Misty mornings

Searching for the right word. What do we call the stores that sell books and magazines in airports and train stations, points de presse in French? Stationers? I Google it and come up with Newsagent (bravo!) and the following snippet: (…) Travel Retail is responsible for the operation of stores at railway stations, airports and hospitals. Yikes! I never thought of hospitals as transit areas before, but there you go… literally. I seem to spend a lot of time searching for the right word these days.

I once spotted a title in the window of a point de presse: “Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part”. (Official translation I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, personal colloquialism I wish there was somebody waiting for me somewhere). What a masterstroke I said to myself, the emotional pull of the title, especially in a train station or at an airport, was tremendous. I didn’t read the book straight away - I tend to resist such punches to the gut. It is a collection of short stories. In one of them, a couple meet on Boulevard St Germain and he spoils everything by glancing surreptitiously at his mobile phone to see if he has any messages as they leave the restaurant. The image hit the mark, and reminded me of a drink in a country pub, once. Maybe I’ll write about it sometime.

Meanwhile I still have the urge to start an anonymous blog to post the notes I jot down occasionally after a session of psychoanalysis. Coming to terms with repetition. The idea here is not of rubbing out and starting again (palimpsest) but of producing variations on a theme.

I stumbled on a photographer who likes Gascony morning mist, too.


An innocent form of murder

Analysand’s diary 21/01/05

I apologised for wanting to pretend she wasn’t there. She said you can do anything you like with me. And I said isn’t it a sad state of affairs if that is the case that all I want to do is pretend you’re not there. An innocent form of murder she said.



While I was looking for information about Dylan Thomas'

Do not go gentle into that good night
[…]Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

I found And death shall have no dominion
. As uplifiting as Dianne Reeves, in its own way.


Egg tooth

I was thinking the other day I don’t post often enough or spontaneously enough. The blog is not lively enough. That reminded me of a Sylvia Plath poem that starts “These poems do not live: it’s a sad diagnosis.” The poem is called Stillborn.

The lines I remembered were:

“They are not pigs, they are not even fish,

Though they have a piggy and a fishy air – ”

Egg-tooth. Some creatures develop an egg tooth to crack the egg they are in and hatch themselves. Once they have cracked the egg, the tooth falls out and doesn’t grow back.

My father's garden is across the road from his house. It is world-famous; a beauty spot, part of the national heritage, or should be. My father’s garden is a magical place. Here are some pictures of it, one with the man himself.

Another one is of a corner with a solar-powered fountain. I had to wait a long time to get the picture of it working, clouds kept coming over and blocking the sun.


Small world

Browsing at random, I came across this wonderful story about the Glasgow coat of arms, which includes:

the tree that never grew,
the bird that never flew,
the fish that never swam,
the bell that never rang.

The fish that never swam

“The coat of arms always shows the fish with a ring held in its mouth. This is because a King of Strathclyde had given his wife a ring as a present. But the Queen gave it to a knight who promptly lost it. Some versions of the story say that the King took the ring while the knight was asleep and threw it in the river. The King then demanded to see the ring - threatening death to the Queen if she could not produce it. The knight confessed to St Mungo who sent a monk to catch a fish in the river Clyde. When this was brought back St Mungo cut open the fish and found the ring. When the Bishop of Glasgow was designing his own seal around 1271, he used the illustration of a salmon with a ring in its mouth and this has come down to us in today's coat of arms.”

It's a small world. I wrote about a variation of this story on March 11th.


The spirit of Marciac

I set off for Marciac at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I swithered about taking the roof off the car because it was very hot, and I was wary of arriving with sunstroke, but I decided that the bright sunlight through fields of sunflowers would be good for my soul.

The plan was to contact Françoise by SMS when I arrived, because it was easier to get a text message through the jammed networks than a call.

Heat. Crowds. Champagne. Mobile phone madness. A brief moment of respite in an art gallery. At 9:20 Françoise and her friends turned up at the marquee with the invitations. When I pointed out to the others that we had missed half of the concert they shrugged it off saying “it’s only Madeleine Peyroux” as if we were only really there to hear Dianne Reeves. This was a problem for me because I had decided beforehand that I didn’t like Dianne Reeves and that Madeleine Peyroux was my new Messiah. Eventually we were in and she sang Tom Waits’ Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night. MP did an encore which was pretty decent of the audience considering …

Dianne Reeves came on with a sparkling smile and started to sing and the way she grabbed the high ground reminded me of John Zorn a couple of years earlier. Her singing was impressive and imposing but I kept saying to myself “but”. Her technique is marvellous but who wants technique. Her singing was very, very beautiful. But. I wanted something else. The way she attacked the notes was so full of certitude and confidence. I wanted doubt and misery. There’s not enough sadness I said to myself. Then I wondered why I needed sadness at all costs. I resisted. She was charismatic, magnetic, wonderfully in control, a gentle flick of the hand to get the technicians to turn her mike down a shade, one of the guitars down a shade… I don’t want control I said to myself I want confusion and desperation.

Then she sang You’ve got a Friend and before the final chorus she started singing about how she was working trying to find her voice and trying to make the right decisions in her life and a friend took her to the Town Hall to hear some sisters sing and she felt her soul standing up to the music. I was almost hooked. But still waiting for something. Then she got the audience to sing. She sang a phrase and we repeated it, and there we were, learning a tiny bit of her technique. She invited us into the song. My resistance wore out, I caved in, and I stood up and clapped furiously, screaming “Dianne”!!!!

If music is a religion, she is indeed a high priestess.


Another penny drops

In Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, the sphinx is a chimerical imagistic figure who poses a riddle to whomever chances upon her at the crossroads to Thebes. If her riddle is answered (by a correct interpretation), she dies, her death signaling the termination of an imprisoning unconscious phantasy, one that was presented as if by pantomime or even charades so as to induce a correct (verbal) interpretation to end the siege of omnipotent preverbal images who all the while are hoping that we have the answer that can free them from the parts they were forced to play. In other words, the unconscious contains a numinous dramaturge who directs different phantoms to play different roles in pantomime until someone "gets it."(James S. Grotstein)

For many years I lived with the feeling of being “on the threshold”. For many other years (or were they the same ones?) my catch phrase was “I suddenly realised”. Practically everything I felt compelled to write down in my electronic or paper notebooks and diaries started with “ISR”, until the repetition felt comical. At the moment I am in a phase where I keep getting the feeling that I’m somehow “getting it”, getting glimpses of what I’m ‘really’ like, of my particular brand of excentricity.

Concrete example: I was trying to translate the French verb “troubler” into English, and rememberered the title of Musil’s novel Torless in French is “les désarrois de l’élève Torless” and thought aha, désarroi in English is what I need, “troubler” means “to cause “désarroi” - I’ll just google the book and find the English title – Young Torless – no, that’s the film, here it is – the Confusions of Young Torless.

Now, that book is a milestone in my mental landscape because it said something I found essential. Torless plucks up the courage to confront his maths teacher, to ask the burning question, what is it all about, what is there “behind” maths, and the maths teacher admits that he does not know and does not care. That’s what I remember about the book. That vital moment when the pupil asks the teacher what it’s all about and the teacher says don’t waste my time just do what you’re told. Imagine my surprise – nay, astonishment - as I read the google results and learn that the book is about sadism, homoeroticism… all lost on me. I read every word and the only thing I remembered was that abstract intellectualism is the atheist’s equivalent to blind faith.

I think my epistomephilic drive must have gone somehow haywire at a young age to protect me from emotional chaos. I am ready to admit now that I have great difficulty coping with emotions.