Friday, March 9, 2018

Pieces for dwelling

Alan Bennett kept for some years with
Rupert Thomas a house in rural France,
L'Espiessac, which he has extraordin-
arily captured in small prose entries
in his recently published diaries. In
present days of inundation by grandi-
osity from Washington - yesterday's
carnival of trade warmongering with
friends and Napoleonic terror teas-
ing with North Korea being only typ-
ical - I think of Bennett's uncanny
gift for designing whole shelters of
lucidity of the lightest yet lasting
weight. These domiciles are designed
by what's in them, not pretended, and
recur continuously in texts one could
willingly read again, at least in the
life of the humane imagination, whose
home is observation and whose mode 
is self-discipline. This places him
outside of the flaneur's tradition,
exemplified in Baudelaire, where one
may find stimulation, if no peace.

            8 August 2006. The garden and the countryside
            already shaggy and unkempt, August the middle
            age of the land, shambling, pot-bellied and in
            need of a haircut. Some of the sounds escape
            me now (though I did manage to hear a cricket
            last night). Now sitting at the open window
            with Rupert still asleep there is just one pi-
            geon, hitting the same note again and again
            like a piano tuner.

Alan Bennett
Keeping On
  Keeping On

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