Gregory Martin’s Stories for Boys (Hawthorne Books) follows the trauma his family suffered after his father revealed a promiscuous gay lifestyle. In societies awakening from the time when homosexuality has been regarded as taboo or worse, his book will be included as one in a succession of catalysts provoking homosexual men to shed the duplicity and masquerade of presenting themselves outwardly as heterosexual.
Gregory Martin visited Seattle recently to discuss his book at the Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Reads program. I met Greg at Elliott Bay Books on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and we discussed Jason Collins’ coming out, the films of Ang Lee, and the implications of Stories for Boys for future generations.
Caleb Powell: Your book hit home from the outset with your father’s attempted suicide, coming out, and then divorce. Your narrative interspersed with strong essayistic momentum, the presence of Whitman, watching M*A*S*H with your father…these interludes complemented the whole. Well done. But I want to focus on one thing you wrote, that nothing is more important to our society than our treatment of homosexuals. We face terrorism, economic disparity, environmental issues, poverty and so forth, so why do you think homosexual rights deserve to be at the forefront?
Gregory Martin: I guess the first thing is that I don’t think the issue of sexual identity is in competition with any of those other things. In the sense that—the fact we may have no more polar bears in the future…is awful. I don’t think it’s more or less awful, necessarily, it’s just awful. I was speaking in respect to civil rights issues. I wrote that it was “the most important moral issue we face as a country since Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.” Like just today, in basketball, Jason Collins coming out as an active NBA player.
Martin: Yeah. And Kobe Bryant, who was called out a few years ago for making a gay slur, Tweeted yesterday in support of Collins. There’s this domino effect happening, right now, a beautiful thing. Brittney Griner, an amazing basketball player, probably the best women’s basketball player in the country, can come out.
Powell: In the early eighties Billie Jean King, married to a man for years, came out as she retired, and Martina Navratilova came out in the early eighties at about the same time. Women are a little ahead of us men in that respect.
Martin: True, and that’s why the Jason Collins thing is important. Hopefully stories like my dad’s will be more infrequent. I mean, I think there’s always going to be this very conservative, fundamental aspect of our society where being openly gay isn’t possible without tremendous courage. I can see thirty years from now that that’s still being very hard. In Alabama, Texas, the Bible Belt; certain places. But ten years ago we weren’t having this conversation in this country. We really weren’t.
Powell: Have you followed homosexual rights in Europe? Ten or fifteen years ago, more, many European countries had put into place a lot of what America is doing now. Gays in the military, etc.
Martin: You know, I haven’t.
Powell: Politicians like the late Pim Fortuyn in Holland; openly gay. But, right now, the clash is between religion and homosexuality, fundamental Christianity and Islam, Jerry Falwell or the Westboro Baptist Church. In Ian Buruma’s Murder in Amsterdam, about the assassination of Theo van Gogh, mainly for his outspoken views and filming of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Submission, Buruma makes a compelling case that Islamic leaders see European acceptance of homosexuality as proof of Western decadence.
Martin: I don’t know anything about that, but I’m interested. I remember reading about Theo van Gogh’s killing, being affected. I know, in France, just yesterday, they voted to have gay marriage be the law of the country. I think it overwhelmingly won, but there was a strong vocal minority. But actually, it’s embarrassing how little I know about European history.
But for my father, who was born in the forties, grew up in the South, a Southern Baptist home, there was no opportunity for him to explore sexuality. He basically met my mom and thought this is an opportunity for happiness. He didn’t see another path. And our kids, they’re going to have a lot more paths. I think we’re all, as parents, going to be a lot better at helping them find their way for who they are.
Many homosexual men, in the past, would lead two lives. They would experiment or participate in life as a heterosexual person, not just going through the motions, but having sexual relations, marriages; children. You know—Stories for Boys was just picked by the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Society’s Book Club as the Book of the Month for May, and their email talked about how common it was for members to have lived as my dad lived. To have a heterosexual relationship. And I think the tragedy for my dad is that the companionship he had with my mom was pretty beautiful—authentic. It didn’t have anything to do with his sexual identity.
Martin: I’m not. Just Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger.
