[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 99, Issue 3

Antoinette LaFarge alafarge at uci.edu
Thu Feb 7 04:46:13 EST 2013

>> She was extremely efficient in how she planned her work and
>> life. She had to be. I, on the other hand, tend to start things with a fuzzy
>> notion, meandering here and there, trying to tell a story along the way or
>> after the fact about what I've done and the motivation behind it. Shani
>> tended toward the opposite. I can still hear her asking "how can you not
>> know what you're doing before you do it?"

I know I was very much aware, as people have been pointing out here, that Shani lived for her work, and (as Christiane said), probably lived longer because of her commitment to research. And I find what you write here, Robert, particularly interesting because of the two major types of artist—those who know from the outset where they are going, and those who have to explore to find it out—I never really thought about which kind she was (or you for that matter). It makes sense, in retrospect, that she was clear-sighted in this way. There are great artists of both kinds, as Malcolm Gladwell argues in his piece about late bloomers—although some of the distinctions he makes in that essay don't really hold up—and it's a commonplace in literature, for example, for one kind of author to say, 'I had to write the book to find out how it was going to turn out.'  Like Robert, I am in the explorers camp, and I have always envied artists who knew exactly what they were doing. It's curious how much of one's life is marked by these futile wishings-for the things one is not: more (or less) energy, need for sleep, charisma, lucidity, extroversion, introversion… whatever it is for the individual. I wonder what Shani wished she had that she didn't? (Apart from more time, the need for which must have hung over her like a sword.)  Perhaps it was one of her gifts not to think that way? 

>> unnecessary repetition,
>> sentimentality that hindered forward movement, complimenting for the sake of
>> being liked or appearing nice, these things she had very little patience
>> for.

This is one of the things I liked her most for. She did like to gossip, but she didn't bother much with small talk. Such a relief.


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