Robert Rauschenberg’s exuberant, quiet, sloppy, painstaking, organic, sensual, spiritual Combines entered my life during my now-somewhat-infamous days living in the East Village in New York. They perfectly captured and enhanced the major alchemical powers I needed to (barely) get through those challenging years. Shamanic totems, they channeled me through simplicity in the midst of sophistication. I have gotten a visceral charge of joy and power from my encounters with them ever since—most recently in 2005, touring the Met’s retrospective of the Combines in the company of Charles Altieri, delightful friend and brilliant literary critic.
The letter above is posted by way of thanks to Rauschenberg—and as a reminder that I aim to “not feel shame in my joy nor regret or fright in history.”