Powell: It’s about a Chinese man living in New York City with his male lover, his parents live in China and always are asking him when he’s going to get married and have children, and they decide to visit. The gay Chinese man knows a Chinese girl, she needs legal status for immigration, so he grabs a stone and kills two birds by marrying her.
Martin: I love that.
Powell: There are a few pretty wicked twists. The father turns out not to be so rigid.
Martin: I’ll check it out. The thing that I love about Brokeback Mountain is that western stoicism, my mom’s family—they’re all from rural northeastern Nevada, a town of thirty people—
Powell: Your first book, Mountain City.
Martin: Yes. That notion of people never having really any cosmopolitan view of anything, much less sexuality, and at the same time being intelligent in other ways. They’re incredibly competent, smart, stoic in a good way, forward looking but not introspective, but I thought that movie got that right.
Powell: Definitely. Still, about your book, I wonder if you gave your father too much leeway. You created sympathy and empathy, you humanized him—I’ve got two ways to attack. Number one, he wasn’t having loving relationships, his secret life involved multiple sex partners, hedonism, unprotected sex, and endangering your mother. Like a heterosexual man who frequents prostitutes and thinks that okay because it’s outside of love.
Powell: Judgment is crucial and can be benevolent. You addressed his moral failings, but I felt you almost gave them a pass.
Martin: I love to tackle that question and hear that response. There’s a very brief section in the book where I basically say to him, you know, did you ever worry you were going to give mom AIDS?
Powell: Ten years without a physical relationship.
Martin: Right. But the whole time he was having kids he was having affairs. And this is through the early stages of the AIDS crisis. And he did worry, but not enough to stop. Here’s the thing, I think the really difficult line that you walk, as a memoirist, you want to portray everyone, including yourself, as compassionately as you can, but with clear sight. That means not letting people off the hook, allowing the reader to form complex judgments. One of the things I tried to do was to show how frustrated, betrayed, confused, and angry I felt. But the point you’re making: shouldn’t he be held even more accountable for endangering my mom—you made that judgment.
Powell: I did.
Martin: And that’s okay.
Powell: I wasn’t ready for the group hug or grandpa building forts with his grandsons, because I hadn’t resolved my emotions. But he’s not my father.
Martin: You know, I appreciate hearing that, but from other readers—they felt that, well—how could I be so angry? They wondered—why weren’t you more accepting? Can’t you understand where your father’s coming from?
What you try to do as a writer is build this world of moral possibilities where the reader gets to participate. They bring their own thoughts and feelings and you’re basically asking them to say here’s what I acted on. And that forces the reader to play the game. What would you have done? I mean, Tim O’Brien has this great essay where he talks about the story as a form of situational ethics. Forcing the reader to say, “What would you do?” Would you let him off the hook?
Powell: This leads me to the next problem: I didn’t get enough of a sense of your mother. You evoked her, brought her in, but I wanted more. It was like, “She’ll be fine. She’s strong—now about my dad.”
After the divorce your father drained her bank account. That’s insult to injury, yet your point was: “Look at his suffering.” But what about her? Your father never got it.
Martin: He can’t see, in some ways, outside of his perspective. He knows how much he hurt her, but he’s still, you know, he just visited us for Evan’s tenth birthday, and he said, “It’s been six years. You’d think she’d talk to me now.” He cannot fathom the degree to which she has said, “We’re done. No more”
And I don’t think he even, in the months afterwards, really understood. He thought, “Well, you know, I tried to kill myself. That’s how bad I felt. Why can’t you take me back?”
So, you’re right, I think in some ways how you see my dad is the way I was trying to characterize him, but at the same time I did not want to write a story about my mom’s experience.
Powell: What was your mom’s reaction?
Martin: I’m going to back up here and then I’ll tackle that. I think a book can be strengthened by what you leave out as much as by what you leave in. The more you focus the more depth you get. I wanted to focus on my reckoning, my reconciliation with my dad. That’d be the through line. I was trying to balance and give the reader enough about my mom so that you couldn’t say she’s not in the book. But let’s not make her an equal topic in terms of time, of rendering. What you’re telling me as an editor/reader is, “I want to know more about her.”
