q. i. f.?

Interruptions in the general pattern of not-drawing have come with some increasing frequency for me lately. Not with great frequency; just a slight uptick. Back in December, I said I was going to start posting sketches in the sketch section without mention here in primary posts, and just about everything I’ve managed in the drawing way since then is there. Most of it’s pretty haphazard stuff.

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I’m in Virginia for a few days, since Friday evening, spending time with family. I grew up in Maryland, a short way north, but I am a Virginian by birth, and as my parents’ families come from (and have tended to remain in) the state, generations back, southward travel ‘home’ is a fact of my life from earliest memory. For a couple of years now (as the regular reader knows), I’ve been living in New York; and the increased distance is something more than physical. But then too, my parents have at last made the long-planned move back to Virginia, where my siblings already were (apart from a brother in North Carolina); with no family to go back to in Maryland, Virginia is more ‘home’ now, in a way, than it was even when it was I who was resident here for a while some years back.

This post isn’t about being a native in some terms, though, so much as it is about having a certain American sense about place and time. Being a Virginian (to the extent that I am) gives that a particular color, and it comes into what’s to follow here, but I don’t mean to pretend that I have anything very special to say about Virginia, or about Americanness for that matter. What I do have to say is something in development, something undergoing re-orientation, as previous posts will suggest. It’s the evolution I want to note, not something uncommon in my views.

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‘I’m afraid I only take ironic pleasure,’ Darrell begins, signaling a shift from communal to personal frame in the course of multi-angled reply here a couple of weeks ago. He’s talking about what we were talking about there, the musics of our youths in church, but let’s strip away the impending specifying phrase and cut him off in mid sentence. It’ll do, truncated like so, for calling up a fear, or a lurking problem, that I’m starting to reckon with — a problem I’m no doubt late in coming around to, and that smart folks will no doubt think uninteresting as I express it, but that I figure I might begin to try to draw into the light a bit in this space. What I mean to get at is the difficulty of owning my own tastes as I get older, and particularly as my view of the historical situation I belong to changes.

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HB in a brilliantly crafted portrait-style piece that I was fortunate to spot on Twitter today. Recalls thoughts I had in mind in a post here a couple of years ago, and makes, plainly, a far better demonstration to suit them than I’ll ever produce.

Say, let’s have another ramble drawn from recent Facebook conversation, shall we? — this occasion an exchange with my sister. My sister is a good deal younger than I; I’m the oldest of four, she the youngest, born the year before I graduated high school. The other day she re-posted the post below, from American Christian country star Steven Curtis Chapman, on her FB page and tagged me, expecting I would like it. She knows me, and of course she was right. In fact, I’ve been kind of stuck on it.

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An hour or so, naturally, after I posted here a few days ago, my comments on the Facebook post of the friend in Texas received their reply. Since I’m really keeping a record of my own FB-comment acts and proceedings, not rehashing a conversation, I won’t quote in full. For clarity, though, here’s part of what he wrote:

I feel that you believe there’s never been much Christianity in America because many Christians believed that slavery — that is, treating people as property — was permissible? If this is what you mean, I confess that I believe many Christians today live with similar self-serving and wrong views. . . . I have met people whom I consider authentic Christians who formerly held — but repented of — belief about abortion. I consider the Christians who formerly held these beliefs to be authentic Christians who have abandoned an erroneous way of thinking. I think there must be many Christians of earlier times who at one time held wrong beliefs about slavery and later repented. In my mind these were real Christians. Many of them sought freedom and justice for slaves.
 

And:

Excessive admiration for heroes can be idolatry, and monuments can promote idolatry. However, I ask you: isn’t the seat of idolatry in the heart of the idolater? . . . Like you, I value the monuments to American heroes. Still, if they are causing serious heart issues in other people I am willing to see them put aside. However, we should recognize that putting aside monuments accomplishes nothing if we only replace them with other monuments that offend a different group of people. So, people of all opinions about the Civil War and race relations need to continually examine our hearts.
 
I pray that we Americans choose to value and respect each other. This will solve many problems. This is hard to bring about, but I have seen God accomplish it many times. Perhaps He will for people of today’s United States.
 

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A new milestone: I got out to a life drawing session, set up through Meetup, last night. It was up around 125th St., west Manhattan; for me, an hour by subway each way. But it was inexpensive and altogether worth the effort. I haven’t drawn from a live model in studio fashion like this in quite a few years — possibly as long ago as my last term at U. of Maryland, twenty years next spring.

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A family friend of my parents’ generation, a lawyer and a solid Presbyterian churchman long in Maryland (where he worked, during the years I knew him best, on behalf of people requiring government income assistance because of disabilities), posted a link to this article published in Texas, where he now lives: ‘Dallas Can Learn from Others As It Considers How to Address Its Confederate Monuments.’ The Dallas article and my friend’s Facebook post came on Saturday, as marches and violent clashes between white nationalists and anti-fascist activists were happening in Charlottesville, Virginia — events whose original cause is supposed to be the city’s decision to remove a prominent equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate states’ commanding general in the American Civil War, 1860–64.

As I did a couple of weeks ago, I’m making this a little record of my own comments left on someone else’s Facebook post. In this case, my comments, written yesterday, were not a little florid and wordy — they were a rant, in short. So far they’ve had no response from my generally wise and dignified older friend.

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Baltimore architect and friend Julie Gabrielli posted a couple of articles on Facebook earlier this month — the first a Conor Friedersdorf column in The Atlantic, the second a consideration of long-time Baltimore community radio talk host Marc Steiner’s career and its challenges — in response to which I left a short comment that I’d like to hold on to here for further noodling.

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Another couple I’ve known from high-school age — school classmates, in this case — have lost a grown daughter, I learned yesterday. This time, a far more terrible loss: a death from car collision. The thought of it is crushing.

The two circumstances hardly bear comparing, you might say — you’d say not without justification. But I bring it into the picture here not just to remark on coincidence. The latter occurrence adds dimension to my thoughts about the former. I’ll come back to it when the occasion’s right to continue.

wait, there’s more.

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