RIMBAUD Month with Patti Smith
I was a teenager in the 1960s. I was born in 1950, so right on time in 1965 to explode with my generation and the times, calling out the bullshit (the same bullshit that has multiplied and exists still today).
At this time, I picked up a copy of A Season in Hell, by Arthur Rimbaud. I inhaled that book, along with Illuminations - the same copy I still have today, which is well read and dog-eared. Along with Bob Dylan, and Catcher in the Rye I was primed to become one of the rebels of my generation.
This month is Rimbaud Month, as Patti has coined it. Which means, she is illuminating us with tremendous research she’s done, on the life of Arthur Rimbaud. It is an adventure. She’s just started it, so you have plenty of time to catch up.
I’m enthralled. YOU will be too. Patti is just a gift beyond everything you already know about her… she is devoted to literature - she is so inspiring. She reminds me of my mother, who is also a great books reader and a book lover - and to Eric, who has never been without a book for as long as I’ve known him. And to me, who has grown up learning to place books and writing high up in the world of art. Anyway, I diverge. This post is really to inspire you to subscribe to Patti.
The information Patti gives us about the lives of Rimbaud’s sisters and his mother is a good example of how come in my own teen years it was the men who we all were exposed to - not only in literature, and music, but in life in general. Sexism, which has gone wild in our current times through the horrific attitudes and laws today towards any divergency from what we have been taught is norm, can be understood clearly by the way these women lived.
We’ve come a long long way as girls and women in Western culture - but still fighting for our rights as human beings. Let’s not go into this side of the story at this point since this is about my recommendation of Patti Smith’s month of teaching us about the life and work of Rimbaud. But before ending here is something about Vitalie Rimbaud, according to https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Vitalie_Rimbaud
Marie Catherine Vitalie Rimbaud, née Cuif, was better known simply as Vitalie Rimbaud, and was the mother of the visionary poet Arthur Rimbaud. She was born on 10 March 1825 and died on 16 November 1907. She met Captain Frédéric Rimbaud (1814–1878), a French infantry officer, in October 1852 and married him the following February. They had five children:
Nicolas Frédéric ("Frédéric"), born 2 November 1853
Jean Nicolas Arthur ("Arthur"), born 20 October 1854
Victorine Pauline Vitalie, born 4 June 1857 (she died a few weeks later)
Jeanne Rosalie Vitalie ("Vitalie"), born 15 June 1858
Frédérique Marie Isabelle ("Isabelle"), born 1 June 1860.
Though the marriage lasted seven years, her husband lived continuously in the matrimonial home for less than three months, from February to May 1853. The rest of the time Captain Rimbaud's military postings – including service in the Crimean War and the Sardinian Campaign – meant he returned home to Charleville only when on leave. He was not at home for his children's births, nor their baptisms. After Isabelle's birth in 1860, Captain Rimbaud never returned to the family home. After their separation, Mme, Rimbaud called herself "Widow Rimbaud".
You can catch up easily by becoming a subscriber (I believe this is also free, but you can be a paid subscriber or be a free subscriber) Go to Pattismith.substack.com
Here are only some of the books I have loved since my own youth. And happy b day today June 3 to Alan Ginsberg.
And oh, of course, The Family of Man was pivotal to my photography life. Imagine my joy when I found Henri Cartier-Bresson’s phone number in the phone private book in the offices of Rencontres Internationale de la Photographie when I was showing there and got him on the phone. This was the man who inspired me the most as a photographer. I called him twice on that number. Once from a phone booth. Both times, I was unable to go visit him in person. He promised me he would not die before I was able to visit him - but he did. After our 2nd phone call, I wrote him from the US and he sent me this, plus a note. I am humbled by the fact that even though I never got to see his face in person, I have his fingerprint.
Cartier-Bresson, first and foremost plus Jacques Henri Lartique,
and Édouard Boubat, who I visited in his apartment in Paris in 1981 (photo to come in a different post later)
and Robert Doisneau, Brassaï, Dorothea Lange, and so many others were my visual influences in photography when I was starting out. Mine was a conscious decision to give myself a didactic education as a teenager, quitting high school in my last 5 weeks of 12th grade, eschewing a formal training in photography that I feared would twist me up into some kind of commercial photographer that I didn’t want to be. I finally succumbed happily and excitedly to a formal college and later art education when I moved to France at 20 after the Cocker Tour, and remained until I was 25. But all that for another post, another time.
For now, just go to Patti’s substack and enjoy a tremendous education by one of our greatest humans on the planet today.
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