The paradox of being hard yet soft: Tennessee Williams

In l942, Tennessee Williams, living in Greenwich Village, down to his last ten dollars, at work on a fragment of a play called The Paper Lantern, about a woman named Blanche, living on a plantation called Belle Reve…began to recover the vision he long had lost in his left eye.

In his diary, on the 25th of February, he mulled this over:

What a world! 
Why see it, darling?
Yeah, but I want to, though.
I must be able to be a post-war artist.
Keep awake — Alive — New.
Perform the paradox of being hard and yet soft.
Survive without calcification of the tender membranes.

Be a poet. Be alive.  

The great Russian film director Tarkovsky, most famous for Solaris, similarly mulled this paradox: 

When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win."
— Andrei Tarkovsky

Those tender membranes…upon which sight itself depends. Here's one of Tarkovsky's personal Polaroids.

Like Williams, his is one of those talents easier to recognize than to explain: 


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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