Unreal Nature

November 9, 2017

Little Singing Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… Yes, you are living.

This is from My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Volume 1, 1915-1933 edited by Sarah Greenough (2011). These bits are from the beginning of their relationship:

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Charlottesville, Virginia] • [July 3, 1916]

… And — then there are more things and more things — It may be painful — may hurt — but it’s a great experience —

If everything had gone smoothly I’d not have learned — not have had a chance to feel and think it — all —

When I try not to think I sometimes want to kick myself — for not thinking and feeling all I can — I don’t dare you know —

Thanks again for your letters —
It’s a wonderful night — cool and dark and little singing things —
Goodnight —
Georgia O’Keeffe

[ … ]

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Charlottesville, Virginia] • [July 11, 1916]

… I don’t know what I wrote you a few nights ago — remember — that was just one little part of me — a part that I probably wouldn’t have showed you if I had talked to you —

I know you know it but just the same I want to tell you anyway —
It is nice to know that you are — somewhere —

Tonight is very quiet — little singing things out there in the dark — the night feels so cool and damp — it is very nice — and the moon — only part of it — seems very near — it’s hanging — just a little way off — over the trees.

[ … ]

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Charlottesville, Virginia] • [August 6, 1916]

… When I crawled out of my shell here and took the first step toward doing things — they kept coming and I kept doing them so that I have hardly had time to think — The walk that I told you of started many things —

… From what I’ve been doing I guess you know that I am all right again — I’m not afraid of things anymore — am feeling fine — and it is great — I appreciate it so much more having been sick —

Oh — I simply can’t tell you how I like it — but you know.

… The moon is very hot tonight — and red — hot looking — I slept on the porch — way up in the tree-tops — a large patch of sky.

[ … ]

Alfred Stieglitz • [Lake George, New York] • August 16, 1916

… — Your new work — I opened the package. — Out amongst the trees — the Lake at my feet — There were the drawings. — The new work — I merely glanced at it all — and then glanced once more — as if I were being watched — & wanted no one to see. — I rolled up the drawings & put them away. I’ll look at them again in a few days. — And I’ll write you soon what I think.

[ … ]

Alfred Stieglitz • [Lake George, New York] • August 28, 1916

Isn’t it queer I haven’t had the courage to look at your drawings again. They — the package — is lying at the foot of my bed — on the top of my trunk — & every time I go into my room — & I go frequently I feel tempted to look — & don’t. — And I can’t quite understand why. For I really want to look. —

— And just now — after a day or rain, when the sun broke through the clouds, & the Lake in the setting sun became intensely blue — the opposite shore golden — & the sky filled with huge breaking storm clouds — warm in color — & the sky a rich glowing blue! — As I was wandering down to the dock with my large camera to photograph some of the clouds — I really didn’t feel much like photographing but the clouds were unusual & I felt as if I ought (I oughting to??? — ??? I who don’t believe in such things) — to finally make an effort to “wake up” — just then as my mind was focused on the clouds your letter from Asheville was handed to me. —

— Instead of photographing (and how glad I was not to photograph just then!) I read your letter. — Yes, you are living. — Possibly not being as careful as you might be — or should be — but living often brings with it a seeming carelessness of self! — It’s a great state to be in. No one knows that state better than I do —

— But I had to laugh at myself. I think I know now why I haven’t looked at the drawings again. — None of them reflect any of your recent experiences — ?? — But what is the difference — they reflect you. And you under different conditions are always you. It’s that which attracts me so much to your work. Of course the hasty glance when I opened the package showed me more than months of looking would show most others. — And perhaps I see more than is — but I doubt it. — It is. —

My previous post from Greenough’s book is here.

-Julie

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