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PRINT January 1996

SOLITARY REFINEMENT: MARILYN MINTER’S “CORAL RIDGE TOWERS”

THE HISTORY OF SOLITUDE will never be fully written. Solitude’s practitioners all pursue anonymity, but the greatest ones thwart intercourse of any sort. In an American culture maniacally fixated on coupling, they vanish like smoke. Accusations of masturbator or freak stick to anyone who actually finds pleasure a solitary occupation, but when such pleasure is combined with a love of illicit substances—cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, booze—its asocial not-niceness should be taken as a lesson in self-reliance. Marilyn Minter’s mother, Honora Elizabeth Laskey Minter, called “Mom,” spent a good deal of her life practicing the lost arts of eyebrow dyeing, smoking in bed, and lolling about alone. The somewhat agoraphobic sprawl of her life in “Coral Ridge Towers” (all works 1969/1995) can be seen as a continuation of a lineage of contrariness and repose that includes Emily Dickinson (consider, for

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