Powell: No more giving dad rope, let’s hear what mom thinks.
Martin: Martin: That’s a valid reading. It’s not the first time I’ve heard your reaction, and that’s okay. There’s this great quote about the novel by Randall Jarrell. He said that, “A novel is a prose narrative of a certain length with something wrong with it.”
Powell: The perfect novel doesn’t exist. It can’t.
Martin: It’s a flawed thing that I made about a time in my life I was trying to figure out. But it was guided by a principle of selection that asked, what’s the main relationship that you’re investigating? The one with your dad. Your mom needs to be a character, but not a major one, she’s important but minor.
One of the fears I had was that if I wrote too much about my mom’s experience that my book would stray. But in terms of what my mom felt, she’s been to readings. At the Utah Book Festival she sat in the audience. Someone asked, “What does your mom think?” And I said, “Let’s ask her?” And so she fielded the question.
Initially, well, she felt reading it was like taking a scab that had formed and just ripping it off. It was very hard for her. So my mom, she’s kind of a perfectionist, and she’s fierce about the truth, and she felt that if you’re going to do it, you need to make it as good and as full of conflict as it needs to be. Many of the details come from me sitting down with her. A lot. Yeah.
Powell: That brings me back to Jason Collins and my own take. Evidently, Collins was with Carolyn Moos, a woman’s basketball player he met at college at Stanford, for eight years. They were engaged but he broke it off a few years ago. Recently she said, “Every morning, he woke up and put on a mask for thirty-three years. . . I just can’t imagine going through thirty-three years of your life and denying yourself out of fear.”
This segues to my wife, who married in her early twenties to Mark. Within a year they divorced and Mark came out. Mark’s a nice guy, he sent a gift to my wife when our baby was born. Mark even introduced us to her real estate agent, Shane, who’s gay and he’s almost fifty. My wife said, “Shane’s always been gay. He never married a woman, and that’s a big difference compared to what Mark did.” Mark’s apologized, my wife’s understanding, but the experience was pretty troubling. Mark wasted years of my wife’s life, Jason Collins wasted years of Carolyn’s life, and your father…he grew up in the fifties, he was abused, lived in a conservative culture, but…this taints how I perceive your father.
Martin: Sure. And you bring that sympathy and wish to protect your wife.
Martin: Hold on (pulls out his smart phone). I want to show you something, I got this email today, 1:08 in the afternoon, look—I’ll read it out loud: “I’m a sixty-three year old mother of two, I’ve been married forty years to my husband, a wonderful man who’s gay. I learned that a few years ago after decades of no intimacy.”
Today. This woman sent this a few hours ago. And the story you just told me, or the story about Jason Collins, I’ve had that story told to me over and over since I’ve started working on this and after publication. A lot of people have personal experiences with—someone who was lived a secret life—or that feeling of being betrayed by infidelity, or having someone they love come out. It’s really common.
Powell: And the opposite never happens. You know, two gay people together for years, and one says to the other, “You know, I’ve been living a lie, I’m really heterosexual.”
Martin: (Laughs) That needs to be my line. Awesome. But I would say, as an author back to you, that that kind of criticism is what I appreciate, a strong response. That hopefully I created a story that came alive and that you have really strong feelings about.
Related: Jason Collins and When Coming Out Won’t Really Matter by Gregory Martin, Seattle Times
Caleb Powell: You excoriate the traditional novel and fiction in Reality Hunger, yet you began writing fiction. It turned out not to be your forte. Why the attack? Isn’t it like an impotent man vowing abstinence?
David Shields: That’s a funny analogy. And I’d be a fool to think that type of criticism won’t emerge… (from The Rumpus)
David Shields and I, at antipodes since the UW, headed into the Cascades for a few days and threw down. The focus? Art vs. life. The result was announced 4/26/13 at Publishers Marketplace:
NONFICTION - General/Other – NYT bestselling author David Shields’s I THINK YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL, a debate about life versus art, in which Shields’s co-author, Caleb Powell, always wanted to become an artist, but overcommitted to life (stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas Shields has overcommitted to art and forgotten to become a human being, to Ann Close at Knopf, by PJ Mark at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).
