What will yours be, madam/sir? A Walter Kirn or an Ian McEwan?

A sequel to Anti-Atlanticism: the lynching of Ian McEwan and Tony Judt has been taking shape, but I won’t have time to write it for a day or three. In the meanwhile, …

You are lying beneath shimmering eucalyptus trees, breathing in the invigorating perfume of their leaves, eavesdropping on the shffffffffffrrr-shhhhrrr-shffffffffffrrr of their movements in the caressing breeze … A waiter approaches your deck chair with the e-reader that you have rented with your hotel room. ‘We’re offering our guests a choice of complimentary e-books,’ he says. ‘These are sample paragraphs to help you make your selection. Both novelists are tackling the flitting-about part of today’s work world, the endless airport terminals, the plane rides. . . I’ll be back in ten minutes, …’.

I

Planes and airports are where I feel at home. Everything fellows like you dislike about them – the dry, recycled air alive with viruses; the salty food that seems drizzled with warm mineral oil; the aura-sapping artificial lighting – has grown dear to me over the years, familiar, sweet. I love the Compass Club lounges in the terminals, especially the flagship Denver Club, with its digital juice dispenser and deep suede sofas and floor-to-ceiling views of taxiing aircraft. I love the restaurants and snack nooks near the gates, stacked to their heat lamps with whole wheat mini-pizzas and gourmet caramel rolls. I even enjoy the suite hotels built within sight of the runways on the ring roads, which is sometimes as close as I get to the cities my job requires me to visit.

Up in the Air, Walter Kirn, 2001

II

Half an hour later, the Berlin flight was docked and he was fourth man off, towing his carry-on luggage, walking stiffly at speed, with unmanful little skips and hops (his knees, his body, indeed his mind, were no longer capable of simple running) down the sealed capillaries, the carpeted steel tubes that fed him through the airport’s innards towards the immigration hall. Far quicker to pound alongside the hundred-metre walkway than squeeze by the dreamy, motionless voyagers and their luggage blocking the runs. At least a dozen young men off his plane, hurrying more effectively, overtook him along this stretch, lean, crop-headed business types, raincoats flapping over their forearms, unhindered by their weighty shoulder bags, talking easily as they flew by. An avenue of ads for banking and office services, weakly humorous, effortfully eye-catching – clearly, advertising was an industry for third-raters – increased his irritation in the underventilated, overlit corridors.

Solar, Ian McEwan, 2010

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54 Comments

Filed under Book publishing, Class and literature, Criticism

54 responses to “What will yours be, madam/sir? A Walter Kirn or an Ian McEwan?

  1. Tried levitation, liked it!
    so much less co2!

  2. That s a good one!
    It was more a “side effect” of a kundalini flash, did nt go very far, but lifting up my big but energetically points towards “it s possible!”.

  3. Ah … en ce cas, un dirigeable, peut-etre? ; )

  4. un “undirigeable”, for sure!

  5. Nondirigeable? … : ) … I would have to agree. So am I, and most of the visitors in this spot, I’m glad to say …

  6. Thank you for your hospitality.
    Are the other kids swimming?

  7. Pas du tout, the thanks all go in your direction, from me to to you … the debt is all mine.

    The joy of having someone like you telling us about bits and pieces of French culture is indescribable. A couple of years ago (dressed in different clothing) I had an idea for a new type of web site, in the course of a discussion with a Brazilian blogger about how a particular phrase in Don Quixote should be interpreted — after he had ripped apart its usual translation into English. He told us that he didn’t think it would ever be possible to do justice to Cervantes’ prose and subtle sense of humour in a language as distant from Spanish as ours is. His own language, Portuguese, did not present that difficulty, he said. So I made this suggestion :

    wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of the great classics could have its own web site, with experts or lovers of the original language on hand to answer questions and help foreigners struggling with uninspired and stodgy renderings into their mother tongues? To cheer that foreign reader through longueurs – if only with an excellent chat?

    The site I have in mind would also make it possible to highlight a passage, and then listen to a beautiful reading of it in the original, to get the kind of feeling for the language that bypasses a literal understanding of it. It’s already possible to do this at the movies, when you can stop reading the subtitles in, say, a film by Almodovar (surely another Spanish artist indebted to Cervantes, as maybe Dali was, too) and just listen for a while.

