“The Rabbits are the Stars”: Following the hare in Robert Seydel’s notebooks

Affinities, Robert Seydel

September 10th, 2014


Artist-poet Robert Seydel created many works using the persona of Ruth Greisman, whose emblem was the hare. The following is a constellation of notes and quotations from Seydel’s notebooks (which he called “Knotbooks”) and includes collages and journal pages by Ruth from Book of Ruth and A Picture Is Always a Book. Some of Seydel’s notebooks are currently on display at “Robert Seydel: The Eye in Matter” at Smith College. This blog post is meant to be a kind of virtual vitrine to extend the exhibition online. Any idiosyncrasies of spelling or abbreviation reflect Seydel’s style.

—Claire Cronin





Notebook #44, November 29, 2010

“And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained”

–Wallace Stevens, “A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts”





Notebook #26, March 19, 2006

Something rolls in me: madness of solitude perhaps. But it opens to a vision of space brighter even than Queens. I sit in the center of it like a rabbit smelling the grass stalks.    –RUTH





Untitled [Starry Hare], 2008, from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2011.





Notebook #39, October 12, 2008

“I see the edge of the grey tarmac + every individual blade of grass, I see the hare leaping out of its hiding place, w/ its ears laid back and curiously human expression on its face that was rigid w/ terror + strangely divided; + in its eyes, turning to look back as it fled + almost popping out of its head w/ fright, I see myself, become one w/ it.”

–W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn





Seydel-Eye-in-Matter-Hare-8Untitled “journal page” from A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2014




Notebook #23, March 13, 2005

word: a hare
in a bush. Person
a hare-hunter?
Escape: Animal.
Hare – the human.






Notebook #25, September 18, 2005

march hare – “hare in breeding time, proverbially regarded as an ex. of madness” – Dictionary
march-mad – “excited, rash, w/out self-control”
“mad as a march hare”
“first catch yr hare” – an aphorism: “to the effect that, before disposing of a thing, make sure of yr possession of it”

hare – “v.t. to excite, tease, or worry”
hare – order Lagomorpha, “any of various gnawing mammals”
hare-hearted – “timorous”
harefoot – “figuratively, a swift-footed person”





Seydel-Eye-in-Matter-Hare-6Untitled “journal page” from A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2014





Notebook #25, October 13, 2005

“The rabbit hops alternatively btween field + kitchen garden + is both cuddly + demonic. It bears a streak of lunacy that almost seems to signify its schizophrenia. Its notorious reproductivity, promiscuity, + harebrained behavior are keyed to the moon + the seasons. It was formerly called a ‘coney,’ from cuniculus, from which also comes ‘cunt,’ + the Playboy bunny is at least as old as the eighteenth-century ‘cunny house.’ For centuries rabbit skin was made into underwear. When tabooed animals can be so closely associated w/ such heavily stressed areas as the body openings, the interdictions relating it to language are greatly intensified.”

– Paul Shepard, Thinking Animals




Notebook #25, September 6, 2005

“For me the hare is the symbol of incarnation. The hare does in reality what man can only do mentally: he digs himself in, he digs a construction. He incarnates himself in the earth.”

– Joseph Beuys, Actions, Vitrines, Environments 






Seydel-Eye-in-Matter-Hare-7Untitled “journal page” from A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2014





Notebook #44, December 2, 2009

“These are words + their words holler hollowly in the rabbit burrows, in the metaphors, in the years of our life.”

– Jack Spicer, “A Textbook of Poetry”






Notebook #43, September 30, 2009

Great fish,



is in them

as it’s not in me






Seydel-Eye-in-Matter-Hare-10_600p“Saul & Me & Hare,” 2007, from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2011.