Harry Smith / New York

Genius In The Village: Tennessee Williams On Harry Smith


“The world is far more fulsome if you imagine it to be full of churches that can fill your mind and your heart. One goes to mass; one says the rosary. One goes to help those who most need it. One consumes those things–liquid or smoke or powder–that allow one to walk among the world calm and receptive. One sits–as I have–in cinemas, happy and stoned, and allows images to invade the mind and push its contours farther and farther back. That used to be a fine way to spend an afternoon. Harry Smith, Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage. Smoke in the air, candy wrappers on the floor, Anais Nin in the lobby, proclaiming genius in the Village. Churches everywhere.” Tennessee Williams to James Grissom, 1982

James Grissom’s book, Artistic Suicide, a compilation of interviews with Tennessee Williams, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Martha Graham and others, will be published by Knopf in 2014.

Strange but true:

Q: What did Tennessee Williams and Harry Smith talk about during their first conversation?

A: Theosophy, according to Williams.

Thanks, and a tip of the hat to James Grissom!


Harry Smith was born in Portland, Oregon on May 29, 1923 to two Theosophists, Robert James Smith and Mary Louise Hammond Smith.

On May 16,  at 3:00 PM at the Hollywood Theatre, Oregon Cartoon Institute presents Harry Smith In Pacific Northwest, a panel discussion examining the regional influences which shaped young Harry Smith’s life.  The panel discussion features Michael Munk, Gus Frederick and Rich Wandschneider.

Harry Smith In Pacific Northwest is free and open to the public.


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