“Twenty years ago, another undergraduate, Caleb Powell, was in my novel-writing course; we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve read and critiqued his stories and essays. A stay-at-home-dad and freelance journalist, he’s interviewed me occasionally when a new book came out. We disagree about nearly everything. I’ve sacrifice my life for art; Caleb, vice versa. He’s one of the most contrary people I’ve ever met…” David Shields, from How Literature Saved My Life
Caleb: …that opening of our interview in the Rumpus, when I asked, “You began writing fiction; it turned out not to be your forte. Why the attack? Isn’t it like an impotent man vowing abstinence?”
David: Only about fifty other reviewers used the same trope. I’d say I’m more like a man in love pointing out to the man on Viagra that he’s fucking a sex doll. (from I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel)
“Riding a Mower” vs. Reality Hunger:
“Moral equivalency is liberal BS.” – Bill Maher.
The Boston Marathon tragedy set in motion tension between liberals and conservatives. Religion and race begot polemics and accusations:
“However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.” – David “White Guy” Sirota, from Salon.com – Let’s Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber Is a White American
Most people don’t want to play this constant game of “Tag, you’re racist!” Smugness, in the form of accidental not quite reverse race baiting, stinks. Whether from seasoned journalists like Sirota or cliché-riddled dorks like Oelbaum. As the right wing should be excoriated for tolerating Ron Paul’s lame defense of his newsletter, liberals should have an equally sensitive hypocrisy meter. Instead, we get pabulum like this:
“Can you imagine the ‘fits’ black people would throw if white people had a history month other than January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December?” – Roxane Gay, from Seriously Though, When Is White History Month?
Racist Accusations: I don’t think Sirota, Oelbaum, or Gay are racist. They are disgusted by racism, but simplify and magnify comments such as by Ron Paul. To generalize or specify racism takes awareness of demographics. Yes, racism exists, some whites have privilege, there are inequalities, but how many racists are there? Two percent? Five percent? Ten percent? Even so, 98%, 95%, or 90% are not racist. (In context of the Boston Marathon atrocity, substitute fundamentalist for racist and the same stats apply, most Muslims are peaceful). The KKK and white supremacists are fringe assholes, the left and right need to focus. As for racism that should be condemned, we don’t have to go back to the days of slavery or segregation:
“Our clear goal must be the advancement of the white race and separation of the white and black races. This goal must include freeing of the American media and government from subservient Jewish interests.” – David Duke
“Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.” – Ron Paul, from Newsletter period, The Atlantic
Distractions: Media needs a course in Prejudice 101 – Ignorance creates fear, fear creates superiority complexes and insecurity, racism ensues. David Sirota, your article is vile and contributes to ignorance. Don’t diminish the serious nature of racism.
Folks, all’s not lost, it’s possible to reflect on the Boston Marathon cogently. Here’s a pertinent argument: do Muslims look at terrorists the same way as most Christians look at the Westboro Baptist Church? And who better to start the fire than far leftie Bill Maher and Muslim author Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, as well as Ali A. Rizvi?
“There’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So, you know, I’m just saying, let’s keep it real.” – Bill Maher, discussing Islam with Brian Levin, April 19, 2013 – Current TV
“There is a deep soulful battle of identity raging within the Muslim consciousness domestically and abroad between Westernism and liberalism. In essence the Islamists confront every situation in a selfish ‘we are the victims’ mentality and the rest of us non-Islamist Muslims need to instead respond with a louder and more real leadership and say: ‘We will not be victims.’” – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Islamic Leader Issues Tough Response
“…anything but jihad” brigade is out in full force again. If the perpetrators of such attacks say they were influenced by politics, nationalism, money, video games or hip-hop, we take their answers at face value. But when they repeatedly and consistently cite their religious beliefs as their central motivation, we back off, stroke our chins and suspect that there has to be something deeper at play, a ‘root cause.’” Ali A. Rizvi: An Atheist Muslim/Huffington Post
“As a Muslim I know what she did and what its (sic) punishment is and she should know better than to do what she is done. we keep these values and you dont (sic) we are proud of who we are and what we believe in, at least we have something to believe in. she has been condemned and punish by stoning. she deserves what she gets.” – Shazida Khatun, commenter and verb-slayer on Amina Tyler: Tunisian Girl Outrages Islamic Authority
What she did: Amina Tyler, a Tunisian woman, published now iconic topless photos of herself on Facebook with Arabic and English written on her naked torso. Her message challenges the male dominated ideology of her society. Femen, a Ukranian activist group that has targeted European Nationalists and the Pope, launched a Topless Jihad in Amina’s support. There’s more on this at The Atlantic, The New Yorker and The Huffington Post. Tunisian clerics have called for her death.