    More details here:
    https://acacciatura.wordpress.com/longueurs-november-2008/#comment-2273

    The ‘other kids’ … ; ) … might be swimming, sleeping in hayfields, dancing under the stars … Who knows? After I started this blog in protest against the same censorship policies that brought you to us, some kindred spirits who came here to demonstrate their solidarity talked about setting up a joint site together. . . But our interests — other than fighting ‘Stalinist nannies’ (copyright: @antiphonsgarden) — proved to be too different. . . And then I, for my part, would want a joint site to be run really well, which would mean spending many hours on it every day, which couldn’t be justified without funding …

  8. I am more fighting FOR windmills, ha ha!
    I truly enjoy our little tea talk in the morning, I am now not awake enough to “catch the whole dimension” of the literature side.
    I say: if you push your friends to read what you write, forget it, if your friends pushes you, you might have something there!
    Even dyslexic, I had the chance of charitable friends demanding more of the same.
    My “side support” thinks even me reading the telephone book would be worth recording, but you know how Englishmen are, hearing a frenchy.
    I struggle, how much do I want the world to find out about me.I go delicate baby steps forwards, and some times step back kick step.I have my doubts about the big brother gimmicks.
    On the other side, I love to reach out for true new friends.I might open an art portal, but I am up to now too Salinger shy for a “get your perfect brainwash at my parlour” type of advertisement.
    I still believe that the right people might find me (and me, them!) through “magic”. Am I stupid?
    By the way, It is “witch land” here around, what a hazard!

  9. === My “side support” thinks even me reading the telephone book would be worth recording, but you know how Englishmen are, hearing a frenchy. ===

    Well, as a raving francophile myself, I would almost certainly agree with him. . . . I did post an audio clip of one comrade reading Shakespeare in the early days of this blog. He disappeared, and I wonder what’s become of him. Would you consider offering me some extracts from the telephone directory of whatever arrondissement it is that contains Montmartre?

    === I struggle, how much do I want the world to find out about me.I go delicate baby steps forwards, and some times step back kick step.I have my doubts about the big brother gimmicks. On the other side, I love to reach out for true new friends. ===

    Entendu. … I feel much the same way myself, on every point. . . This is an especially fascinating way to get to know people — with none of the usual superficialities intruding, distracting, triggering prejudice …

    === too Salinger shy for a “get your perfect brainwash at my parlour” type of advertisement.
    I still believe that the right people might find me (and me, them!) through “magic”. Am I stupid? ===

    Not stupid at all. I’ll sign on for brainwashing in your parlour … : ) : ) : ) … and then when my grey matter is all sparkly and clean, I’ll be your shining advertisement.

    === By the way, It is “witch land” here around, what a hazard! ===

    How do you mean, witch land? … On this scruplulously gender-neutral blog? Impossible!

    Have you, by the way, seen the new Agnes Jaoui film? Would you recommend it?

  10. It is early in the morning, and I just made “éclairs” to entertain my folks at breakfast. Now let see if I answer the different points.(is my head already screw to my shoulders?)
    I am far away from each cinema, so I have to wait till they appear at TV at midnight mostly(the better ones!), so…no!
    Gender-neutral, hmm, not sure if I find that a sensual therm.Sorcier/sorciere is not so distant in French, as witch/magician. All inclusive, no discrimination.
    We just discover a new music making gimmick, and have fun playing around, composing, singing.
    If by hazard we pop out a “ear pleasing masterpiece”, I will inform the select ballroom audience.
    It is comforting to know that you share my hopes and doubts about the pc potentials and dangers.
    I suppose, its about being informed and try&error.
    Ah!ah! you consider a braincell boosting on my magical carpet! Temerous courageous person,you!
    I think, my email address is available on my blog, if your wish for inner adventures is still actual (we might find ways for some phone connection!).
    Ah, transforming the world into a gentle human place, what a challenge!

  11. === If by hazard we pop out a “ear pleasing masterpiece”, I will inform the select ballroom audience. ===

    Wonderful! if that audience includes my various selves and occasional other visitors. Yesterday I read that Woody Allen claims never to have used a word processor, personal computer, … to be completely uninterested in every form of digital communication technology — even though he must surely use some of them in making his films. … _But_ he’s agreed to make audio recordings of his stories … I know I should do more with other media on this blog, as you say, to learn by trial and error … but forcing myself to play with other media here would mean taking blogging more seriously than I do, which could defeat its purpose, which is to relax by larking about. . . having fun.

