Stories, Musings & The Vision Thing

Tag: The Morgan Library

In the Company of Animals

All photos by Graham Haber for The Morgan Library

My son Ben is creating videos for The Morgan Library exhibit In the Company of Animals on how animals can inspire the creative process and I wanted to write about his approach.  You can see the video featuring Emma Straub on Youtube here.   

This is basically an A Capella piece; all you hear is Emma Straub’s voice.  It was recorded very close to the microphone, so it has a very intimate quality.  The effect is that you feel like it’s just the two of you and she’s telling you her secrets. It makes her very present and, in a quiet way, it draws you in.  

And of course the voice is edited, but you can’t tell — the spacing of the words and movement of the story just flows along.  Graham, the photographer, did a wonderful job capturing the interactions between Emma and her cats.  You can see that Emma knows you’re there watching, but it’s more like she’s letting you in on the joke, sharing her space and her pets with you.  Which also makes the piece so effective. 

You can she how intertwined she is with her two cats.  All of which helps you understand how she practices her art, and her writing, in the company of animals.

Of Pirates, Poets and Mysteries of the Heart

Photo from The Morgan Website

When I was younger I tried my hand at keeping a diary but just couldn’t maintain it very long. Too many distractions.  And most of my diary days were just not that interesting.  But for some, a diary can be a good friend, a confession booth, a way to make amends, get even or set the record straight.  And before the myriad electronic interventions that so complicate our lives, recording one’s take on the thoughts/events of the day was more meaningful.  And more rewarding.  

Some fascinating diaries are now on view at The Morgan Library in NYC. The Morgan calls it The Diary:  Three Centuries of Private Lives.   Here’s their take on it:  For centuries, people have turned to diaries to mark time, sort out creative problems, help them through crises, comfort them in solitude or pain, or capture memories for the future. Today, as we find new ways to document our unfolding lives—in blogs, online diaries, and social networks—this exhibition looks back over several centuries to explore the enduring drive to leave a trace of our passing days.  
And thanks to the imagination and creativity of The Morgan’s web team you can access highlights of the exhibit online.  There’s an engaging web page with audio guide that sets the stage for each diary on view.  And a podcast series with an actor reading selections from each diary.  It’s quite an experience as you listen to the thoughts and key moments from the lives of writers like Charlotte Bronte, Sir Walter Scott, Walt Whitman or the scourge of the Spanish Main, British pirate Bartholomew Sharpe, among others.  

From The Morgan Website

If you go to the Diary Podcast, you’ll find a fascinating account of the pirate’s exploits, as read by actor Paul Hecht.  Sharpe has an eye for details and his words make you feel like you’re right there, marching alongside him and his band of cutthroats as they burn and pillage their way to Panama.

I haven’t sampled the other diary excerpts yet, but they’ll be posted on the Morgan’s site throughout the length of the exhibit.  And one more thing.  My son, Ben directed and produced the audio guide and podcasts for The Morgan.  Not only do they help make the diaries more accessible, they give new life to all those words written so long ago.