60 I Send a Letter

Dear Mike: Well, I've been to two cities, but one was the biggie: New York. Some great interviews and experiences. What a treat to be in a room full of Hoppers after preparing for the trip by studying his works only as reproductions in books or online. I got into his studio! I am not religious, but I occasionally feel in certain places of power that I am surrounded by "beings" ("energies?"). I felt it often in Ireland, my ancestors' land. Well, I felt it in Hopper's studio alright. If Hopper wasn't there, at least his stuff still was: the oven and frig looked like they hadn't been touched since Jo's death. And she seemed to be there, too, inhabiting the body of this academic bulldog who kicked me out before I could see everything I wanted.

I tried to find the place used as a model for Nighthawks and saw only one building on Greenwich with the proper configuration (most likely the original is torn down). The owner was annoyed with me for asking but said he knew the place and his wasn't it. Isn't it just like a New Yorker to know the answer to an esoteric question, but be so provincial as to be upset by an unfamiliar face in his restaurant?

Oh I almost forgot. I got let backstage in MOMA. They took me with them to see some Odilon Redons they were packing to send to a show. It was great to admire art with other art lovers. Not just lovers but experts! I am becoming an expert in Hopper, but also adding a lot to what I already have studied about art history and a ton of other subjects. By the end of this I should be handed an honorary PhD for my dissertation on Hopper and isolation. The problem is which department would grant it to me. Art History? Sociology? History? Cultural Studies? Creative Writing? Oh, well. After hearing of all my interests, this foreign doctor at work called me a "generalist," and I've been flattered ever since to think of myself as the "last great generalist."

I just came from a meeting with a woman and her sister who I met at Hopper's birthplace, and her husband graduated from Northwestern, like I did. The project is opening doors. Let's hope I'm not suffering beginner's luck!


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