    I smiled when I saw your sentence about making eclairs — didn’t know that they were ever eaten for breakfast, but why not? … I had emailed a dear friend about two hours before I read you, saying how much I enjoyed making for dinner last night a great big pot of soup that turned out perfectly … how pleasing it was to breathe in the aromas wafting from the stove. I had a handful of dried porcini mushrooms, which must be one of the most delicious scents on earth.

    Your attending Englishman and mention of your musical experiments also reminded me of this … After dinner, I was lost in a compulsively readable biography of two bohemian poets, magnificent writers, by their — out-of-wedlock — son and came on this passage:

    ===

    At [Jean] Varda’s invitation, she hatched a plan to join a commune in his villa in the south of France. He had invited a group of six middle-class English intellectuals to turn their back on the rumbling drums of war and join him in artistic pursuits on the Cote d’Azure. So, early in 1938, and against the backdrop of Hitler’s annexation of Austria and with the Spanish Civil War raging 150 miles from their intended destination, Mum and a group of artists and photographers set off to Cassis on the French Mediterranean coast. They intended to live and work together in a derelict but multi-roomed chateau that Varda was renting from his contacts with an English peer. . . She records [in her diary] that after a party in Paris on the way down to the villa

    ‘Varda is changing shapes and colours and moves in and out like a tune on the radio which fades and sometimes grows disturbingly loud. The fading and the increasing seem for no reason, and the images are endless.’

    ===

    … Some sorcier/iere must have made off with the email address you posted on your blog, because I couldn’t find one there. I have another, and might test it in a little while … You see, I am not supposed to be here at all, but working … : )

  12. Reminds me this delightful film about the childhood of the Durrell kids.
    The last glimpses of pre war boheme.
    My mum was befriended with Agnes Varda, but I don’t remember a Jean Varda.
    Life bohemians have the same “way of life” at all times.

    Take your time, your blog should be a pleasure to you, not a modern form of slavery.Even if I shake sometimes a bit the curtains in a pathetic pose, I am a very patient person.I CAN wait. If it gets burning hot, now, now now….I will ring the bell loudly, and you are still free to say, “be quiet, I just listen to Chopin, make marmalade or just save the Occident.
    (did you said something about your work in previous post I might have missed?)

    I am a bit lost, when I go to my profile, my public email is there, but since I changed the theme, I don’t know if you can reach out to it. It seems not possible to recommend blogs too. I might have to lose the lily outlook, to get more “practicality”back.

  13. Don’t worry, dear @antiphonsgarden, there’s no chance of my being a slave here … Think of the time I spend replying as ‘displacement’, at worst.

    You do come up with the most wonderfully original images … shaking the curtains a bit in a pathetic pose … : ) … I shall remember that one, particularly, with this promise:

    === I will ring the bell loudly, and you are still free to say, “be quiet, I just listen to Chopin, make marmalade or just save the Occident. ===

    Lovely stuff … Can’t talk about my work in this spot because it’s where I come to escape from thinking about it.

    The Durrells. I didn’t know that there was a documentary about them. I adored Gerald Durrell’s memoir about his family’s time on Corfu — like billions of other readers. But about ten years ago, I read the definitive GD biography, … which told about what was really happening behind the picture of bliss unbound that he paints in My Family and Other Animals. . . He emerges as a boy desperately in need of the father the family lost when he was only about two (?) … The drinking that begins when he is only a small boy will eventually lead to the desperate alcoholism that kills him, far too young after years of horror in which he loses his adored wife. . . He wanders around the villages exercising a droit-de-seigneur he doesn’t actually possess, with little Greek girls his own age. . . He barely gets any education at all, although that part didn’t bother me as I read, reflecting that he did brilliantly in spite of — if not because of — his lack of conventional schooling, wherever he chose to focus his attention.

    I’m sure we’ll find other channels of communication, never fear … and then I will inflict my frighteningly bad conversational French on you.

  14. That is the film, I meant:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Family_And_Other_Animals_%28film%29
    My first “Durrell” was Lawrence , I had discovered through his friendship with Henry Miller and dived than delighted into his books.
    Your background reality touch about Gerald Durrell, makes me wonder if to someone who had a relatively free upbringing , the English mentality, might have been “too much tears&rain”.
    My mother (professor herself) was intelligent enough to consider that the “schools can harm a good education” of a smart child. The teachers gave me “work on the side” to keep me busy from boredom .The most useful things I learn for life, I learned on my own and at the “ecole buisonniere”.The way the education, education, education system is made is a total neglect of the neurology of learning. LUST is the bridge builder in our little brains, not control.

