Monthly Archives: January 2015
When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity –in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. For relationships, too, must be like islands. One must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides. One must accept the security of the winged life, of ebb and flow, of intermittency.
I’m getting some practice in this weekend. I’ve written a few in the past and I can’t say I enjoy it especially. The first one I ever remember writing was pre-millenia to get funding for a van. We got the van. Maybe there wasn’t much competition.
Since then I’ve written three more, two successful and one not. I also drafted one over the Christmas holiday, and then decided not to submit it for reasons to do with capacity and financial projections.
I have a sneaking hunch that with a 75% strike rate so far, there’s only one way to go – down. On the other hand, maybe I should take some confidence from the positive stats and get on with this one.
What a boring post that was! Still, the van was maroon and pretty snazzy, and the driver, Phil, was made up as I recall. Whatever happens with this one, I got the van. That’s a life lesson I suppose, some of our experience is in the bank and no-one (not even subsequent failure) can touch those deposits.
I have a long-standing habit of listening to spoken word at bedtime. I suppose I can roundly blame my mother for this, as she was a dedicated 1970s bedtime story reader. (It is fashionable to lump everything on upbringing these days, but hopefully for not too much longer as we finally consent to grow up as a generation and take responsibility for ourselves. In the meantime, I also blame Philip Larkin for pointing it out.)
Furthermore, I can blame my poor mother for an association my tired brain makes which is spoken word + head on pillow + close eyes = fall asleep in short order. It is, you understand, the spoken word that is the guaranteed soporific. Oftentimes, I try to close eyes + head on pillow and all that = is dancing thoughts leaping and pirouetting in my brain and keeping me awake.
My mother read me fiction, not the newspaper, so once I was older I replaced her with Charles Dickens. Not the actual Charles Dickens sitting on the bed, but an actor’s voice reading Dickens’ words – Great Expectations on audio. As I would fall asleep in short order it took years to hear the whole thing all the way through, albeit completely out of sequence. Then I broke my tape recorder and moved onto the radio – Radio 4, the World Tonight with Robin Lustig to be precise. The thing was, that the news would quite often rev me up, rather than wind me down, and after many, many years of this habit, I knocked it on the head as a bad job on many counts.
I moved on to Melvyn Bragg and the In Our Time podcasts, which are actually too long at three quarters of an hour for a bedtime story. The earpiece I wear to avoid broadcasting the show around the house (I am a little deaf) gets uncomfortable, so I don’t drop off into a deep sleep, rather I snooze uneasily and fitfully as Melvyn bustles his guests along, snapping at their heels all the while.
Which is a very lengthy preamble to say that now I listen to a rather excellent set of *podcasts by Philosophy Bites which is where I came across the philosopher Lucy Allais’ rather interesting interview on forgiveness.
Which I will say more about tomorrow, and illustrate with a song.
I know. You can’t wait.
*at about 15 – 20 minutes the perfect length for bedtime, and sufficiently engaging to nod off to. When the subject matter is intellectually taxing (that’s you Daniel Dennett) I simply employ the method I used as a child when my mother read certain sections of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and become immediately comatose.
I must see this film (National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman) for all sorts of reasons.
When human endeavour sometimes seems to me to be directed in all the wrong sort of places, art acts as a balm to the soul, an electric jolt to the eye, petrol thrown onto the flame of intellect. You can mix those metaphors too and they work just as well: balm to the eye, petrol on the flame of the soul – whatever way you mix it – art makes you feel.
Way back when I moved to London, I spent many hours at the National Gallery. Certain paintings became friends. They still are. I don’t call them, or write them, or send them gifts, but they are fixed in my heart.
Maybe that’s why I once I dreamed of a long conversation in an art gallery. I half-started it once and it may have been the most important almost conversation of my life. I have some slight hope that this film may be the final word on the matter, and then I can wake up.
On the other hand, it may just be a nightmare, if the Guardian review is to be believed.
God it’s boring. I love the National Gallery and I was squirming in my seat. Why doesn’t Wiseman let the paintings speak for themselves? Again and again, he films audiences listening to curators or guides give lectures about the National Gallery’s works of art. One such talk would make sense in a portrait of the museum. But why repeat the exercise, again and again – and again?
Time Out critic’s conclusion ‘The film’s bold, brilliant climax’ sounds better to me.
I didn’t want to write a post about Charlie Hebdo, and the carnage that has ensued in Paris since Wednesday 7th January.
I didn’t want to write a post about the 37 people, mainly those waiting to enrol at a police academy, that were killed the same day in Yemen by a suicide bomber.
I didn’t want to write a post about a whole town called Baga, and surrounding areas, that were burned to the ground on the same day by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
I didn’t want to type that bodies were strewn all over the ground in Baga, with the loss of life estimated in the hundreds and thousands of refugees from the town crossing the border into the neighbouring country of Chad.
I didn’t want to read that according to some news outlets last year Boko Haram killed around 10,000 people in Nigeria.
I didn’t want to paraphrase the philosopher Immanuel Kant who said that all humans, and rational beings, were ends in themselves.
I didn’t want to ask the media why the weight of human lives lost in one part of the world are of far more interest than those lost in another.
I didn’t want one single life to be lost in the name of anyone, or anything.
But I wanted to bear witness to all the dead of the media, the dead in the media, and the dead ignored by the media this week. The tragic victims of terrorism in France, Yemen and Nigeria. And also to the 8 separate people killed in London, in the first week of the new year. Today an 18 year old in Marylebone, and as the dreadful Wednesday 7th January 2015 closed out, with so many lives lost already, a 17 year old called Jeremie Malenge lay dying in the street in Homerton.
All lives lost, and for nothing that I can see, feel, touch, hear or speak to.
And yet, as I type, I know the numbers rise. And all I am doing is holding my breath… Holding my breath…