Happy Friday, Reader. Today’s roundup will be brief-ish (I am not so very good at brief, but brief-ish I can sometimes manage), for there is Another Half-Day of school.
Last week (the week before last?) I posted a photo of a book I was reading, Cartas Aspasionadas: The letters of Friday Kahlo. It is a cool little book whose package (and contents) holds evidence of past worlds; look:
The stamped due dates make me wildly happy.
Anyway, about Frida, a reader asked in the comments: was she fierce?
And I wanted to say, Yes, yes she was! But her letters reveal the art to be fiercer than the woman. Or like all of us perhaps, that she was fierce sometimes, not others.
She doubted the worth of her art, even while it was being acquired by the Louvre. And it seemed that a lot of her feelings of self-worth were dependent upon the status of her stormy relationship with Diego.
Of her painting, she wrote: “I think at least a few people are interested in it. It’s not revolutionary. Why keep wishing for it to be belligerent? I can’t.”
Of Diego: “I love you more than my own skin, and … even though you don’t love me as much, you love me a little anyway—don’t you? If this is not true, I’ll always be hopeful that it could be, and that’s enough for me… .”
And of the intersection of the two: “I’ve lost my best years being supported by a man, and doing nothing else but what I thought would benefit him.” (In fairness to Frida, she also supported Diego once or twice, bailing him out financially by selling her art).
Well, we are all flawed. And women were, for many generations, raised to find their worth in a man and/or a family, and not in their own work. I think that’s starting to change.
So, was she fierce? I think her art is fierce. I think she was fierce sometimes and not others. I think we should all be as fierce as possible in our art, our life’s work, and in our love for others and ourselves. I think we should be fierce about not letting any one of these elements of life devour any of the others.
What she was, though, that I did not know, was a poet. Here is a little poem she wrote in the guise of a letter:
Letter to a Girlfriend in France (probably Jaqueline Breton) by Frida Kahlo
Since you wrote me on that clear and distant day, I have been wanting to explain to you that I cannot leave those days behind or return timely to the other time. I haven’t forgotten you—the nights are long and difficult.
The water. The ship, the dock, and the departure that made you so small to my eyes, imprisoned in that round window, that you were looking at in order to keep me in your heart.
Everything is intact. Later, there came the days, new of you. Today, I would like my sun to touch you. I tell you that your daughter is my daughter, the puppets, set up in their large glass room, they belong to both of us.
The huipil with purple ribbons is yours. Mine are those old plazas of your Paris.
If that’s not a poem, I don’t know what is.
Here is what a huipil is.
All this thinking about fierceness reminds me of a quote from Isadora Duncan:
You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.
Let us all be fierce, wild, untamed, artists, lovers.