Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I thought to warn my oculist ii: I'd entertain a scary story

In an entry for this past Monday morning, the question was raised, what are you reading, which had to do with the figures in the field but which I left open to readers' responses. I reckoned, without quotation marks in the heading, readers would sense the invitation. A couple of thousand people have now seen that question, and the returns of the steadfast are in. I owe it to one of them to have lent me the grit to pluck a small collection of Daphne du Maurier stories from a shelf here, and open one with the title, The Blue Lenses, an optical curiosity I had committed myself to addressing with Vermeer, in the adjacent entry of this date. 

I admit, I have never taken the necessary steps to enjoy being frightened by narratives, whether in literature or in cinema. I suppose these preparations include the hearing of ghost stories on childhood camping trips, but as these were always told by sympathetic mentors, the requisite loneliness was entirely absent. To this day, I am preferentially unable to see Mr Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), even though I could probably storyboard every frame of it for you. All put together, it gives me fear, a kind of handling I dislike.

Du Maurier's The Blue Lenses (1959) has the same sense as my posting, of the prospects for salutary optical intervention in this hue; but there, traumatic blindness is healed for an apparent revelation of the hideous and the absurd, with delicious literary credibility. A frightening world, in short, is bestial after all. Well, my dear reader. We have easier demagogues for that principle, and assuredly, if we could choose between our lit-erature and our politics, the ghost of Ms du Maurier would achieve unanimous ascent. But I am grateful to her; because Vermeer won Dickie Hakluyt with blue lenses, and hers are natural for other ponderers we know.

      Why do they try to take

      God from us, Hercule?

      Because they have to
      preach something one
      can't believe, Auguste.

Daphne du Maurier
Don't Look Now
New York Review Books, 2008©


  1. thank you for Daphne's reference I am reading much of her works and much of the world of hers --- You made me feel closer to YOU with this post

  2. I'm not sure you're going to enjoy that position, dear reader. :)