DADA zine at the V&A
Dora Wheeler Keith (American; 1856–1940)
Penelope Unraveling Her Work at Night
Silk embroidered with silk thread, 1886
Embroidered panel made for Associated Artists (1883–1907)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Thus she: at once the generous train complies,
Nor fraud mistrusts in virtue’s fair disguise.
The work she plied; but, studious of delay,
By night reversed the labours of the day.
While thrice the sun his annual journey made,
The conscious lamp the midnight fraud survey’d;
Unheard, unseen, three years her arts prevail;
The fourth her maid unfolds the amazing tale.
We saw, as unperceived we took our stand,
The backward labours of her faithless hand.
Then urged, she perfects her illustrious toils;
A wondrous monument of female wiles!
Odyssey, Book II (translated by Alexander Pope)
Now that’s neat.
A writer or any artist can’t expect to be embraced by the people. I’ve done records where it seemed like no one listened to them. You write poetry books that maybe 50 people read. And you just keep doing your work because you have to, because it’s your calling.
But it’s beautiful to be embraced by the people.
Some people have said to me, “Well, don’t you think that kind of success spoils one as an artist? If you’re a punk rocker, you don’t want to have a hit record…”
And I say to them, “Fuck you!”
One does their work for the people. And the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is. You don’t do your work and say, “I only want the cool people to read it.” You want everyone to be transported, or hopefully inspired by it.
When I was really young, William Burroughs told me, “Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises. Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work. And make the right choices and protect your work. And if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.”
So, so good.