Monday, September 15, 2014

Maybe It’s Time For Some Deep Thoughts


Ryan McGinely, "YEARBOOK" at Team Gallery, NYC


I was walking around the Lower East Side and Soho the other day catching up on some shows whose openings I happened to miss. Some things I saw were charming and “good.” Others were quickly forgettable and then some were just in a category of familiar disbelief. The familiar comes from having seen something not exactly like what is on view but the feeling of it being something so easy, so pat, so well…familiar. The disbelief is that feeling upon seeing it and just taking a breath to calm disdain and quickly trying to accept that this is how things are and this is how things will be.

One show that really hit this combo of familiar disbelief was the Ryan McGinely show at Team’s Grand Street location. Entitled, “YEARBOOK,” this show consists of over 500, (count ‘em 500), nudes of youths in various shades of mostly white to sometimes brown, and all of them undeniably young and ‘cool.’  The photos are printed and pasted on all the walls and ceilings of the space.  It is basically wallpaper and this is the thing that had me so defeated when looking at it.  I often say the word “wallpaper” to describe ineffectual, unmeaning, just background, blank, and undistinguishing ambience that is resultant of a failure of some effort. Whether it be art, music, commentary, pop culture, or even a person, “wallpaper” for me is definitely a pejorative.

Anyways, back to McGinely’s show. This is an utter wallpaper of a show not only in how it actually was installed but the content.  Who cares about vague coolness? Who cares about distracted gaze? Who cares about a coterie? (PS “coterie” is possibly one of my top 10 words I hate).  Who cares? No one.  But god damn it, it’s right there in its glory and people know that it is all done and over with but man, we keep looking and we keep having to see it.

Why is this happening? Internet, money, New York City death trap, Sotheby’s, MFAs, cultural butt-hole, one-percenters, Beyonce, James Franco, and wadda wadda wadda.  We could go on and on about why this is happening.  I can’t grasp it, nor do I want to in some ways but here is where the challenge lies. 

So much of everything, and especially in the art world is just noise.  I feel like I am having the same conversation, over and over again, about the art world, the art market, money, fame, access, gallery structures, vultures, flippers, spinners, PR agents, whose leaving this, whose joining this, whose funding this, and whose broke.  Maybe I keep having these same conversations because people know that I’m so ‘over-it’ regarding the art world and they feel they have a ready partner in the venting.  They do.  Please people, keep venting away but I have to pause and speak about this challenge that comes from all this vapidity caused angst.

It’s time we all get real and chill out and take some time (TIME!) to have some deep thoughts.  I know that ‘discourse’ and the blah-de blah of Structuralist, Postmodern, dialectic, blabedeblah is like so puh-lease in impulse but let’s be honest people, things have gotten real basic and stupid in culture and most definitely in the art world and those who participate in it.  

There has been an anti-academic tip going on for a decade or so, and rightly so because that was just too expensive, too white, too male and too boring to endure. But now there is a prevalence of flippancy, it’s ‘anti-‘ this or that but nothing that is significantly new, regenerative, or progressive. Everyone can be an artist, being an artist or an art professional is a definite career path for many now. Making work, talking about work, looking at work, buying work, curating work is based on access to influence and riding the wave at just the right moment.  Is this new? No. Does it still suck? Yes.

I guess the only thing I am saying is that I’m really not sure why a lot of the art I’m looking at and seeing out there for the past few years feels so vacant, easy, cool, and is so white noise wall papery.  Yes, of course there are moments of sheer amazing art and brain razzle-dazzle, and this is why I even hold onto a string of giving one crap about contemporary art still but there is a problem.  I think that we should really collectively have it be a goal to chill out, slow it down just a little bit, even if for a little while and just think.  Think and talk and think and talk and think and maybe not talk. There is something off, maybe it’s just me that’s off, (probably), maybe that’s why I’m questing for some golden fleece of illusioned remedy for my problem with art but all I know is that things just feel too contingent on some made up status quo.

Just to confirm my ego on this trend, I also came across this article by the astute, smart, yet not frivolous writer, Alex Ross of The New Yorker. In his short essay entitled, The Naysayers, Walter Benjamin,Theodor Adorno, and the critique of pop culture, he goes through a lot of the clichés of being a theory thinker, and the tacky baggage of that cultural signification.  He also presses into some of the foresight, prophetic and possibly necessary theories and ways of thinking by Benjamin and Adorno and how it relates to the fast food culture of today.  I highly recommend this read to give any who may need it, that extra strength to not feel totally ridiculous highlighting some Adorno.

