“The Rabbits are in the Stars”Following the Hare in Robert Seydel’s Notebooks

affinities, 09/10/14

Selected and arranged by Claire Cronin

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. —CC

1.

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”

2.

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

3.

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

4.

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

5.

Untitled “journal page” from A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2014.

6.

NOTEBOOK #23, MARCH 13, 2005

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

7.

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

8.

Untitled “journal page” from A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2014.

9.

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

10.

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

11.

Untitled “journal page” from A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2014.

12.

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”

13.

NOTEBOOK #43, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

Great fish,
rabbits
Paradise
is in them
as it’s not in me

14.

“Saul & Me & Hare,” 2007, from Book of Ruth by Robert Seydel, Siglio, 2011.

see also


✼ the improbable:

A miscellany of investigations, rants, manifestos, meditations, studies, lists, questionnaires, film scripts, and more in Issue 1, No. 1 Time Indefinite. We’re posting contributions, one by one.

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