I ran out of Yellow Marguerites. Anyone who'd still like a print, including anyone who asked me but hasn't paid/swapped/whatever yet, will get a Blue Duras: one of a signed limited edition of ten.
Several people asked me about this drawing of Clarice Lispector and I've decided to also do an edition of Blue Lispector x 10. If you're interested in either, please get in touch: badaude-at-gmail-dot-com.
Both giclee prints are A4 in size, printed on archive paper with acid-free inks. They're UK £25 inc European postage, or £30 inc postage anywhere else - or you can buy me some books to approx the same value...
A few people have asked me about the drawing of Marguerite Duras I made for Berfrois.com so I made a limited edition of 10 giclee prints. They're on museum-grade paper in acid-free inks. Each is signed, numbered & dated. They're a4 in size.
I'm keeping prices low - £20 per print + £5 p&p in Europe, £8 for the rest of the world. If you'd like one, email me at badaude-at-gmail-dot-com.
If these sell out I'll do another edition with a different colour background, but these will be the only yellow ones.
You can pay me via paypal, UK cheque or cash if I'm going to see you soon. If you don't have any of these and wire transfer's too much of a faff, you can always buy me some books to the value of the print, or we could enter into some kind of complicated personal negotiation...
You are what you wear? None more than Joan Didion. There has never been a writer I have wanted so much to dress like - never a writer whose wardrobe, Didion herself suggests, brings me closest to her work. Remember her famous packing list?
"To Pack and Wear:
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil
2 legal pads and pens
This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, and start typing the day’s notes.”
...and remember how, years later, she was criticised for Blue Nights' attention to designer names (the clear implication is that a woman who loves to dress may rightly suspect herself incapable of loving outside herself).
For Didion it's always the clothes - in, On Keeping a Notebook, the "plaid silk dress" with the hem let down, the "dirty crepe-de-chine wrapper", the "mandarin coat" - that persist long after their meanings are forgotten. All Didion knows - although the clothes are not always hers - is that they are pointers to "How it felt to me". And if she's forgotten the 'meaning' of the girl's plaid dress, she can invent one. She takes the material and turns it into the immaterial: words. Turning a plot is "setting a sleeve... Do you sew? I mean I had to work that revolution in on the bias". However much you strip her down to her 'meanings' there's always another dress.
"I do not think in abstracts," Didion said in Why I Write, remembering her college years. "I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor... a physical fact."
If her appearance links her to her characters it's not always her intention: "There was a certain tendency to read Play It As It Lays as an autobiographical novel, I suppose because I lived out here and looked skinny in photographs and nobody knew anything else about me." (Paris Review)
Perhaps women who write are always in danger of being confused with their characters, mistaken for their muses, but Didion deliberately (the jarringly'deliberate anonymity' of her packing list) puts her own tyrannical tininess at the centre of her reporting: "My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrustive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests." (The White Album)
Didon insists on the physical both as itself and as something else. We're divided from her only by the "fifty yards of... transparent golden silk" that casts a "golden light" across her New York window in Goodbye to All That. We're divided by the sphinx stare of her author photos that - like her packing list - is both a description of how a writer becomes able to observe, and a barrier to being seen too closely.
"Before the appearance of a mirror, the person didn't know his own face except reflected in the waters of a lake. After a certain point everyone is responsible for the face he has. I'll now look at mine. It is a naked face. And when I think that no other like it exists in the world, I get a happy shock." Clarice Lispector - Agua Viva
I have never seen Lispector's face naked. She made herself up. Her portraits are a silent film star's. Overexposure blanks out her lines and wrinkles, and eventually the burn-scars she sustained in a house fire, leaving planes of pure light and shadow. What makes her easy to photograph makes her difficult to draw. How do we know it's her? Those lips...
Is she what she looks to be, or does she come about some other way? She writes,
"You who are reading me please help me to be born."
Like Colette, who once ran a beauty parlour, and Jean Rhys, who worked as a model, Lispector spent time in the beauty business - as an advice columnist for Correio Feminino*. Lispector's photo-portraits are so very much like a model's in a magazine, her face displaying the same kind of lonely rapture. Intense sensation without apparent stimulation - is that what beauty is?
This series of drawings came about partly because I happened on a photo of Lispector that looked a bit like me on a good day.
I have tried to draw this picture of her, looking a little like me, many times and, although this photo shows her at her most stylised, her most cartoonish, her least naked - although that's perhaps where I find the resemblance: anyone can paint on those lips, those brows, anyone can look a bit like Clarice as she looks here - I have never quite succeeded in capturing her.I don't have her teeny nose or bee-stung lips but I am infected by the sympathetic magic most women experience on seeing a photograph of a beauty. Look at that model in Vogue! Seeing her, taking her in through my eyes, knowing I could buy her dress (if I were rich enough - another layer of fantasy), I could also buy her sensation, her experience - I could buy being her - or so it seems. If a man desires to possess the beautiful woman in the photograph, a woman desires to be possessed by her. To be possessed by Lispector: imagine...
Drawing is always some kind of attempt at possession - to possess or to be possessed - and I'm never sure which.
*if anyone can track her columns down in English send me a link, please do: I'd very much like to read them.
"One day, I was already old, a man came up to me in the entrance of a public place. He introduced himself and said, “I’ve known you forever. Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than you were then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.”
Like so many women writers, Duras' face was her fortune, a life's work. It is her face that appears on the cover of her best-known work, The Lover. Is she the book's protagonist, or isn't she? Is The Lover a novel from life? Why is it important that women play this triangular game: face, fortune, fiction?