Saturday, June 02, 2007

Two Lives for the Journey

Certainly the last thing I needed was yet another book to add to the pile on the nightstand shelf, but Martin Duberman's The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein is proving to be worth the $37.50 investment. Kirstein has always been a fascinating figure, if only for that pouty, overly self-aware expression in all of his photos. (He did an entire series posing as gangsters and boxers despite his Harvard roots.) I've read at least a couple of his self-penned memoirs and other books chronicling his era and circle that sometimes crossed with the previously mentioned Leo Lerman who cites him occaisionally in his journals. These two long lives that were contemporaries. give or take a couple of years, shared a commonality of various same sex couplings but chose very different paths in their mutual marriages. Lerman was with a male partner for decades, and Kirstein was married to a woman in a virtually chaste but not unloving relationship. The crankiness in those photos is apparently not a pose but perhaps connected to his likely bipolar disposition.

Though his lineage and circle are ones I could only dream about, there is much about this 6'3" jewish man's life I could relate to, particularly his own memoirs such as Mosaic in which he muddled fact and fic
tion and used an anonymous 1930s magazine photograph to represent a past lover. What is fact and what is fiction? And why should one muddle with clarifying those two f-words instead of focusing on truth? That, indeed, is why I ultimately abandoned my path in journalism, but then recent infractions at the Times and New Republic prove that I am not alone in the blurring of the lines.

Kirstein himself summed it up best when introducing a teenage production as being "a
world wholly, profoundly dedicated to the realization of the unreal." A "bad "student who was too inventive to follow instructions or color within the lines, he ambled down many paths before making his name in the ballet world and proving one of the most influencial forces in 20th century art. Knowing that it's nearly impossible to sort out the fact and fiction of his life makes the book all the more interesting of a read.

The last thing I am interested in following is a tedious tale of mental disfunction, but that's fortunately a small part of this 723-page read.
A couple of decent books, of course, are welcome additions to the impending chase of the sun across America and a good diversion from trying to guess how many people in the two surrounding rows have TB.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home