Femen, in some ways, represents a common sentiment within the West, the rejection of fundamentalist misogyny that hurls stones literally and figuratively at women in religiously oppressed societies. Here’s what Amina wrote (translation):
“I own my body; it’s not the source of anyone’s honor.” – Amina Tyler
Missing the point: On the other side we have the Muslimah at Al Jazeera, self-described “moderate” Shazid Khatun, and cultural and religious apologists such as Glenn Greenwald (more horrified by Sam Harris than by the Taliban), who seem to think misogyny is wrong only in the West, but when certain cultures oppress women, that is moral relativism and a right. Observe the Muslimah:
“FEMEN can’t tell me what I can and can’t wear!” Muslimah Pride
“Nudity does not liberate me and I DO NOT need saving!” Muslimah Pride
Muslimah Pride, c’mon, no one is telling you how to dress. Amina’s message implies, “Don’t tell me what to wear, don’t condemn women for their choices.” You choose to dress as society compels you to, fine, but do you really have a choice to dress otherwise? Amina questions this compulsion, that’s all.
Muslimah – Amina has now been threatened by death. I ask the Muslimah, Al Jazeera, and the educated Muslims of the world, where do you stand? Are you with the clerics and the Shazidas who call for her death? Or do you support her right to free speech? Her act may be offensive, and FEMEN’s use of nudity may be offensive, but those are different arguments. What about peaceful expression? You protest her message, but remain silent as clerics demand that she be killed. Is that how you want to be perceived?
You see the girls on the left? In Afghanistan and Pakistan women risk their lives for education. The attempted assasination of Malala Yousafzai evidence. Muslimah, if you have education, use it. The rights Amina Tyler and Femen demand apply to you. If you wish to don hijabis or nikaabis, go for it. But instead of protesting Amina, why not protest forcing rape victims to marry their rapists (Amina Filali), honor killings, and education for women? I think you do incredible harm to your religion when, by your silence and the battles you choose, you prioritize the trivial over the serious. Islam is about peace, ladies, so why not speak for peace by supporting it?
“And you can put as many scarves as you want if you are free tomorrow to take it off and to put it back the next day but don’t deny millions of your sisters who have fear behind their scarves, don’t deny that there are million of your sisters who have been raped and killed because they are not following the wish of Allah! We are here to scream about that.” – Inna Shevchenko, Leader of women’s movement FEMEN
Taliban UPDATE: “We lost Afghanistan in 2001 because of 9/11 at a time when we almost controlled 100 percent of Afghanistan,” a Taliban intelligence officer says. “We don’t want these incidents to upset our plans again.” – Comment made after Boston Marathon bombing, confirming how terrorism reflects on Islam.
Update: “How can you wear your scarf with so much proudness . . . like it’s the hat of Che Guevara? It symbolizes blood and all the crimes that are based on your religion, even if you don’t support them . . . . If you’re a feminist, if you’re for liberation, then be brave [enough] to say that we are against that and take off your scarf until the moment that your scarf will not be a symbol of crime.” Inna Shevchenko from Topless Jihad: Why Femen Is Right – The Atlantic May, 1 2013
“Margaret Thatcher: Good Riddance” – John M. Becker
Today Margaret Thatcher died. It inspired various memories of her political career and life, including blogger John M. Betcher who laid on the hate. He then went on to write:
“I’m sorry, but I can’t join in the gushing praise being heaped upon Margaret Thatcher today. While I feel sympathy for her grieving family and I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death, I’m rather sickened by all the revisionist history I’m seeing.” – John M. Becker
Becker’s shouting out ”Good Riddance” and then writing “I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death” is the epitome of disingenuous. And there’s more.