  15. I think, you found out that I just found out that you had find out, the other communication channel.
    Go on, take your revenge for my barbaric engliche! Inflict on me, your franglais.
    Lets face it with a stoic attitude.

  16. === Your background reality touch about Gerald Durrell, makes me wonder if to someone who had a relatively free upbringing , the English mentality, might have been “too much tears&rain”.
    ===

    As perceptive as ever, I see. Yes, I remember from the biography that his inability to adjust to living in England came up repeatedly in the biography. . . The whole family found the adjustment, particularly to the climate, excruciating, and the non-writing siblings’ life-stories were even sadder than Gerald’s and Larry’s. . . Lawrence, who was of course young himself, made heroic efforts to make up for the missing father — arranged for tutors for his younger brother; tried in other ways to help and guide him, and they were fond of each other all their lives without apparently being able to do each other much good… I still admire The Alexandria Quartet and am sorry that lush writing like LD’s has gone so far out of fashion. Don’t know why we need to treat the arts like styles in dress — why, for instance, good portraiture in painting shouldn’t be as interesting in every age as abstract art, … say, Mondrian’s … Rothko’s, etc.

    Funny that you should mention Henry Miller. I meant to tell you yesterday that Jean Varda was a painter-turned-ballet-dancer-turned-painter and the uncle of Agnes Varda — and in addition, a great friend of Miller’s, who lured him to live for a while on the stunning bit of the California coast called Big Sur. After that, I think he tried to found a new school of painting in the US … but he’s all but forgotten, now, I think, in spite of attempts like this one to revive interest in him.

  17. === Lets face it with a stoic attitude. ===

    … and a glass of pastis?

  18. I never liked that stuff, but might get some for you.
    I stick to my grenadine.

  19. That’s alright, @antiphonsgarden, I shared an imaginary glass a few hours ago with Agnes Jaoui playing that rarest of creatures, a sympathetic politician, and two burly Provencal famers … it’s the fragrance of anise I’m mad about … I can’t drink a lot of the liquid itself, as glorious as it is. You must surely have seen the film by now: Parlez-moi de la pluie (2008). This sentence from one review might have a special resonance for you: ‘As critical as she can be of her characters, Ms. Jaoui portrays them with the evenhanded sympathy of a wise therapist who likes her clients despite their annoying foibles. ‘ … Entirely accurate, I’d say.

    I think I would like a grenadine sans sucre. Do you suppose there is such a thing?

  20. Beware of the “sans sucre”, they might be made with those chemicals who cant fool the pancreas and are used in the pig industry to increase their hunger&weight.

    But maybe a fresh grenadine juice, once the battle with the kernels is over, it is a total direct vitamin C “crashboumzoingflash”experience.

  21. I still do not have a pocket cinema at my barn.
    So I must wait for the film at ARTE probably.

    As Peter Ustinov once said “approximately”, one can love the actors, without having to love the play.

    Good Therapists needs a waterproved sense of humour, but do not neglect the needed “little sadist”in us, cutting the neurose in sushi pieces and feeding them back!

  22. Well, I used to buy bottled pomegranate juice some years ago — following the advice of some health writer or other about, maybe, antioxidants. But I disliked the added sugar. Never could find any that was unsweetened, and after a while, stopped drinking it. . . I’m afraid that you put me to shame, @antiphonsgarden. You would never find me wrestling with pomegranate seeds. … But perhaps I should give your brand of grenadine a try, unless its name is a secret … ; )

  23. === cutting the neurose in sushi pieces and feeding them back! ===

    Ah, Sigmund interpreted for the Japanese market! … Seriously, though, I do see what you mean, and I do like your metaphor.

    The film is much too interesting to wait for ARTE to put it on. . . A scene that you would enjoy: a young couple clearly headed for adultery meets by accident on the steps of a church. She explains that she’s there to attend a christening and asks if he’d mind accompanying her inside, as she is alone and feeling lost. They stand together in a pew, with appropriately devout expressions, agreeing that religion makes no sense, and each says, ‘No, no, of course I‘m not a believer …’ … Then the young Catholic priest recites the part of the liturgy in which members of the congregation must affirm that they accept Christ as their lord and saviour, etc., and the woman of this young couple says yes, along with everyone else, and delivers all the right responses (antiphons! … : ) …) in the right places … Mlle. Jaoui is a wonderful director with a magnificent, very quiet sense of irony.

