So, I’ve been working my way through this memoir and am struck by the lyrical quality of it. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, what with Smith’s poetry/song-writing background. But, what is unexpected is the classic vibe of the syntax. Somehow, I know that her early love of classic literature had influence over her writing. I have bookmarked and margin-noted several passages. One, today:
“Robert [Mapplethorpe] took areas of dark human consent and made them into art. He worked without apology, investing the homosexual with grandeur, masculinity, and enviable nobility. Without affectation, he created a presence that was wholly male without sacrificing feminine grace. He was not looking to make a political statement or an announcement of his evolving sexual persuasion. He was presenting something new, something not seen or explored as he saw and explored it. Robert sought to elevate aspects of male experience, to imbue homosexuality with mysticism. As Cocteau said of a Genet poem, ‘His obscenity is never obscene.'”
I’m nearly done with the book and would highly recommend it. To tell you the honest truth, I was never interested in Patti Smith as a musician, nor Robert Mapplethorpe as an artist. I was listening to NPR one morning on my way to work and heard a short excerpt of the book read by the author along with some commentary by the interviewer. I was hooked and immediately added the title to my list of “must-reads at a later date”. I just came across the book a few weeks ago and decided now was the time.
Anyone who has ever wondered what makes a sensational artist tick…this a good behind-the-scenes look at the making of a legendary and controversial photographer.