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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxv: Acting

I have always liked music,
but I grew to like opera
in my 30s because it told
me a story, and I could
hear dialogue as conver-
sation explained on par-
allel tracks. Except in
Mozart, naturally, where
da Ponte's libretti were
no more than narratives
one no longer needs.

I watched Ang Lee's mov-
ie on the Annie Proulx
story, Brokeback Mountain,
for the first time since
the daytime screening I
saw of it more than ten
years ago. Now, I think
Heath Ledger's portrayal
of Ennis del Mar, widely
praised back then, holds
up honorably well. Ledger
is gone, our Jacks and
our Ennises are gone; but
he put something on the
screen for the generations
to see themselves by. In
the meantime, we all have
Jack's shirt on its hook.
Long after it held there
for anguish, it persists
in place, to warm his kind.

Willy Vanderperre
Clément Chabernaud

Monday, March 5, 2018