And here I will leave you with just that. One of my highlights from Adorno’s Minima Moralia, 1951:

One of the motifs of cultural critique since time immemorial is that of the lie: that culture produces the illusion of society worthy of human beings, which does not exist; that it conceals the material conditions on which everything human is constructed; and that by seeking to console and assuage; it ends up preserving the bad economic determinacy of everyday existence: This is the nothing of culture as ideology.

Monday, September 8, 2014

LES Openings: Andy Coolquitt, Heather Guertin, Eternal September, Darja Bajagić

 
Andy Coolquitt, ruby44 From ga Age Over 60 Gender Female 
How often do you shop at jcpenney? FrequentlyRecommends this product? 
No (detail), 2013, Fabric, metal, electric cable, and lightbulbs


Andy Coolquitt: somebody place - Lisa Cooley

A new collection of works by the agreeable Coolquitt that seems a bit over placed but still has the quirky, nice guy quality that makes his work so easy to digest.  Less color, more textures and a general sense of quick experimentation of material to form were refreshing to see although this drive for variety gave the show an all over feeling that may have been better served if edited more carefully.  If you like Coolquitt, this is a safe bet and if you really-really like Coolquitt, this may seem a bit too vague. Perhaps this is just an excising of possibilities though and the next time there will be more focus to allow that tender subtly of his work to shine through.


Heather Guertin, Development - Brennen & Griffin

Guertin’s first solo show at this gallery is uniform in scale and has a feeling of direct reference to abstract paintings’ past.  Darker in hue and more opaque then previous works this new series is lacking in a luster that makes Guertin’s brush and use of color so exciting.  Use of eye forms were distracting to this viewer but perhaps that’s just a simple matter of taste.  Linked in video from her upcoming book, “Not Yet Titles, Cambodia” displaying typing of text from this novel seemed disconnected and perhaps unnecessary.  Guertin is a painters painter and she proves that every effort at it is accumulative, a process and there is an appreciated beauty in that alone even if the current product seems distracted.


Eternal September, Bradley Kronz, Jason Matthew Lee, Mary Ann Aitken, Oto Gillen, Valerie Keane - Tomorrow
This new space is doing some of the same that usually occurs at small new spaces in the Lower East Side but it was still a nice show to peak into and to measure the future vibe of this gallery.  This group show, with a conceptually wide theme, had all the things of success, bright lights, and heavy emphasis on the monochrome, mostly in the black, white, and beige variety.  This was the only show seen last night though that had me asking, “who’s work is that?” to a pair of lovely paper, collage, minor assemblaged works by Bradley Kronz.  They were very nice indeed. That being said, there is something to look forward to in Tomorrow’s upcoming shows, even a little bit of surprise and visual freshness is better then none.

Darja Bajagić, C6ld C6mf6rt - Room East

A solo exhibition of this intriguing artist who has a love it or hate it aesthetic that incorporates found, often times pornographic, images with a system of bounding forms, in this case  it is black squares and rectangles to create hidden narrativized possibilities.  There is a calculated coolness in these works that may possibly haze over actual content but it is true to say that these look very different then what most art being made currently looks like, and that is something to chew over.  There is a crudeness to the material uses that doesn’t seem to be by choice and that seems slightly unforgivable in the case of Bajagić’s possibilities to meet her potential.  Someone give this artist a large budget and then let’s see what she can really do.  


Monday, September 1, 2014

Excerpt From This Book I Will Probably Never Publish



Just remembered that it’s a Monday and Mondays are my blog days so yeah, oops.  So in lieu of anything thought up on the spur of a moment, I will share with you something that is probably very embarrassing for all of us. 

It is an excerpt from a book/novella, that I have been stabbing at for about a year or so with many months of me just pretending it doesn’t exist.

I feel like sharing it with you all because I am at the moment making a concerted effort to edit it and every time I read it I karate chop it down by many words and have a general glazed over ugg expression while I re-read it.

In all likelihood I’ll be too chicken shit to ever actually present it to any living soul let alone to have it published but hey, who knows, maybe in a moment of drunken delusion I will press send to this or that literary connected person.

Enough self-deprecation for the moment though, I give the below with only the sheer determination to not have to make a substantial effort at a post on this hot Labor Day.

P.S. It’s fiction ya’ll



(Excerpt from Searching for Something/(LA, Mexico City) working title)


Evan has a few books in his bookcase. I look at them for the first time since I have been in his apartment. I have felt very vulnerable all day. I pick out a few that look interesting. I start to read one of these books. It is Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s, Reveries of the Solitary Walker, I think this is a fitting title for my situation. Me being in LA and spending almost every day alone. The translation and introduction is by Peter France. His introduction is informative and sharply written. Those are the types of introductions that I like. They reveal the translator to be competent and dedicated but also having form. Peter writes about Rousseau’s beliefs and biography. He writes about how Rousseau thought a person living in society is unable to be their natural self and that solitude is the only place one can truly be oneself. I think of this and feel better about my current situation. The situation of not having any purpose. Of self-exile. Of wanting to escape New York and the life I have there without fully understanding why. It makes me feel not as absurd. It makes me feel like I am in good company. In the company of Rousseau. This makes me feel better. This imagined similarity of conflict of being. This feeling happens sometimes. A lot of the times perhaps. People come across things by other people and it confirms things that they feel or understand in an instinctual sort of way. This makes people feel less alone. It makes them feel like they are a part of and know something bigger and greater. Affirmation of this makes people feel authorized of their feelings and their way of being. When this happens to me, I feel affirmed. I feel authorized. I feel unique and at level to the person more famous, smarter, more cherished then me. I also feel immediate distrust and a slight revulsion because a thing like this, an affirmation of something that was once a private or untapped thought or feeling, then seems common. Reveries of the Solitary Walker was written in 1776-78. Nothing has changed. Evan underlined and made notes in the book. I never underline books. It makes me feel like the words are being battered somehow. It is interesting to see other people’s underlines and notes though. A tiny window into their brain as you read what they were reading. He bracketed an excerpt from Peter’s introduction from a passage of Rousseau’s Emile:

Dragged along contrary roads by nature and by men, forced to divide ourselves between these different impulses, we follow a path of compromise which leads us to neither our goals. So we are tossed about as long as we live, and we die without having been able to reconcile ourselves with ourselves and without serving either ourselves or other people. 

Evan wrote Terrific after the word people. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

God Damn Art Writing

 
Does it seem like everyone right now is on some god damn boat or on some god damn beach or in the god damn woods having a god damn good time?  Well, you know where I am? In my god damn kitchen with no god damn money, worrying about my god damn visa, and having all this god damn crap I have accumulated over the past ten years all packed up around me.  Needless to say I am in no god damn mood to be chipper and all posi about the god damn state of things especially when I start thinking about the god damn art world which is a god damn flaming piece of shit at the moment.

So let’s take a moment.  Breath in, breath out.  Breath in, breath out.  Focus, relax, and let’s use this energy in another way.

Let’s talk about god damn art writing and my issues with it.  This may not fix this piss mood I’m in but it will alleviate some of this tension that is pushing into my brain at the moment.

Art writing, art criticism is at a very strange point.  The academic form of it is something that is made up but it does have a history and a formula.  Mostly that formula takes much esteem and cue from mid century philosophers, almost exclusively white, male, and European, mixed with the side lining poets and beatniks mostly, white, male, gay, and American.

There were two forms of how this past writing was done.  Of the first camp, it was dry, technical, psychoanalytical, and declarative in its authority.  The second camp was more about opinion, observance, and peer driven.  These are the camps that we have inherited and these are not band camps per se but they are stagnant in the relevancy of today.

Today, we have a new sort of form but it is determined by the avenues of publication more so then in the past.  Now, art writing is done by a swath of writers that come from a variety of focuses and writing about art is like a category of writing in which they may participate in versus one of mastery.  Mastery or course is not necessarily the goal or purpose.  This new type of writing is mostly online, quick, linked and so specific in its focus (an artist, a news item) that it is disposable almost as soon as it is published. 

There are other forms of new art writing that have various shades of gray between these two camps but most are in the old guard formulation or huddling close to the new guard as they are means to make a mark quickly and constantly if not definitively. 

I write about this because I have been reflecting on why the hell I do this blog thing every week for going on almost four years now.

In the beginning I did it solely for the sake of empting my brain of art thoughts.  A weekly excising so that I could fill my brain up some more and at times reflect on my previous notions.  Also, the act of writing is a form that allows for a new type of thinking process, new thought strains and the surprising challenges and excitable feelings that comes with using language, sentence structure and words.

Now, after all these years and weeks I am sitting back and thinking well what of it now? 

I have been thinking this over and I think I keep plugging along on this project because it has taught me that this is actually a project.

Maybe it is not ‘art’ in a certain way but to me, yes it actually is. 

It is an ongoing demonstration of unabridged thinking and the actual way I write is something that frankly I am proud to consider a new form of art writing.

No, not a diaristic kind and certainly it needs considered improvements, but the overall idea that art criticism/art writing, can be/is a form of art and that the practice/form of it can be at the discretion and objective of the writer.

Writing, thinking, language is a form that is now more then ever necessary in contemporary art because there is a void of inpendent everything and ideas are still (possibly, hopefully), a bastion of this (independence).

So, what’s the point of all this?  Nothing really, a way to make me feel slightly better about my day, about my talking to the void that is the internet, but it’s also a way to remind myself that god damn it, this is why I keep doing this thing.

Whoever you are, whatever it is that you do, always remember that you are the shit and no one, no one, can mess with that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ernest Hemingway, Soldier’s Home, 1925

 


I am busy and focusing on certain things that are usually not focused on so my capacity for art thought wandering is filtered down.  Plus it’s August, and a near perfect one at that.

In between doing this or that today I have been thinking about what it is that I could share with you all today that might have some meaning to me and possibly to you.  In this manner of thinking I thought about Ernest Hemingway's short story entitled Soldier’s Home from 1925.  Nineteen twenty five seems like a galaxy ago in many ways but the form of writing, the thing of art and the eternalness of what it means to be human is just a speck of time from then to now.   

This is the story that always comes to mind when I am asked about things like ‘favorite writings’ and things like that.  This is probably the closest thing I have to a favorite short story.  It is just shy of 3,000 words and it is swift to read and heavy with the subtleties of emotion and the diffidence in the struggle to just be.  It’s a touch sad but more then anything it feels familiar and trips up feelings that are personal and resonant.



SOLDIER'S HOME (1925)

Krebs went to the war from a Methodist college in Kansas. There is a picture which shows him among his fraternity brothers, all of them wearing exactly the same height and style collar. He enlisted in the Marines in 1917 and did not return to the United States until the second division returned from the Rhine in the summer of 1919.

There is a picture which shows him on the Rhone with two German girls and another corporal. Krebs and the corporal look too big for their uniforms. The German girls are not beautiful. The Rhine does not show in the picture.

By the time Krebs returned to his hometown in Oklahoma the greeting of heroes was over. He came back much too late. The men from the town who had been drafted had all been welcomed elaborately on their return. There had been a great deal of hysteria. Now the reaction had set in. People seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late, years after the war was over.

At first Krebs, who had been at Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel and in the Argonne did not want to talk about the war at all. Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities. Krebs found that to be listened to at all he had to lie and after he had done this twice he, too, had a reaction against the war and against talking about it. A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told. All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else, now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves.

His lies were quite unimportant lies and consisted in attributing to himself things other men had seen, done or heard of, and stating as facts certain apocryphal incidents familiar to all soldiers. Even his lies were not sensational at the pool room. His acquaintances, who had heard detailed accounts of German women found chained to machine guns in the Argonne and who could not comprehend, or were barred by their patriotism from interest in, any German machine gunners who were not chained, were not thrilled by his stories.

Krebs acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is the result of untruth or exaggeration, and when he occasionally met another man who had really been a soldier and the talked a few minutes in the dressing room at a dance he fell into the easy pose of the old soldier among other soldiers: that he had been badly, sickeningly frightened all the time. In this way he lost everything.

During this time, it was late summer, he was sleeping late in bed, getting up to walk down town to the library to get a book, eating lunch at home, reading on the front porch until he became bored and then walking down through the town to spend the hottest hours of the day in the cool dark of the pool room. He loved to play pool.

In the evening he practiced on his clarinet, strolled down town, read and went to bed. He was still a hero to his two young sisters. His mother would have given him breakfast in bed if he had wanted it. She often came in when he was in bed and asked him to tell her about the war, but her attention always wandered. His father was non-committal.

Before Krebs went away to the war he had never been allowed to drive the family motor car. His father was in the real estate business and always wanted the car to be at his command when he required it to take clients out into the country to show them a piece of farm property. The car always stood outside the First National Bank building where his father had an office on the second floor. Now, after the war, it was still the same car.

Nothing was changed in the town except that the young girls had grown up. But they lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it. He liked to look at them, though. There were so many good-looking young girls. Most of them had their hair cut short. When he went away only little girls wore their hair like that or girls that were fast. They all wore sweaters and shirt waists with round Dutch collars. It was a pattern. He liked to look at them from the front porch as they walked on the other side of the street. He liked to watch them walking under the shade of the trees. He liked the round Dutch collars above their sweaters. He liked their silk stockings and flat shoes. He liked their bobbed hair and the way they walked.

When he was in town their appeal to him was not very strong. He did not like them when he saw them in the Greek's ice cream parlor. He did not want them themselves really. They were too complicated. There was something else. Vaguely he wanted a girl but he did not want to have to work to get her. He would have liked to have a girl but he did not want to have to spend a long time getting her. He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. He did not want to have to do any courting. He did not want to tell any more lies. It wasn't worth it.

He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences. Besides he did not really need a girl. The army had taught him that. It was all right to pose as though you had to have a girl. Nearly everybody did that. But it wasn't true. You did not need a girl. That was the funny thing. First a fellow boasted how girls mean nothing to him, that he never thought of them, that they could not touch him. Then a fellow boasted that he could not get along without girls, that he had to have them all the time, that he could not go to sleep without them.

That was all a lie. It was all a lie both ways. You did not need a girl unless you thought about them. He learned that in the army. Then sooner or later you always got one. When you were really ripe for a girl you always got one. You did not have to think about it. Sooner or later it could come. He had learned that in the army.

Now he would have liked a girl if she had come to him and not wanted to talk. But here at home it was all too complicated. He knew he could never get through it all again. It was not worth the trouble. That was the thing about French girls and German girls. There was not all this talking. You couldn't talk much and you did not need to talk. It was simple and you were friends. He thought about France and then he began to think about Germany. On the whole he had liked Germany better. He did not want to leave Germany. He did not want to come home. Still, he had come home. He sat on the front porch.

He liked the girls that were walking along the other side of the street. He liked the look of them much better than the French girls or the German girls. But the world they were in was not the world he was in. He would like to have one of them. But it was not worth it. They were such a nice pattern. He liked the pattern. It was exciting. But he would not go through all the talking. He did not want one badly enough. He liked to look at them all, though. It was not worth it. Not now when things were getting good again.

He sat there on the porch reading a book on the war. It was a history and he was reading about all the engagements he had been in. It was the most interesting reading he had ever done. He wished there were more maps. He looked forward with a good feeling to reading all the really good histories when they would come out with good detail maps. Now he was really learning about the war. He had been a good soldier. That made a difference.

One morning after he had been home about a month his mother came into his bedroom and sat on the bed. She smoothed her apron.

"I had a talk with your father last night, Harold," she said, "and he is willing for you to take the car out in the evenings."

"Yeah?" said Krebs, who was not fully awake. "Take the car out? Yeah?"

"Yes. Your father has felt for some time that you should be able to take the car out in the evenings whenever you wished but we only talked it over last night."

"I'll bet you made him," Krebs said.

"No. It was your father's suggestion that we talk the matter over."

"Yeah. I'll bet you made him," Krebs sat up in bed.

"Will you come down to breakfast, Harold?" his mother said."

"As soon as I get my clothes on," Krebs said.

His mother went out of the room and he could hear her frying something downstairs while he washed, shaved and dressed to go down into the dining-room for breakfast. While he was eating breakfast, his sister brought in the mail.

"Well, Hare," she said. "You old sleepy-head. What do you ever get up for?"
Krebs looked at her. He liked her. She was his best sister.

"Have you got the paper?" he asked.

She handed him The Kansas City Star and he shucked off its brown wrapper and opened it to the sporting page. He folded The Star open and propped it against the water pitcher with his cereal dish to steady it, so he could read while he ate.

"Harold," his mother stood in the kitchen doorway, "Harold, please don't muss up the paper. Your father can't read his Star if its been mussed."

"I won't muss it," Krebs said.

His sister sat down at the table and watched him while he read.

"We're playing indoor over at school this afternoon," she said. "I'm going to pitch."

"Good," said Krebs. "How's the old wing?"

"I can pitch better than lots of the boys. I tell them all you taught me. The other girls aren't much good."

"Yeah?" said Krebs.

"I tell them all you're my beau. Aren't you my beau, Hare?"

"You bet."

"Couldn't your brother really be your beau just because he's your brother?"

"I don't know."

"Sure you know. Couldn't you be my beau, Hare, if I was old enough and if you wanted to?"

"Sure. You're my girl now."

"Am I really your girl?"

"Sure."

"Do you love me?"

"Uh, huh."

"Do you love me always?"

"Sure."

"Will you come over and watch me play indoor?"

"Maybe."

"Aw, Hare, you don't love me. If you loved me, you'd want to come over and watch me play indoor."

Krebs's mother came into the dining-room from the kitchen. She carried a plate with two fried eggs and some crisp bacon on it and a plate of buckwheat cakes.

"You run along, Helen," she said. "I want to talk to Harold."

She put the eggs and bacon down in front of him and brought in a jug of maple syrup for the buckwheat cakes. Then she sat down across the table from Krebs.

"I wish you'd put down the paper a minute, Harold," she said.
Krebs took down the paper and folded it.

"Have you decided what you are going to do yet, Harold?" his mother said, taking off her glasses.

"No," said Krebs.

"Don't you think it's about time?" His mother did not say this in a mean way. She seemed worried.

"I hadn't thought about it," Krebs said.
"God has some work for every one to do," his mother said. "There can be no idle hands in His Kingdom."

"I'm not in His Kingdom," Krebs said.

"We are all of us in His Kingdom."
Krebs felt embarrassed and resentful as always.

"I've worried about you too much, Harold," his mother went on. "I know the temptations you must have been exposed to. I know how weak men are. I know what your own dear grandfather, my own father, told us about the Civil War and I have prayed for you. I pray for you all day long, Harold."
Krebs looked at the bacon fat hardening on his plate.

"Your father is worried, too," his mother went on. "He thinks you have lost your ambition, that you haven't got a definite aim in life. Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married. The boys are all settling down; they're all determined to get somewhere; you can see that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to being really a credit to the community."
Krebs said nothing.

"Don't look that way, Harold," his mother said. "You know we love you and I want to tell you for your own good how matters stand. Your father does not want to hamper your freedom. He thinks you should be allowed to drive the car. If you want to take some of the nice girls out riding with you, we are only too pleased. We want you to enjoy yourself. But you are going to have to settle down to work, Harold. Your father doesn't care what you start in at. All work is honorable as he says. But you've got to make a start at something. He asked me to speak to you this morning and then you can stop in and see him at his office."

"Is that all?" Krebs said.

"Yes. Don't you love your mother dear boy?"

"No," Krebs said.
His mother looked at him across the table. Her eyes were shiny. She started crying.

"I don't love anybody," Krebs said.
It wasn't any good. He couldn't tell her, he couldn't make her see it. It was silly to have said it. He had only hurt her. He went over and took hold of her arm. She was crying with her head in her hands.

"I didn't mean it," he said. "I was just angry at something. I didn't mean I didn't love you."
His mother went on crying. Krebs put his arm on her shoulder.

"Can't you believe me, mother?"
His mother shook her head.

"Please, please, mother. Please believe me."

"All right," his mother said chokily. She looked up at him. "I believe you, Harold."
Krebs kissed her hair. She put her face up to him.

"I'm your mother," she said. "I held you next to my heart when you were a tiny baby."
Krebs felt sick and vaguely nauseated.

"I know, Mummy," he said. "I'll try and be a good boy for you."

"Would you kneel and pray with me, Harold?" his mother asked.
They knelt down beside the dining-room table and Krebs's mother prayed.

"Now, you pray, Harold," she said.

"I can't," Krebs said.

"Try, Harold."

"I can't."

"Do you want me to pray for you?"

"Yes."
So his mother prayed for him and then they stood up and Krebs kissed his mother and went out of the house. He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated. Still, none of it had touched him. He had felt sorry for his mother and she had made him lie. He would go to Kansas City and get a job and she would feel all right about it. There would be one more scene maybe before he got away. He would not go down to his father's office. He would miss that one. He wanted his life to go smoothly. It had just gotten going that way. Well, that was all over now, anyway. He would go over to the schoolyard and watch Helen play indoor baseball.