Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Joe Brainard

I’ve been meaning to say something about this wonderful book for some time.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that it cheers me up whenever I look inside.

So if you need cheering up, seek it out.

As Paul Auster says in his introduction: “These little works . . . are not really about anything so much as what it means to be young, that hopeful, anarchic time when all horizons are open to us and the future appears to be without limits.”

To prove my point I have assembled the following: a short piece by Joe Brainard called “Life”, followed by some wholly inadequate scans of some of his drawings. Enjoy.


When I stop and think about what it’s all about I do come up with some answers, but they don’t help very much.

I think it is safe to say that life is pretty mysterious. And hard.

Life is short. I know that much. That life is short. And that it’s important to keep reminding oneself of it. That life is short. Just because it is. I suspect that each of us is going to wake up some morning to suddenly find ourselves old men (or women) without knowing how we got that way. Wondering where it all went. Regretting all the things we didn’t do. So I think that the sooner we realize that life is short the better off we are.

Now, to get to the basics. There are 24 hours a day. There is you and there are other people. The idea is to fill these 24 hours as best one can. With love and fun. Or things that are interesting. Or what have you. Other people are most important. Art is rewarding. Books and movies are good fillers, and the most reliable.

Now you know that life is not so simple as I am making it sound. We are all a bit fucked up, and here lies the problem. To try and get rid of the fucked up parts, so we can just relax and be ourselves. For what time we have left.

Joe Brainard, “Life”, The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, ed. Ron Padgett

UPDATE: Nice piece on Brainard by Dan Chiasson in The New Yorker

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