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What’s in your salad? December 21, 2010

Posted by janehaynes in : Atomies of love, Becoming... , 2comments


Copyright 2010 Cornelia Hartman

We didn’t make it to Paris so we are going to be eating salad instead. I adore this image which a client – who comes for professional development gave me permission to display – and has just sent to me as a metaphor for the conversations we have continued to have together for rather a long time. I also love Shakespeare’s metaphor about emotions being like a salad but I am not referring to Cleopatra’s ‘salad days’, I’m sure there was something more subtle about emotional combinations somewhere in A and C. I’ll have to keep on thinking and finding.  If I’m really stuck I can check out with Greg Hicks who has currently opened in the RSC season, which has transferred to the The Round House, in advance of going to New York, where he will be playing in ‘Lear’. His is a great and thoughtful Lear, it may not have the age of  the other current Lear but it does have great complexity and trickery. All traces of the mannerist Greg have been pared away, and who speaks better Shakespeare?  He is also the Soothsayer in Antony, and I had quite forgot, until I saw an excellent review in the papers today, that he has just opened in ‘The Winter’s Tale’ as Leontes. What a fistful, if not a salad bowl of emotions to juggle there. Surely, Leontes’ flayed and phantom immersions into those green eyed monsters of jealousy must have prodded at Proust in his immortal autopsy of what is possibly the most primal, when additionally linked not only with bodies but with territories, animal emotion.

The queues outside of St. Pancras Station looked as though they were for the ‘last train’. Undiluted chaos. At first I thought the people were queuing to see an exhibit at the British Library, at least two blocks away from the station, until I noticed that they were all carrying suitcases.

I know this won’t be popular but at the moment I’m finding Dorothea, who hasn’t yet departed for Rome, irritating and my sympathies are with Celia’s intuitive intelligence. I have also been castigated by ‘Prof’ for finding Norpois boring, and not understanding what Proust was doing. But, even though I knew that he was mimicking a salon style of parrot gratuity, and even though I think I knew that to some degree there was a conscious mimesis of Proust’s own syntax, taking place, I failed to ‘laugh out aloud’. Still, on the next reading I promise that I shall try to read more acutely.

I am also struck, watching my grandchildren’s turbulent and exquisitely painful experiences of ‘first love’ along with the liberties of adolescence, by what a terrifying business this encyclopedia of love is. What tremors, what annihilations, what sobbings of self do any other experience, except the challenge of death, throw into the insomnium of night. Or, is it all no more than ‘romance’: ” My lords if you would hear a high tale of  love and death…’?

My daughter tells me that I am naive; that it is because she understood all these scarred, or do I mean sacred, woundings of adolescent love, self-harming, body piercing and possession that she originally determined as a therapist, also to work with adolescence. Yes, love speaks with a warlike language, and all along the way, it twists, if not strangulates from desire to death, with passion. The God of Love is a blind archer, a magician of  projections, who only ever shoots fatal arrows, and his rites de passage seems to agony between one besieging and another.

Now that I cannot people watch in Paris, I don’t have any excuse not to meet the challenge of the contorted thoughts, digressions and arrogance of Denis de Rougement’s,’Love in the Western World’, whenever Dorothea exasperates me, and once I’ve found that Shakespearian metaphor of emotion…I’ve checked with the Concordance and it doesn’t exist. Must be another bard. I do like this:

‘Indeed, sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the salad, or rather, the herb of grace.’ Clown

Dan and Rose June 2010

Proust, Middlemarch and Mash December 19, 2010

Posted by janehaynes in : Atomies of love, Becoming..., dogs, Writing a book , add a comment

