Wayne Koestenbaum: The Desire to Write

August 22, 2011  |  By
Filed under: Essay

Pablo Picasso, _Boy Leading a Horse_, 1905–6

The Desire to Write about Boy Leading a Horse

The desire to write about Picasso’s Boy Leading a Horse is accompanied by — and nearly drowned by — a contrary desire: the desire not to write about Boy Leading a Horse. This entropic tendency, the desire not to write about Boy Leading a Horse, a desire I’m afraid to encourage, itself depends on a desire even more obscure — the desire to be the boy leading a horse, or to be that boy’s companion, his mirror image, his compatriot in the art of being nude. His feet grip the ground with a firmness equaling the firm black outlines surrounding boy and horse. These outlines, meaty and obtuse, give more satisfaction than any emotion we might attribute to the boy, a troubled cipher; the emphatic outlines, as if carved in wood, speak of the artist’s pleasure. I want the pleasure of the line-making hand more than I want the pleasure experienced by the boy leading a horse, or the pleasure of trying to approach that nude boy with these emphatic yet nebulous words.

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