  24. @antiphonsgarden, when you mentioned coping alone with your mother’s illness, I meant to give you this link, but then forgot … http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/magazine/20pacemaker-t.html?pagewanted=all

    If you look at the highlighted comments on the piece (a selection by the editors of the best-of-the-best), you could find that you are the only westerner a Malaysian reader would approve of. When I last looked at the debate, about two weeks ago, she was the only commenter not expressing any sympathy for the article-writer’s lament about the burdens that the collapsing minds and bodies of the old impose on family members.

  25. Ah, parents! have a look at the mum of Agnes Jaoui.
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agn%C3%A8s_Jaoui

    To the article about the Father who has Alzheimer,
    I remain after my own yearlong home care experience with my mother who had Alzheimer, amazed about the emotional poverty of people who obviously have lost the language of the heart and let in through the back door a post modern yuppie comfort of mind coldness who might end in “caring eugenic” who pretends to be about dignity. The whole “unbearable” meme supported by a “care industry” preaching for his business plus value “progress”, instead of bringing real help to those involved.Nothing/nobody has to disturb job efficiency . Economy is the new “god”.
    Instead of changing the paradigm of a sick society excluding those who are not fitting the “success” determinism (poor, children and older), maybe
    reflect what impacts minds that they “lose ground”, like, let say, the aluminium salts in drink water to “clear it up nicely from an earthy brown outlook”, pesticides and other agro chemical substances affecting human neurology, socio-psycho dynamic “blocking the system”, cultural inapt emotional patterns and so on.
    Life is precious up the last drop, and reducing it to an “ice cube in the drink” lifestyle convenience “worthiness” is social autistic.

  26. Thank you, I looked … makes excellent sense for her mother to be a psychologist. Her characters are so well-observed and so true to life that they and their dilemmas have close counterparts elsewhere — the other side of the world.

    The other subject — end-of-life treatment and care — is going to swell to monstrous proportions as the most populous post-war generation gets creakier. I am not sure about the rights and wrongs, here. If the person who needs care is a parent, then he or she might be at least partly responsible for a child who turns out like this, wouldn’t you think:

    === the emotional poverty of people who obviously have lost the language of the heart and let in through the back door a post modern yuppie comfort of mind coldness ===

    …whereas you, who — I’m guessing — were close to a parent who couldn’t remotely be described as cold would, of course, turn out very differently. . .

    Have been trying intermittently for hours to post a reply on your blog. WP won’t cooperate … grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. : )

  27. Its important to figure out our unfinished buisness with parents befor things gets tuff, but sometimes(mostly) life “happens” and we have to go for what we get served hot&spicy, straight.
    I found the experience of care a turn around of our mother/child roles, and in a way a good occasions to
    re look at whom we both were.A new puzzling, overwhelming intimacy who made me discover myself too in another way and set limits as much as simply “go for the daily things to do!.Heart learns permanently, and I believe in redemption through awareness .(last sparkle of catholism !)

  28. I was imagining — as the extreme opposite of yours — the mother in La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher in the English version). Isabelle Huppert’s portrayal of the daughter has few equals in the history of acting for the cinema, yes? I wondered, would even @antiphonsgarden … : ) … be able to treat someone so severely damaged, so much under her mother’s thumb that they even sleep in the same bed? Wouldn’t a client like that be like one of those people we read about periodically, who emerge from living in the forest as animals for most of their lives, who then attempt to exist among their fellow-humans for a few years, then one day vanish into the trees again?

    === Heart learns permanently, ===

    I do agree with that, although what it learns might not be what we expect or would find most desirable.

  29. Who said my family was a paradise of the thoughtful s?
    But probably my bunch feed me with enough “permission to see” through their neuroses and those of the world.
    I am not so “impressed” by the complexity of neurotic structures. Some might insist in their extraordinary hidden challenge with a sensation of mystery thrill, I am terribly banal and go for the essential beyond those noises.
    Oh, this pumping little heart in all this agitation.
    Same needs in all, basically!