I’ve now spent two days reclining rather than declining on my bed, watching the snow fall and reading or re-reading ‘Middlemarch’. And worrying.
I worry about the birds, and the fact that I’ve recently learnt that they require fresh water to keep their plumage warm in this big freeze. I worry about my ferruginous dog Lucy and that at nine she is growing old and is troubled by low frequency sounds that are undetectable to me, which means that now she not only has a fly phobia but a DVD watching phobia. Rather, she starts to tremble whenever we turn our plasma on. I worry that I don’t have enough time to write this blog. I worry that the book that I am trying to co-author is not yet a book although I know it could be one. One of the things that I have discovered in researching for this book, which is an autopsy on doctors, or on one exceptionally distinguished one: ‘First Do No Harm: inside of the doctor’s head’ is that doctors are just as frightened of illness as me, and that most of them try to avoid, at almost any price, going to their doctor and all requests for testing, scanning, blood-letting and scoping. I worried, until I started writing this blog that I would never write another word.
I have reluctantly got up for meals and felt obliged – now that my rigorous work time table has stopped until January – to stay on after eating and sort the kitchen out, which is no easy task as my husband, John consults a variety of cookery books before he agrees to mash the potatoes. Not because he doesn’t know how to mash them, but because he still wants to uncover the very best combination. This combining also requires that he use every cooking utensil that we possess. At the moment he seems to move between Nigella’s practical and democratic ‘Kitchen’, where all the dishes work and ‘The Complete Robuchon’. How complete do you have to be to mash potatoes, and how many pots are necessary, and how many Michelin stars do you have to win, I sigh as it takes me much, much longer to clean up the dishes than to eat my delicious meal and mash.
In fact we are soon off to Paris to avoid Christmas…

We were finally to have sampled the mythic Yannick’s table as hitherto our visits have always coincided with his absence, or the legendary restaurant being closed for tile restoration. I could just as easily sit and look at the fabulous tiled floor, or imagine Proust flirting with the waiters, ah, but that was just around the corner, as eat any meal, that is except breakfast when I still watch the waiters, but we have now cancelled our legendary booking because our grand children do not approve of lunch. In fact they are not out of bed, and would be most indignant at breakfasting before noon, even at ‘Angelina’s’ and there is no way we could justify the mythical price of even one a la carte Yannick asparagus in the evening. My comment is not fair to Dan, for if there is one thing likely to make him rise before noon, it is Paris. And, worrying about the result of his Trinity entrance and discussing which restaurant he wants

Grandad, the 80's

‘Grand Dad’ to book for dinner. While I’m happy to stay hotel-home, eat club sandwiches with Portia, and people watch. But she’ll no doubt want to go clubbing with her mum. In fact we’ve all agreed to go clubbing together.

In a way I rather wish I hadn’t started re-reading ‘Middlemarch’ before we are due to go because whenever I am properly committed to reading a novel, which isn’t that often, other than when I’m re-reading Proust’s ‘Recherche’, I become anti-social. I’m finding with ‘Middlemarch’, and I cannot remember when I last read it, that although I do not have any memory of the plot at all, my brain still seems to know what is going to come next, not in advance but only page-by-page. I have no idea what will happen to Causabon, but I rather think he will have to die, and with any luck he wont return from Rome. I don’t know who bores me most: Causabon or those relentless foreign policies of Monsieur Norpois. Only last week I should never have dreamt that Proust’s ‘Recherche’ would drop off my linguist-deaf tongue – or rather my pen in such a languid manner – as I should never dare pronounce it, but since my Proustian partner managed to inveigle me, except he doesn’t inveigle – and would I think detest the word – anybody into doing anything. But, it was through his magic that I ended up, far less reluctantly than I could, to begin with, have imagined, doing a gig on Proust at the Royal Society of Literature, and being privileged to hear Christopher Prendergast and Ian Patterson jousting over whether Proust and Art were, or were not life savers and could, or could not, redeem the Time. And, just for your benefit Christopher, oh heavens I can’t even initial your surname because they both start with ‘P’, so just for your benefit Prof, I don’t believe in Redemption either, well not through Proust, nor Love, not through anything except perhaps Individuation and the Self.