Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cullen,

That's very helpful...I'll look up Lopate's essay. I watched My Architect again last night, as luck would have it, straight through. I was no less drawn in--maybe more so with the advantage of an uninterrupted viewing (not quite just like in the theatre...the tv was on, then the good music was blaring, then the piano-playing hour began...but I had my new $14. earphones!).

I was struck with the notion that Nathaniel Kahn is Telemachus, searching for news of his father Odysseus. My copy of The Odyssey is at home and I'm here, but in Edith Hamiton's Mythology, she writes "[Athena] was exceedingly fond of Telemachus, not only because he was her dear Odysseus' son, but because he was a sober, discreet young man, steady and prudent and dependable. She thought it would do him good to take a journey while Odysseus was sailing home, instead of perpetually watching in silent fury the outrageous behavior of the suitors. Also it would advance him in the opinion of men everywhere if the object of his journey was to seek for some news of his father. They would think him, as indeed, he was, a pious youth with the most admirable filial sentiments." Doesn't this match Nathaniel Kahn (and his "role" in MyArch) to a "t"? Well, except that he's not exactly a "youth"...I figure he was about 36 when he made it. I was perpetually intrigued at NK's facial expressions...I'm convinced he meditates. He hears the presumably painful reminders about his father with such equanimity. One of the moments I thought I would have cried is when Kahn's colleague working on the gorgeous Salk Center tells NK that Louis Kahn used to spend Christmas with the colleague and his family...how could NK not think "why didn't he spend it with my mother and me?" But this and other such moments of revelation about LK's life, kind of like Odysseus's trials on his long journey home--covering such territory, too, like Odysseus, from Philadelphia to LaJolla to Bangladesh--NK hears with a mostly impassive face. (Many times I thought he was such a great listener.) I'm trying to remember the one moment when I saw a fleeting hint of pain...maybe it's there in the magically lit, thanks to LK's genius with natural light, stairwell at the Salk Center when NK hears the detail about Christmas.

More later,

Margaret

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