Paul Thek: Notebooks

Thek [was] an avid keeper of journals, producing over a hundred between 1969 and 1980. Complex and varied, the journals form an intimate and often intense portrait of an energetic mind. Most are written in ordinary school notebooks, with routine accounts of Thek’s days punctuated by emotionally raw passages of self-reflection, analysis of his closest (and, at times, most troubled) personal relationships, and as time progressed, evidence of a growing paranoia. In perfect script, he copied page after page of writings that he admired by Saint Augustine, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, William Blake, and others. Copying was clearly a meditation for him, a spiritual exercise and, as such, an antidote to anxiety and to what he knew was his own pettiness and anger. But the journals are full of moments of joyful exuberance and artistic bravura as well: celebrations of sex, silly word games, and a range of visual expression, from simple marks and comic sketches to intimate, exquisite watercolors of the sea.”

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