Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The sound of healing voices

Would it not isolate the most objectionable aspect of enforced convalescence from corrective surgery, as opposed to a continu-ing ailment, to cite its languour? Authorities in these matters, who warn of depression, may be groping for a clinical term, for a truly tire-some imposition. In any case it becomes difficult to tell them apart.

It isn't so much that we wish to be doing something other than lying still but exercising, changing our dressings but limiting our bathing, adhering to drug protocols but also not relying on them. No, actually, this is pretty full-time fun. It's that our mind gathers focus on what would give it the most peace, short of an outbreak of the empiricism virus in the Tea Party. But there you are. Very sweet voices, peculiarly enough, in imagination as much as expression, come to the table first.

Very sweet voices, which can remark with delight in the rushing of water in the sunshine, the cooling of wineglasses in the flickering shade, the flexing of delicate wings to free, the flash of a tulip after a long interval of rain. These voices do exist, one enjoys being reminded, and they are fundamental to our hunger to be restored to the world.

These voices describe the essential scheme for our recovery, in mode as well as in hunger. A protract-ed persistence of acute inconvenience, we find, is better addressed with a philosophical tolerance than with impatience or disdain. It rained a long time, we are told; but somehow we knew it would come to this.

Is it not telling, that the prisoner's escape in Jean Renoir's La grande illusion is celebrated by his delight in the colour of the eyes in a child of his enemy? This is not an argument, but in that way a note of thanks to some bloggers from France. You and I, seeing this tissue, naturally appreciate its celebration of the growing of things for delight. Its artisanship responds to the uncollectibly capti-vating, and it mattered not for whose house, but for the loving eye.

As I lay reading these blogs, I was drawn back to the film I wanted to praise on the morning of my entry into hospital. In them I read nothing less than what distin-guished The 400 Blows, in the eye of contemporary film-maker Jacques Rivette, its best critic:

here and there, an almost unbearable force results from the constant use of understatement, and the refusal of eloquence, of violence, of explanation, giving each image a pulse, an inner quiver. Rivette summarises these virtues, as we all would, as simplicity, but also as genuinely French. I couldn't say, but I know where healing voices are.

François Truffaut
  and Marcel Moussy
The 400 Blows
David Denby, editor
Jacques Rivette
  Cahiers du Cinéma, #95
  May, 1959
Grove Press, 1969©

i, v        Le style et la matière
ii, vi     Valéry Lorenzo
iii, vii   Elisabeth Baysset
iv          Ivan Terestchenko



  1. While I thought that my modests photographs was useless, now you show me all the opposite. To read that they are a kind of balm to the heart (literally) is one of the most beautiful compliment you can do.
    I believe you and understand perfectly, regarding to other friends and protagonists you refer.
    Thank you so much Laurent !

    1. Thank you for offering the unexpected happiness, Valéry, of thinking one could help you to experience your work as others do. I did come to prize what I have the effrontery to call the 'imagination' behind the presentations in these blogs, for which I think Rivette's remarks are so apt, for all. It's gracious of you, too, to allow just this element to be discussed, in view of the great richness of your two pictures. Thank you for coming by.

  2. Your remarks are very kind. I still marvel at the miracle of meeting up and inspiring one another through ups and downs with these fleeting expressions of our time.

    1. You pose a harder question than I know how to answer, in the miracle. On my first visit to "le style," guided there by almost everybody I read, I fell into a captivatingly creative and sensitive reading of a painter's chair; and this happened to parallel a theme I wished to develop here, "the biography of a chair" (under Matter, in the sidebar). Having the gregarious effrontery of my dogs I promptly wrote to you to ask if I could refer to that posting in this future project (still unfinished); and from then on have always awaited postings at "le style." There is a breathtakingly fresh embodiment of Rivette's values at that page and it is manifest not merely textually, but pictorially. I believe there is such a thing as an attitude of beauty, not unakin to seeing with love, which possibly has a genius for inspiring itself .. ?

  3. Replies
    1. It's very nice of you to accept so generously a frame of reference which could be seen almost as cribbed or poached in some ways, from appreciations familiar to readers of LA. I would be the first to remark on such a debt if I could trust making myself understood as being more nourished than instructed. If you find this entry companionable in some way then I am rewarded beyond expectation. Oh - and it goes without saying, you did notice, that the eyes of the child at the end of "Grand Illusion" were .. blue.

  4. As I write this some birds are singing in the garden. Hearing it or not they would sing anyway. BUT isn't better that one should LISTEN too? We sing,Valery and I and YOU listen. It's GOOD of you.

    1. You DO have the indomitability of the songbird, Ivan, and this is just yet another layer of incentive to listen, I assure you.