Wednesday, July 21, 2021

the last book I ever read (Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, excerpt ten)

from Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell by Deborah Solomon:

Despite his acknowledged lack of social skills, Cornell made at least one new friend – one new living friend, that is – in 1943. She was Marianne Moore, the poet. A generation older than Cornell, she lived in a frame house in Brooklyn, a sixtyish spinster in a black cloak and tricorn hat. Moore and Cornell had much in common. Both were arch-modernists who lived with their mothers in the outer New York boroughs. Both were legendary prudes. Both were appreciators of the ballet and had contributed to Dance Index. Both were drawn to poetic portraits of animals – the pangolin, for instance, in Moore’s case; the bird, in Cornell’s – as a form of self-portrait. And more generally, both sublimated sensuality into dispassionate, nearly taxonomic precision in their work, and over time would come to stand for the artistic power of reticence.

Cornell became acquainted with the poet’s work through Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, who assiduously courted her for View. Tyler was enamored of Moore’s poems and had published an interview with her in one of the first issues of View. The interview had been conducted at Grand Central Terminal, and Moore appears in the article as a punctilious old maid, her gaze straying anxiously toward the station’s giant clock because “she was to meet her mother at the dentist’s.”

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