James Salter (1925-2015)

Salter pilot

From the interview of Salter in Paris Review, Summer, 1993:

“I’m not the first person who feels that it’s the writer’s true occupation to travel. In a certain sense, a writer is an exile, an outsider, always reporting on things, and it is part of his life to keep on the move. Travel is natural. Furthermore, many men of ancient times died on the road, and the image is a strong one. Kings of Arabia, when they are buried, are not given great tombs. They are buried on the side of the road beneath ordinary stones. One thing I saw in England long ago struck me and has always stayed with me. I was going to visit someone in a little village, walking from the railway station across the fields, and I saw an old man, perhaps in his seventies, with a pack on his back. He looked to be a vagabond, dignified, somewhat threadbare, marching along with his staff. A dog trotted at his heels. It was an image I thought should be the final one of a life. Traveling on.”

I came across Salter late in my life, two years ago. His descriptive powers, in part illustrated above, are deep and wide. The first chapter to A Sport and a Pastime is like no other introductory–speeding across France on the train–and his prose grasps you so you are there with him in the compartment.

Read Salter and travel. Yes, as someone has written in the Comment section, the world is lighter in weight with Salter’s death; the heavens, I think, be heavier with his passing for he is up there, amidst the clouds.

[Copied from my contribution to the Comments section, The New York Times, June 20, 2015, James Salter obituary.]

Salter Paris

Neverending Story from Artforum on Charlie Hebo

Click the link to read the full article in Artforum on the art and satire in the public realm.  Excellent piece on the full range of satire.


Beyond the fundamentals, however, there is hardly any agreement—among artists or anyone else—on the issues raised in the aftermath of the Paris and Copenhagen attacks. The cartoons themselves, seen mostly out of context as they circulate online, have proven especially divisive. For most, they are difficult to defend, and easy to take personally—as Arabs, as Muslims, as anyone with ties by love or family to the Middle East. This has nothing to do with figurative representation or depictions of the prophet in Islam, “fruitless arguments,” as Dinlenmiş describes them. Artists in this part of the world know the history. (Nasser Rabat, a distinguished scholar of Islamic art and architecture, describes it at length in the current issue of Artforum.) Examples of Muhammad’s face and figure abound. For every source that tells you there is an absolute prohibition on picturing the prophet, there’s some anecdotal counterimage that blows your mind. Ayatollah Khomeini kept a portrait of Muhammad as a child in the sitting room of his home in Qom. A decade after his death, it was possible to buy posters and key chains in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar adorned with an unabashedly erotic picture of the prophet as a young man with a bared shoulder and a flower behind his ear, an image based on an old orientalist photograph by Lehnert & Landrock of a beautiful Tunisian boy.

Finding Meaning in the Midst of Oppression


GAZA-master675 2

In Nov. 18, 2013, Ms. Badwan said, she was harassed by Hamas officers while helping with a youth arts program. They questioned why she was standing with men. They chastised her for wearing those jean overalls and made her sign a paper promising not to go outside without loosely fitting, traditional Islamic garb.

“I told them I’m an artist; they said, ‘What does this mean?’ ” she recalled. “I said, ‘I make films and videos.’ They said, ‘We don’t know what you are talking about, and what do you wear? Why do you look so different?’ They hit me.”

The next day, Ms. Badwan retreated to her room.

Click the link below to access The New York Times article and her photography: