Frazier Russell speaks about his exercise based on Thomas Mann, Death In Venice:

This is the 8th draft of the exercise. Exercise is to have the narrator looking at a character. The character is used by the persona narrator as a way to riff; to be philosophical and make shapely sentences.

All movements of his anatomy, when in service of painting or merely thinking about painting he felt, were as much a part of the process as the actual execution itself. And now he reckoned, it was time to surrender the known in favor of some uncharted destination a manner of seeing that somehow exceeded all that had come before; something beyond the impetus and its application, the idea and its action an interrogation of the act of perceiving, as though that perception itself were a text laid bare by the commentaries of his consciousness. Without thinking, the man set his cup and saucer on the wobbly chair with the slightly damp rag tossed over its back. It was dusk and so a magenta light could be glimpsed through the casement windows that surrounded the room on all sides. For so many years, he had stood on the exact spot where he was standing now, by the sofa stacked and piled with photographic reproductions of paintings and other images that he used for inspiration and reference: Giotto, Velasquez. "His beloveds," he called them, to the infrequent visitors he hosted. Always they knew to arrive late at night, bearing a bottle of his favorite Irish whisky Bushmills Black in a paper bag. Klein was not known to encourage visitors, either friends and certainly not strangers but on occasion, when he fancied it, the old painter would invite an acquaintance from a night of drinking to visit him at his studio on the simple condition that the invited guest be as brief in his interruptions as possible; which is to say not to interfere with the atmosphere of silence that he had been building in his studio, around his body and mind and the canvases that he kept turned to the walls for years. Klein felt that only in silence which initiated the pure gaze, could he surpass the merely technical the familiar in favor of something other. And that other was what he was seeking; "the look that surpasseth," he referred to it as, when he was inebriated seated on the floor, his back to the wall in the plaid shirt he wore most days with its frayed cuffs dotted with paint.



To Contributors page

To Of(f)course home page                     To Index of this issue.