Thursday, July 18, 2002

The Essential Edward Hopper by Justin Spring

Well, that was quite a gap. I told you this journal thing was going to be sketchy at best. Don’t worry, I finished reading Moby-Dick for the third time, and I see it coming up again on the rotation, so maybe I’ll get the chance to finish my own Cliff Notes. I also finished 61 other books since The Gettysburg Nobody Knows (the one described before the essay on Moby-Dick began, including individual biographies on Lee and Jackson. During Jackson, I actually tried to keep track of all the times Lee, Longstreet, and Jackson were together, either by themselves or with other folks. It wasn’t easy. I don’t think the author knew that’s what I wanted to use his book for, since he wasn’t always clear about their specific comings and goings. At some point, I should probably copy those notes into this notebook, but not tonight. Other highlights of those 61 books include two books on Crazy Horse, one by Larry McMurtry, which trashes the other one by Stephen Ambrose (although I loved them both), Catch-22, which I didn’t like while I was reading it but was really glad I had read after it was done, Who Wrote Shakespeare?, which led me to conclude just about anyone else did besides William Shakespeare, Real Boys, which made me think a lot about how I want to raise my son without a gender straightjacket, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I started reading to my son in the womb and finished on my own after he was born, On the Origin of Species, which I was surprised to discover did not contain the word “evolution,” and Angela’s Ashes, which made me wonder what on earth I would wake my son up in the middle of the night and make him pledge his life for. Now, it’s The Essential Edward Hopper, which I thought I bought in Chicago but the tag says Boston. I’ll have to start writing about it tomorrow.

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Light. Would I have predicted that is what I would have found most interesting about Hopper’s paintings? Or at least what they would have made me observe in a way I never had before? Look at Morning Sun (above). That’s not light coming in the window. That’s a green square on a brown square. It only looks like light because that’s what our eye is used to seeing. But that’s not what he painted nor what he had to think about in order to paint it. I don’t think I’m ever going to look at a painting the same way again. I mean, I’ve always liked the way light can be made to look in paintings, but there has always been something in my brain which has prevented me from seeing what it really is. It’s only because it’s so obvious in Morning Sun that I’m now able to appreciate other paintings in a whole new way.

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The Essential Edward Hopper by Justin Spring
on Amazon
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