Fragments on the Myth of Cy Twombly

By | 4 May 2023

after Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus (1962)

There’s no myth yet
about his birth, except
Lexington is a military town.
Later: chariots, battles.

His father was a White Sox pitcher. His father was an Italian ceramicist.

Drafted into the army, on leave in a motel room; drawing in the dark to cast a fog over skill, technique. Discharged for anxiety. At Black Mountain College swift-footed RAUSCHENBERG tried to drown in Lake Eden. Gentle TWOMBLY called his lover back to the shore. RAUSCHENBERG in the black their clear affection & the clear genius of (t)his lad almost crossed him out.

Once in the eternal city he photographed you five times, headless on the basilica stairs. Now they’re displayed in reverse; you enter from above more workshirt, more bluejeans, more buttonfly. As though you’re approaching when in fact you stepped back.

If we begin with the sketchbook study he’s a red ballpoint capillary dreaming crossed-out PATROCLUS.

But on the yawning canvas he’s a displaced sea anemone unmade by carmine grief.

reaching one tendril down to palm the sand one tendril up to touch what’s coming next

PATROCLUS was ACHILLES’S ‘closest companion’.

Since AESCHYLUS we have argued over the fruit/less question: (our interest fresh as wet paint) were ACHILLES and PATROCLUS in love?

Who played the part of the lover? Who played the beloved?

Or did a switch hitter step up to plate?

Beneath the text ACHILLES and PATROCLUS fuck like deathless horses.
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