circle

I’m on my way to New York City for a weekend full of the best kind of distractions—a book reading of The Enthusiast by college chum Charlie Haas (a very funny and endearing book that both my partner David and I loved, something that doesn’t happen often), tea at Lady Mendl’s in Gramercy Park, the Francis Bacon show at the Met, a Bill T. Jones/Jason Moran performance in Harlem and spending time with lots of old friends from back in the day. Full circling, to be sure.

And in that spirit, here’s yet another great passage from Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes the World:

One of Picasso’s favorite assignments for a young artist was to have him or her try to draw a perfect circle. It can’t be done; everyone draws a circle with some particular distortion, and that distorted circle is “your” circle, an insight into “your” style. “Try to make the circle as best you can. And since nobody before you has made a perfect circle, you can be sure that your circle will be completely your own. Only then will you have a chance to be original.” The deviations from the idea give an insight into the style, and thus, Picasso says, “from errors one gets to know the personality.”

This, then, is the sense in which an artist both works with accidents yet creates work in which “there are no accidents.” “Accidents, try to change them—it’s impossible. The accident reveals man.” With Picasso as with Jung and Freud, accidents point to the concealed portion of the man or woman to whom they happened.

Ancient or modern, then, one continuing line of thought holds that accidents break the surface of our lives to reveal hidden purpose or design. The carefully interwoven structures of thought and social practice provide stability and structure, but they bring a kind of blindness and supidity, too. Gifts of Hermes tear little holes in those fabrics to offer us brief intelligence in other realms.

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