinating recording of de Kooning talking about her friend Mark Rothko:

And then click here for two amazing lectures de Kooning gave at MICA.

And then go forth, and have an excellent week.