There seemed to be two parallel streams in his life. The first—discipline, family order, schooling—dutifully performed but disavowed. The other, an “underground or subterranean” Edward who longed not only to read but to be a book. Everything artistic belonged to this second version: his tastes in reading, his love of music, the creativity he unpersuasively palms off in the memoir as “fibbing.” His childhood friends agreed: “Said was never really part of us … He lived a life separate from us, coddled, spoilt and adored… — Timothy Brennan*
This week, Timothy Brennan and Kai Bird will discuss Brennan’s acclaimed new book Places ofMind: A Life of Edward Said. For information on registering for the online conversation, see:
In her beautiful, hard, and certain essay, “The Love of God and Affliction,” the religious philosopher Simone Weil said: “The great enigma of human life is not suffering but affliction. It is not surprising that the innocent are killed, tortured, driven from their country, made destitute or reduced to slavery, imprisoned in camps or cells, since there are criminals to perform such actions.” I am certain that Alice Neel, more than many an American artist, had a deep understanding of affliction. She did not use her work to escape it, but rather to plunge further into it—into the trauma of being despised, or forsaken. Indeed, if she had any credo as an artist, it was to show us ourselves, and herself, even when (or especially when) it was dangerous and hard to do so. — Hilton Als*
ICA Boston presents the singular documentary ALICE NEEL—directed by her grandson Andrew. See link below for streaming information.