Even when

Louise Bourgeois: Self Portrait, 2007
there’s plenty wrong, there’s still plenty of the other, too. It just gets crowded out, like blue sky by rain. No need to blow sunshine, just a little pushback – like this digression on the graphic sensibility of Louise Bourgeois:

Born in Paris in 1911, Bourgeois suffered more than the usual number of grievous blows to the psyche, and her inner life stayed tightly wrapped around their memory. War, illness, sexual jealousy, mental instability were all things she witnessed in her first decade, and she never forgot—or forgave—any of them. As a teenager she learned that the attractive young Englishwoman who lived with the family as a tutor was also her father’s mistress, and this betrayal in particular was something she never got over. In addition, or perhaps in response, her mother was fragile and often ill, and young Louise became her companion at various spas and treatment centers; she was released from her caretaker role by her mother’s death when she was twenty-one.
After the loss of her mother, and encouraged by her charming and tyrannical father, Bourgeois started a small business selling works on paper, prints, and illustrated books out of a corner of the family’s tapestry workshop on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. To acquire her stock, she scoured the auction houses and book dealers, and she seems to have absorbed, almost overnight, the dominant graphic styles of the day. She had a particular affinity for Bonnard and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as other artists who used the illustrated book form, which was then in vogue. Something about these livres d’artiste, as they were known—the way they combined text and pictures, and the way the image was printed from engraving or etching plates, the whole satisfying feel in the hand of beautifully made paper embossed with rectangles of finely drawn tones of gray—formed the template for how Bourgeois would think about her own art, on and off, for the rest of her life.

Have a template for how you think what matters most to you. Seems like all the advice anyone might need.

Image: Louise Borgeois: Self Portrait, 2007. MOMA


This might be overstating things.

LONDON—Installing wind turbines and solar panels in people’s homes is “eco-bling” that will not help meet Britain’s targets on cutting carbon emissions, engineers warned Wednesday.

In a new report by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), Professor Doug King said it was better to adapt buildings to make them more energy efficient than try to offset energy use with “on-site renewable energy generation.”

The leader of Britain’s main opposition Conservative party, David Cameron, is among those who have installed wind turbines, fixing one onto the roof of his home in the plush west London district of Notting Hill.

“Eco-bling is a term I coined to describe unnecessary renewable energy visibly attached to the outside of poorly designed buildings,” King told the Daily Mail newspaper ahead of the report’s publication.

If we want to talk about little or nothing, there are a lot of places to start – and not all of them small bore. Energy efficiency, gas tax hiking, rail infrastructure. But individuals buying the means to capture wind energy for use on inefficient buildings… eh, I have trouble getting worked up about that. And here’s why.

I was working construction a few years ago… okay, up until about ten years ago. But anyway, I worked on an historic renovation project that took years, literally; we learned a lot, used some interesting materials, had a good time and eventually completed the house – all very reminiscent of my writing at the time. Near the end of the project, there were installed some PV-cell solar panels on the roof, three or four massive panels that were enough to power a small freezer in which you could, I think, fit an already-frozen pizza. And maybe some popsicles.

It was silly, in its way, and not unlike some those gigantic satellite dishes scattered and rusting in yards across America. We/they just didn’t have the technology right yet. And now, we/they know much more about satellite TV technology and we have tiny dishes that fit under your cornice and pick up 582 channels. Those albatrosses were the precursors to something better, more effective, cheaper and more useful.

(Unlike the highly pretentious display windmills at issue, the big PV panels I mentioned were on the back of the house. No one could have seen them from the street; they were an honest attempt at renewable energy.) There will always be a penalty for ostentatious displays of hipness, youth, technical prowess and especially green-ness. Let that penalty be money and let it flow downhill to fund research for the Direct TVs of wind power. Then we can laugh about those rusting windmills in the backyards of houses and how those hippies yuppies protested too much anyway.