My friend the filmmaker/pathologist Dr. Brian Moore sent me, apropos of nothing, a quote attributed to Kojiro Tomita, a famous curator of Asian Arts at Boston’s MFA:
“It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet.” ~Kojiro Tomita
I wrote him back this terse not terribly clever slur:
I came I saw I concur
Meaning I agree with Mr. Tomita’s statement (which was new to me; HE was new to me) and I thought referencing the idea of going to a museum and seeing (or trysting, as the case may be); and referencing the famous “I came I saw I conquered”.
It reminded me, perhaps perversely, of the bit in Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” in which Gopnick accuses his student of cheating and the student replies “Mere surmise sir.” (its funny, at least to me, because the professor doesn’t hear him properly; he hears “mereser mizer?” or something equivalently non-sensical). The Coen’s are playing on racism and cultural differences although they claim to be doing so conscientiously, if that is possible.
A lot of Jews hated the film and thought it was “self-hating” (which would make their reaction redundant) but I thought it was great. Not that that excuses their feeble and perhaps unkind depictions of Asians (think also of the guy in “Fargo” who admits his breakdown to Frances McDormand).
It also reminds me that at the gallery show (I wrote about below, at Nina Dresden Gallery) I ran into a recent acquaintance the Mexican poet, writer and professor Juvenal Acosta and he said the Michele King’s work “was a nicer price.” They were about $3,000 each for her paintings, but since we had been discussing a $110,000 painting at a gallery across the street, that would be “nicer” meaning within reach of more people, perhaps even Juvenal or myself. What he actually said was that he had met Michele previously and liked her as a person and was relieved that he liked her work likewise; it was a “nice surprise.” I told him this story, my mistake in hearing. (Juvenal’s English is appreciably better than my Spanish. His Spanish I’m certain is better than my English).
Jumping to last night, Terry and I were debating the merits of checking out a “Charlie Chan” movie at the Stanford Theatre and we opted against it. Boris Karloff plays the Chinese-American detective. Is it playing because this is Halloween weekend? I.e, a European actor playing an Asian is good programming because we can think of it as his costume? Charlie Chan is Dead, guys!
Meanwhile, the Chron today had an item about the 1935 filming of “The Good Earth” starring Paul Muni and Louise Rainer, and 500 Asian extras, filmed hereabouts.
I was also mentally riffing on Jeremy Lin in the NBA, the film “Ping Pong Playa” by Jessica Yu and the fact that a Chinese computer company now claims the world’s fastest supercomputer (using chips by Intel and Nvidia) and the even odder oddity that that article in Friday’s Chron was next to a legal notice by a Joseph Lin (but not Jeremy’s brother) abandoning his fictitious business name of “Joe 88 Construction” — who in the world could possibly notice or find meaning in these things besides moi?
(I also remember thinking the other day while watching a rerun of “The Office” that I am one of the few people in the world who saw Mindy Kaeling in “Matt and Ben” AND saw Nathan Ford play catcher in the CCS Championship game for Palo Alto High — the show had Rainn Wilson pretending to be a Cornell guy and namedropping Ford who was a two-sport star for the Big Red)
Somewhere in here I wonder about the shard of porcelin vase that Yoko Ono handed out to the crowd at Stanford a couple years back — she said that we should all meet up again and rebuild the vase, like the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam”.
This blog entry is a chop-suey of topics, but not a kama sutra.
edit to add, two years later: for what its worth, someone deems it important enough to post transcript of the scene:
Messages, Professor Gopnik.
Yes, thanks for coming, Clive. Have a seat.
We had, I think, a good talk the other day,
…but you left something…
I didn’t leave it.
Well, you don’t even know what I was going to say.
I didn’t leave anything.
I’m not missing anything.
I know where everything is.
Well then, Clive…
Where did this come from?
This is here, isn’t it?
Yes, sir. That is there.
This is not nothing.
This is something.
Yes. That is something.
What is it?
You know what it is, I believe.
And you know I can’t keep it, Clive.
I’ll have to pass it on to Professor Finkle,
along with my suspicions about where it came from.
Actions have consequences.
No, always! Actions always have consequences!
In this office, actions have consequences.
Not just physics,
And we both know about your actions.
No, sir. I know about my actions.
I can interpret, Clive I know what you meant me to understand.
Meer sir my sir.
“Meer sir my sir”?
Mere surmise, sir.
Speaking of which, uncertainties, I read thru the self-comments below — and those early days of “Plastic Alto” I would footnote via the comments section rather than “edita” — I could not recall Pauline Yao “the new Tomita” – not that I had retained Tomita, either — and the link had collapsed, but when I re-search-injuned it I saw a picture of said Yao with Stephanie Syjuco, who Terry and I met at Montalvo.
edit to add, more than a year later: check back and eventually there will be an addendum here, apropos of re-blogging this (or “self-reblogging” a first for me) in honor of the Tara Donovan show at PACE Gallery of Menlo Park, across the street from Guild Theatre showing the Gia Coppola James Franco vehicle “Palo Alto” — about 2,000 words, bounces around way too much, even for “Plastic Alto”; I am not sure I am making progress even 600 posts onwards. I could summarize the long list of name-checks and shout-outs, many of whom have links. Even links, unless you have susses thru a bunch of them are somewhat gratuitous, as if the reader did not know HOW?! to speak to the Search-Injuns —and by the way, by neologism “search-injun” is sort of a Claes Oldenburg reference, according to Jed Perl. RIYL: Claes Oldenburg, Jed Perl, James Franco, Gia Coppola, Tara Donovan, Stephanie Syjuco, Pauline Yao, Yoko Ono, Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaeling, Nathan Ford, Joseph Lin, Jessica Yu, Jeremy Lin, Louise Rainer, Paul Muni, Boris Karloff, Juvenal Acosta, Nina Dresden, Michele King, Kojiro Tomita, Brian Moore, ….back up to John Arrillaga et al, Tara Donovan, Rachel Kushner, Elizabeth Sullivan, Terry Acebo Davis, Diego Romero, Enrique Chagoya, Miho Morinoue, Kara Maria, Alexander Calder, Bradley Leong, Laurel Nakadate, John Yao,