“I agree she did more damage to the peoples (sic) community spirit than Hitler,” dee “ignorant cow” sweetland (first comment posted on Becker’s site)
No matter how horrid a person you may think Thatcher, attacks by John and “dee” reveal the class of the writer/attacker. As a reflexively critical left-leaning independent, I question verbal stones thrown at the right. Such pabulum convinces no one and damages the image of the left. To hold negative opinions about Thatcher is one thing, to rejoice and remind the world what a scumwhore she was on the day she dies is another. What Becker and “dee” did make the left look as sick, twisted, and belligerent as the right.
Why not convince and engage the opposition instead of belittling them? As to the Hitler analogy, the author caters to his crowd. Rush Limbaugh’s loyal followers reflect his ideas. Intellectual demagoguery reflects the demagogue.
“Everything I have ever said about Islam refers to the content and consequences of its doctrine. And, again, I have always emphasized that its primary victims are innocent Muslims–especially women and girls.” – Sam Harris
Recently The Guardian (Glenn Greenwald), Al Jazeera (Murtaza Hussain), and Salon (Nathan Lean) attacked Sam Harris and other “New Atheists,” Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, accusing them of racism and Islamophobia. These accusations are significant, and led to a back and forth between Harris and Greenwald. Compare above and below, and notice Greenwald’s Kobe-Bryantesque misuse of “honest”:
“Sam – To be honest, I really don’t see how that full quote changes anything. You are indeed saying – for whatever reasons – that the fascists are the ones speaknig (sic) most sensibly about Islam, which is all that column claimed.” – Glenn Greenwald
Indeed? Indeed. I question the skewered semantics that make Harris a supporter of ”fascists.”
Meanwhile, Nathan Lean at Salon chastises Dawkins for Tweeting: “…(a Muslim woman’s) testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.” But Dawkins draws directly from the Koran.
“If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.” – Deuteronomy 22:20-21
Arguments? Greenwald, Hussain, Lean and ilk imply equivalency between Islam and Christianity because both encourage atrocities such as slavery and honor killing. Sure. Still, according to UN Women over 91% of world wide honor crimes are within Muslim societies (the rest are attributed to Hindus, Coptics, etc.). That’s a huge discrepancy.
These three should spend more time reading, say, Rana Husseini, Irshad Manji, Mukhtar Mai, Zana Muhsen, Nawal El Saadawi, and other Muslim women as they document accounts of forced child marriage or honor crimes. Though these women point out the value of Islam, they basically align themselves with Harris regarding the horrible treatment of women justified by fundamentalists. Go ahead, accuse them of Islamophobia.
“All profoundly original work looks ugly at first.” – Clement Greenberg
“All ugly work looks ugly at first.” – Anonymous
“Frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting.” – Tom Wolfe
The surrounding lines and colored quadrangles are “works” by Piet Mondrian. They speak.
“The notion that the public accepts or rejects anything in modern art … is merely romantic fiction….The game is completed and the trophies distributed long before the public knows what has happened.” – Tom Wolfe
Observe the descent or rise of art from Modernists to Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art to Op Art to Minimalism. Take Neo-Plasticism, originating 100 years ago, Mondrian, and the De Stijl art movement. Then Pollock, Rothko, Frankenthaler et al, competent but not good enough, they explored other directions. Their ilk repeats versions of the same with “individual” flourishes, moving art, supposedly, as the elite collect and promote. The debate is whether this advances society. Tom Wolfe , to paraphrase from The Painted Word, noted that 400 art critics suffice to create enough steam for an artist to become absolutely rich, but for the literary artist, no matter how beautiful the written word, without mass appreciation there is little hope for financial success.
“But nobody is visually naïve any longer. We are cluttered with images, and only abstract art can bring us to the threshold of the divine.”― Dominique De Menil, The Rothko Chapel: Writings on Art and the Threshold of the Divine