… a leap from red to blue

After having spent several bewildering & enchanting days in company of Carson’s Autobiography of Red, I’m moving on to blue, or more precisely BluetsBluets, by Maggie Nelson is (if I am to be honest), in its own ways, just as amazing as Carson’s Red.

This is how the publisher presents Bluets:

A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue, while folding in, and responding to, the divergent voices and preoccupations of such generative figures as Wittgenstein, Sei Shonagon, William Gass and Joan Mitchell. 

Here is a taste for you:

1) Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it was a confession, …

2) And so I fell in love with a color – in this case, the color blue – as if falling under a spell, a spell I fought to stay under and get out from under, in turns.

7) But what kind of love is it, really? Don’t fool yourself and call it sublimity. Admit that you have stood in front of a little pile of powdered ultramarine pigment in a glass cup at the museum and felt a stinging desire. …

8) “We love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it”, wrote Goethe, and perhaps he was right. But I am not interested in longing to live in a world I already live. …

13) At a job interview at a university, three men sitting across from me at a table. On my cv it says that I am currently working on a book about the color blue. I have been saying this for years without writing a word. …

14) I have enjoyed telling people that I am writing a book about blue without actually doing it. …

33) … At times I fake my enthusiasm. At others I fear I am incapable of communicating the depth of it.

51) You might as well act as if objects had the colors, the Encyclopedia says. – Well, it is as you please. But what would it look like to act otherwise?

Paul Klee: Blue Coat, 1940, 7 Oil and pigmented wax on paper © Albertina, Wien


Maggie Nelson (1973) is the author of four books of poetry and four books of criticism. She has won a number of awards, including a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction and a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. Her most recent book is The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning


6 Comments Add yours

  1. The Klee piece is a brilliant accompaniment to this post!!

    1. Sigrun says:

      I’m very fond of Klee, and for Nelson I wanted something that could capture a sort of strangeness with some humor. Blue is the color of melancholy, but for Nelson is also very much more – as for Klee.

  2. dianajhale says:

    I don’t know Maggie Nelson’s book but I have one I haven’t read yet by Michael Taussig on the colour blue! That Klee is definitely weird.

    1. Sigrun says:

      weird – it is!

  3. Kim says:

    thank you for bringing this to my attention! i love books like these, but you really have to stumble upon them. it’s like the love for a book gives way to other readers. lovely post, again.

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