  30. I remember vaguely someone saying something like:
    ” we tend to imagine the devil as more witty than the angels”.
    I think, to use this old metaphoric terminology, that the “devils” are wounded angels and no, not stronger than “the real thing”.
    Irritating, puzzling, damaging, yes, but like all neglect children in a desperate search for recognition. Nightmares are story’s too, speaking to us and searching for the inner meaning of “all this”.

  31. Apologies for my delinquency as a blog-minder.

    Summer. Visitors. Returning to routines …

  32. === I am not so “impressed” by the complexity of neurotic structures. Some might insist in their extraordinary hidden challenge with a sensation of mystery thrill, I am terribly banal and go for the essential beyond those noises. ===

    I don’t doubt that your patients’ neuroses flee at the first sight of you … their most implacable enemy, precisely because you refuse to take them seriously. : )

    But I only mentioned Isabelle Huppert in the screen version of the Elfriede Jelinek story — how I wish I could read it in the original German — to keep the conversation interesting. Not the most imaginative train of association on my part, as I’m sure you’ll agree — mothers & daughters … relationships between mothers & daughters at the other pole from good … French mothers and daughters …

    The neuroses of the author, like those of the character Huppert plays, would be a terrific challenge for someone in your line of work, @antiphonsgarden, … I would love to see you go to work on them:

    === Both conditions are anxiety disorders which can be highly disruptive to everyday functioning yet are often concealed by those affected, out of shame, or feelings of inadequacy. Jelinek has said that her anxiety disorders make it impossible for her to go to the cinema or board an airplane (in an interview she wished to be able to fly to New York to see the skyscrapers one day before dying), and she felt incapable of taking part in any ceremony. === http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfriede_Jelinek

  33. I am more touched by Ingeborg Bachmann, her writing more than the film Malina, played by Isabelle Hubert, I usually like.

    Ah, the good old hysteric characters,
    almost a nostalgia in the time of blunt boring narcissism.
    But what a patiences it requires to find a pause between their agitation and exhaustion to be able to say a word or two who might make sense.

  34. === But what a patiences it requires to find a pause between their agitation and exhaustion to be able to say a word or two who might make sense. ===

    : ) …………….! … I can imagine … I went looking for more information — never having read a word about Malina, and found on answers.com:

    In this movie, a woman is going mad, literally, with frustration. Based on a novel by Ingeborg Bachmann, Isabelle Huppert plays the distraught woman who feels that the choice between her uninspiring husband and her indifferent lover warrants ever-escalating displays of rage, distress and loss of self-control. Eventually her self-indulgence leads to her setting her now-demolished Viennese apartment on fire and burning herself alive in it while the movie score plays songs from grand opera to celebrate her dramatic departure from life.

    I would watch Huppert in anything — she’s superb.

    Do you know whether that story was autobiographical — about the end of Bachmann’s relationship with Max Frisch?

  35. One wonders considering her death.

  36. Yes, there are artists who do that — first give a character the departure they plan for themselves, then execute it.

    And then, a few generations later, curious people wonder, just who was this man she incinerated herself for? They find, in her case, just an ordinary-looking bloke with a belly that evidently enjoyed its share of fondue and beer — and maybe a bit more than enough of those: http://fkoester.de/biedermann/maxfrisch/seite1.html

    Seems wasteful, at the very least. But perhaps his mind inspired and drew her best work from her — and she lost her ability to write, without him?

  37. I don’t blame Bachmann s lifestyle on Max Frish, who for a time was probably one of the few able to propose an intelligent mind on the other side.

    Sometimes “soul partners” can look very dispatched , but the enriching potential of such loves , once one has to courage to accept the unexpected, can be tremendously enriching life gifts for a time or longer.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_and_Maude

  38. Not sure what you mean there, @antiphonsgarden … if you are saying that Frisch’s appearance might have concealed extraordinary qualities that made her think of him as her soul mate, I agree. . . It was just an idle thought … that if she could only have switched perspectives and seen him as someone in the future would — perfect casting for the professor in Der Blaue Engel , perhaps– then no matter how much he meant to her, she might have retained just enough objectivity not to set herself on fire.

    No, I have never seen Harold and Maude. Have come across references to them for years and assumed that they must be figures from ancient American television history. But if you recommend the film, I’ll certainly try to see it.

  39. I do not see Max Frisch as Proffesor Unrat.
    As much as I like many of Ingeborg Bachmann s text, I don’t think that her behaviour towards herself was “his fault”.I do not think in such therms . If one has a self neglect or self destructive behaviour, the awareness of his environmental impact might be precious, but remaining in the blame of it, is not helpful.

    Enjoy the film if you can see it somewhere, From laughing to being touched, its all inclusive.

  40. I hope that you don’t think I was suggesting any such thing — that he was responsible for what she did. I was suggesting the precise opposite — that she seems to have let him become too important to her, so reacted irrationally to the failure of their relationship. Your opinion of this is infinitely more useful than mine, since I know no more than the outline of her life and, unlike you, have never read her work.

    About the Blaue Engel. The actor who actually played the prof was good enough to make it almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. . . But all I was saying– or rather, implying — was that if we could conceive of someone else in the part, and if that one picture of Max Frisch to which I linked was a good likeness, he’d fit the character in the film. . . I meant that he looked like an echt tweedy academic, with his tortoisehell spectacles, etc. …

    Here’s something I think you might like. Last week, newspapers ran interviews with P.D.James — the detective fiction writer — who wanted the world to know that turning 90 wasn’t stopping her from writing her next book. She has lived an exceptionally courageous life, somehow turning herself into a hugely successful author in circumstances that would be impossible for most of us. Her last book, published about three years ago, to which I was listening on a long car journey last month, has a valedictory feeling — just as you might expect. This is how it ends:

    She thought, The world is a beautiful and terrible place. Deeds of horror are committed every minute and in the end those we love die. If the screams of all earth’s living creatures were one scream of pain, surely it would shake the stars. But we have love. It may seem a frail defence against the horrors of the world, but we must hold fast and believe in it, for it is all that we have.

  41. Sometimes chere amie, I have the feeling to sound like a dry old stick myself, in my “that s it and no more sweets” comments.(big laugh!)
    We might even consider a Taurus (secure bully)/Cancer attraction( cotton wrapped driven) dilema between both, to joke a bit.
    Well, I have problems imagining miss Ingeborg “a la Marlene”.But her blues had wings.

    I have seen recently a documentary about PD James.A though cookie for sure.I always consider Mary Poppins, miss Marple and the 2 CV as my gurus, but I wonder sometimes if criminal story’s are the last exit in the UK to express the little dirts under the fingernails of a tremendously stiff self proud class system.I am not sure if I would be good at “killing my protagonists” to make a point.
    But after all, I am an excellent flie hunter.

  42. She reflects by this statement her Anglican vision.
    My vision would be just the opposite, assuming love as base, not as goal.Nature is far stronger than “de-naturation”, STILL!

  43. I=== have seen recently a documentary about PD James.A though cookie for sure.I always consider Mary Poppins, miss Marple and the 2 CV as my gurus, ===

    Yes, what a woman, she makes one feel like such a pathetic. flimsy excuse for a human being ..,. : ) … Re: Poppins et al., moi, je prefere D’Artagnan et ses trois mousquetiares — great, lifelong loves, … and I was going to t ell you the other day that I hope you are related to that wicked man, Cardinal Richelieu, because he was the most facsinating villain I met as a child. And I didn’t even understand the extent or meaning of his carrying-on with women at the time.

    === but I wonder sometimes if criminal story’s are the last exit in the UK to express the little dirts under the fingernails of a tremendously stiff self proud class system.I am not sure if I would be good at “killing my protagonists” to make a point ===

    You may well have a point there. But the Americans are also wild about UK detective stories … I am on the road, typing with wheels under me … Wonderful to have this to smile about, as it fits the beauty of the day:

    === sound like a dry old stick myself, in my “that s it and no more sweets” comments.(big laugh!) ===

  44. I wouldn’t say that she sees love as a goal, but as the supreme countervailing force, the consolation, the justification … in the face of all evil and suffering. . . Does it trivialise that message to remember that the Beatles, in their bubble-gum pop phase, sang the same tune?

    I too only recently saw P.D.James on video for the first time. Whhow at most struck me is how strikingly ‘gender-neutral’ her presence is. Not at all like the cuddly matriarchal figure I imagined, but still enormously likeable and impressive. Razor-sharp reactions; wonderfully articulate. . . for a person of any age.

  45. To some mousquetaires and Robin Hood.
    (who knows whom the clergy “impregnated” with spirit!)

    To the Americain criminal literature its not only about dirty fingernails, but paranoid projection of potty hands in the darkness of a sunshine bigotry.

