Staff Picks: Debilitating Horoscopes, First-Person Photographs

BOMB’s annual fundraiser is, to my mind, one of the best parties of the year. It’s one part gala, one part intimate family gathering—for the second year running, I left the evening more alive than I entered. This year, it was the introduction to the great choreographer Trisha Brown that most moved me. After listening to the toasts in her honor, and watching the short clip from her “Roof and Fire” piece, I set out to find more of her work. It takes patience to sit with this haunting, soundless video recording of her piece “Accumulation,” but that patience will be rewarded tenfold.
                                                                                                          —Uzoamaka Maduka


“You do not necessarily cement friendship with loyalty. You are a good talker, but you do tend to chatter. When crossed, you can be traitorous and may even turn informer.

In love, too, you are changeable and irresolute, bestowing your affection on one lover, then shifting to another and another. Alert to new developments, you rapidly lose interest in the old, even that which was new only yesterday.
The overall picture is one of a personality who excels in speaking and writing, but who is rather undependable. Never content with the here and now, your mind focuses on past and future.”
To get the above astrological “Personal Portrait” from, I had to find out my time of birth. Now, I’ve never been curious about my childhood, much less my birth, so I crowdsourced my siblings on Facebook. My angelic sister didn’t remember (and my brothers didn’t respond), so she called my father, who told her that he couldn’t be bothered to remember because he “had too many children.” Later in the day, before I phoned my mother, I recalled that she once told me never to visit an astrologer: “Never do that. They will slowly gain control of your thoughts.”
My mother couldn’t remember either, so she called my grandmother. Grandmommy suggested that I was born “between 8:30 and 11 in the morning.” Good enough.
I strongly recommend that you do not “order” your astrological portrait. The above excerpt, however insanely accurate, reads like an intervention from a group of long-time friends who secretly hate me. 
We live in an era when (and a city where) we’ve relinquished communality and taken to spiritual tinctures meant to enrich the self at the expense of everyone else. This is just a cranky way of suggesting that it’s probably better to hear about your innumerable flaws and acts of self-mismanagement from your friends. And, anyway, your family doesn’t even remember when you were born.
                                                                                                          —Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon

Last night, I was trying to work out the correct way to discuss the syntax of lifestyle photography blogs. Should we borrow from graphic novels? Is this photo a panel, the gap between posts the gutter? The blog this photo was drawn from, Wolves&Bucks, is quite simple, but it’s a pleasure to watch character slowly emerge over an endless stream of master shots, to watch aesthetic choices—a certain color scheme, a certain camera angle—accumulate into first-person narration.
                                                                                                          —Alyssa Loh


“If Kafka had been a woman. If Rilke had been a Jewish Brazilian born in the Ukraine. If Rimbaud had been a mother, if he had reached the age of fifty. If Heidegger had been able to stop being German.”
                                                            —Hélène Cixous, on Clarice Lispector

Although Clarice Lispector’s first novel, Near to the Wild Heart does invoke a litany of modernist authors, it is an altogether fresh and distinct work, even seventy years after its publication. Lispector probes the past with a figurative, unorthodox voice. The novel moves from subject to subject in seamless buoyancy, as Joana ponders God, marriage, childhood, and philosophy. At a young age, Joana is isolated by her intelligence and mature imagination. She is a woman who is plagued by the fact that she absorbs almost too much of life. She is overcome with an “incomprehension of herself.” Although to me, these realizations make it that much clearer that she is more in touch with herself than the rest of us. In the midst of this psychological vertigo, Joana tries to understand and reconcile a traumatic, orphaned childhood, an unconventional relationship with her teacher, and an unfulfilling marriage to an unfaithful man.    

There are great insights about beginning new relationships and losing solitary time: “Now all her time was devoted to him and she felt that any minutes she could call her own had been conceded, broken into little ice cubes which she must swallow quickly before they melted.

I am relieved by the end to conclude alongside Joana that we have limits—that perhaps our capacity to enjoy life is greater than our capacity to understand life. Reading Near to the Wild Heart can be exhausting in its hypersensitivity, but there are nuggets of beauty and wisdom on every page. It is no wonder she was nicknamed “Hurricane Clarice.”
                                                                                                    —Mark Van Dusseldorp