A funny thing happened on the way to Etel Adnan's exhibit
My six-year-old daughter, Georgia, and I arrived in San Francisco for a vacation last Wednesday night. I told her we were going to go to SFMOMA to look at the Etel Adnan paintings the next day and that we should go to City Lights before that, so we could get one of Adnan’s books. Maybe we would want to read it while we looked at her paintings.
When we got to the show, Georgia thought the paintings were boring and picked out her favorite one. When we got to the show, I thought the show was small and picked out my favorite one.
I thought, I wonder if I can write about how anything Etel Adnan painted or wrote was funny.
In the Heart of The Heart of Another Country isn’t particularly funny and that is the book we bought at City Lights.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to Adnan’s exhibit. The show began with a plaque that read:
Oil on canvas
Boring. Small. Very funny.
Is anything possible, I thought.
In her book, In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country, Adnan uses the headings and format of William Gass’s book of short stories In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. Adnan wrote, in her book’s introduction from Lebanon and to (in her mind) William Gass:
I thought along these lines: So you are in America, and I am here; you may think that you’re in trouble, or that there’s trouble in your country, but come here and see for yourself the mire into which we’re sinking. Just look. 
She first picked up his book at City Lights in 1971. There was much unrest, and escalating violence in Lebanon in 1971.
Is anything possible, I thought.
In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country begins with a chapter called “In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country.” The second chapter is called “Twenty-Five Years Later” and takes the headings and form of the first chapter, recalling it and updating it, in a way. Her subsequent chapters also take up the headings and form of the first chapter which is also the form of Gass’s book.
Adnan’s chapter “Twenty-Five Years Later,” written twenty-five years after the first, is remarkably funny.
Naming your book In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country after a book named In the Heart of the Heart of the Country is a lot like having one plaque that says “Untitled, 2018, Oil on canvas” describe twelve to fourteen of your paintings that are hanging in a world famous musuem.
When I try to mimic In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country, this is what I get:
Do you ever start dating someone and think how wonderful it is to be able to be nice to someone? To pat their head when they rest it in your lap? What a relief.
How we both (Fuzzy and I) want Fuzzy’s grandson to be in L’s class, as unlikely as that is. But how likely it is that Fuzzy doesn’t have a grandson. And how likely it is that Fuzzy’s high on meth. And how truly likely it is that Fuzzy is doing a shitty impression of Axel Rose. And yet, the grace of coincidence is nearly in our arms.
I hope I do not have to mimic Adnan’s “Twenty-Five Years Later,” though, because I currently dislike Fuzzy after our meeting for reasons I will not go into. But I suppose in twenty-five years I will have a different outlook because twenty-five years ago I liked jam bands.
So, in this way, it doesn’t matter who I dislike, does it? Because the world bulldozes you with its own meanings and plans until you are barely, but still, squeeking Small! Boring! from your flattened larnyx. And I knew that — I fucking already knew that — even as I wrote, guiltily and impossibly: I currently dislike Fuzzy.