  46. “but as the supreme countervailing force, the consolation, the justification … in the face of all evil and suffering.”
    That is the religious division giving love the female patient healing role facing the macho monster (strong devils) destructive world.

    I see love in all aspects, even in “the evil& suffering”as a twisted factor of it (weak devils). In the moment I enter my foot into love/evil dualism, the interconnection gets cut off and ends in a black&white determinism, I would consider as the worse “evil”.

  47. … will be back soon, dear @antiphonsgarden, … have been overburdened by the breakdown of a vital mechanical contraption that has turned life upside-down …

    Could it be the gender in your lovely language that’s encouraging gendered philosophical speculation by you? … And as for a ‘religious division’, … of the great world religions, only Catholicism gives women that sort of all-patient-and-loving-and-healing (Madonna) role, as far as I know. . . I wasn’t brought up in the tradition but in the far less imaginative and colourful Protestant alternative, so can’t — even subconsciously — relate to that perspective at all. . . In Buddhism it is the Buddha (with Tara in a supporting role) who has the qualities you assign to women, and in Hinduism there are both male and female deities who embody those qualities, and one or two at least who contain both poles you mention …

  48. I mean it more in a Jungian sense of anima/animus.
    Patriarchal religions (and ALL! religions based on a temple clergy hierarchy bureaucracy are patriarchal!) leads to the INNER split, and the “christian” ones are all coming from the neoplatonist division.

    That s why the subjugation of mother earth creative energy to the “helpless helper” role, is not limitate to the maria cult, who to a certain extend is the leftover who remained in the needs of many after the overtaking through the farmer lot marking fields and minds .

  49. … but … but … didn’t we get here by way of P. D. James’ version of ‘all you need is love’?

    You seem to be saying that she sees the world through Anglican-tinted lenses … that hers is a hopelessly traditional, narrow view, conforming to what the ‘patriarchy’ dictates.

    But she has revealed in recent interviews that her best-loved character, Adam Dalgliesh (sp?), is her imaginative proxy — comme ‘Madame Bovary, c’est moi!’ (from memory: might not be exactly right). Hardly a woman who’d have trouble with Jung’s anima and animus, don’t you think?

    … Sorry for these slow replies. Am not where I am usually, and have been inundated with practical problems; and the rest of the week will be much the same.

  50. Her Adam, might be as subjected to the anima repression in himself as the animus in madame Bovary.

    “… that hers is a hopelessly traditional, narrow view, conforming to what the ‘patriarchy’ dictates.”
    That sounds “too moral” to me, as I mean it more in an optical sense of perception “Anglican-tinted lenses” of pattern recognition of a fractal multiverse.
    Love as the “humble, patient, all redemptive”, corner role left as hope or possibility, in a world seen as subjected by another dominant “evil&rude”principe.
    This meme is running still and has to be questioned as serving the worse by his (not only gender role, but division in the most of us, male&female) acceptance of the division.
    I see Love as inclusive whole here&now, not as the “better longing” partial/ONCE projection!.

  51. Same here!(Practical incommodities!)

  52. …. Practical incommodities! …

    Indeed … and continuing, here. I hope that yours have ended — or will, soon.

  53. Your delicious Jungian speculation … ; ) … about the signficance of Dalgliesh and Bovary for their creators reminds me of a friendship years ago with someone who had swallowed every last volume of CGJ’s works whole, saw the whole world through his theories, and described everyone in the most tedious Jungian jargon. As a tease, I started a game that led to conversations such as, ‘No, no, that’s couldn’t possibly be true, it’s just your hysterical animus-driven anima’s projection!’ or ‘That’s the silliest reason I ever heard for not going to that film with me. When did your animus’s anima’s negative mother complex put you off Henry Moore?’ … and so on.

    I still think that you and that passage of P. D. James are saying essentially the same thing about love. That might be easier for you to see if you had time — and the inclination — to read her story. The context for what she said might change your attitude — since the sentences I quoted are thoughts she ascribes to a young woman who is recovering from being raped.

    But perhaps you are a 21th-century Germaine Necker de Stael, about whom Goethe wrote: ‘My obstinate contrariness drove her to despair, but it was then that she was at her most amiable and that she displayed her mental and verbal agility most brilliantly.’

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