Celestial Timepiece is intended to be a resource for students, scholars, and fans of Joyce Carol Oates's work. Begun in August of 1995 as a project to learn HTML, the site has since grown tremendously, offering a surface reflection of JCO's own deep literary project. A goal is to provide a free exchange of information, and to encourage discussion and scholarship among JCO's admirers around the world.
"...up close it resembled a crazy quilt..."
In constructing this site, I have had the good fortune to encounter a number of generous individuals who have provided valuable information, assistance, and encouragement. Notable among these are the world-wide members of the JCO discussion group Tone Clusters; Kathleen Manwaring, keeper of the JCO Archive at the Syracuse University Library; and most particularly, Greg Johnson, author, critic, and biographer of JCO.
Joyce Carol Oates herself has been astoundingly generous in allowing me to use her material on this web site; and though it is my own personal project, it has nonetheless become the de facto official JCO web site.
JCO has written a poem called "Celestial Timepiece," but this site actually took its name from a passage in her Gothic masterpiece, Bellefleur:
Celestial Timepiece was the largest quilt, but Matilde was sewing it for herself—it wasn't to be sold: up close it resembled a crazy quilt because it was asymmetrical, with squares that contrasted not only in color and design but in texture as well. "Feel this square, now feel this one," Matilde said softly, taking Germaine's hand, "and now this one—do you see? Close your eyes." Coarse wool, fine wool, satins, laces, burlap, cotton, silk, brocade, hemp, tiny pleats. Germaine shut her eyes tight and touched the squares, seeing them with her fingertips, reading them. Do you understand? Matilde asked.
Noel complained that Celestial Timepiece made his eye jump. You had to stand far back to see its design, and even then it was too complicated—it gave him a headache. "Why don't you just sew some nice little satin comforter," he said. "Something small, something pretty."
"I do what I am doing," Matilde said curtly.
See a visual history of Celestial Timepiece.
I am a reference librarian at the University of San Francisco.