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That went fast.  40 days.

Now I need to go back to work so I’ll stop this for a time.  I decided when I started this sequence of posts that I would stop after 40 days and then have something like a 40 day break.  Actually, I think I’ll go seasonally.  So that was 40 days of summer.

Officially Autumn begins on 1 March, but I’m going on a school trip to India in April so I should start again then.  Let’s say 10 April.

See you round.

JP

5

First Eleanor woke up and then Rosamund.  We all spent the night in Eleanor’s room.  I think they slept alright after that but I lay awake for quite awhile listening to the wind.  It was the wind that woke them up.

It made me think of coming to this country in the 1850s from England on a boat.  The sound of the trees thrashing outside Eleanor’s window sounded very much like the sea, and the sash windows rattling, the chimney whistle, and the creak of walls and doors sounded very much like the timbers of a wooden ship under strain.

My great grandfather came to New Zealand in 1852 as a two year old.  Imagine travelling on those ships for three months.  Imagine the pitch and roll and the hundreds of other people and the storms and the calm.  No wonder very few ever went back to England.  You can’t go back, and you can only go forward for a time.

I’ve just reread Faces in the Water by Janet Frame.  I’m writing about my grandmother who spent a couple of decades in Seacliff and Frame, infamously, was incarcerated (let’s not say treated) there at the same time.  By the time Frame arrived there my grandmother would have been old and I wondered when I read her section about “the old ladies” if she made up the mise en scene.

I am going through the process of requesting access to her medical files.  It takes a bit of doing and I’m not sure that it will be enjoyable once it is done.

I read in Ali Smith’s Autumn this line: When the state is not kind the people are fodder.  It fits with a recurring thought that I use to keep myself in line, and remember how to behave.  It goes like this:

When we consider time, and all the people that have died in it – all the people everywhere on Earth since humans became recognisable to themselves – and then think of all the people who might exist in the future for as long as there are people in time ahead, then we realise how we – the ones riding this tiny moment of now – are truly a tiny band of brothers and sisters.  If we go on to consider that in the history of time this moving target of now, wherever we freeze it, would be regarded as utterly insignificant, but that we who are in it know just how complicated and diverse that moment was for each individual and for all the individuals as communities and societies, then we can see the problem of existence.  It is both too large to be comprehended, and too small to be bothered about.  We are both hugely significant as people in a shared moment together, and totally insignificant to each other in the span of things.  Across these facts people have laid belief to explain, to give significance, to stare down the vastness, and create purpose.  My explanation, your explanation, their explanation.  It matters very, very little, although the best belief would seem to be the one that allows the most happiness for the most number of people.  I tend to believe in the band of brothers and sisters, and systems that don’t lead us to fodder.

A shared bed in the storm.

 

10

As I paid the bill and the waitress asked me if we had any plans for the night.

We’re going to see La La Land.

Oh? I want to see that.  Is it a chick flick?

It has Ryan Gosling in it.

Yeah, it’s probably a chick flick.

I haven’t been into the main theatre of the Paramount since I went to see The Room.  The house for The Room was full, but for La La Land it is pretty average.  I’m not sure why, but the Paramount always feels like a second choice theatre, and maybe it feels that way for a lot of people.  Still, with Reading closed I expected more people here.

For some reason, a long time ago, we went to see Evita at the movies.  The first scene might be in a dark bar with Antonio Banderas pulled up to it.  It might not.  I’m drawing on a harshly repressed memory.  Anyway, I vividly remember the moment Antonio turns his head away from the bar and towards the camera and begins to sing.  Everything inside me died (it recovered later, don’t be alarmed).  I mention this because I had a similar experience at the start of La La Land.

But that changed.  Slowly, and then suddenly.

I often come out of movies a bit disappointed.  This is what I want when I leave a movie: I want to find the real world jarring as I emerge into it again.  That doesn’t happen very often.  Mostly I hang on to myself, and do not escape, and the world afterwards is not changed by some internal transfiguration in me – transformed as I hope to be by art.

Who knows, is this the start of something wonderful and new

Or one more dream that I cannot make true?

Both.

That was the moment, when Sebastian was singing those lines on a pier in the dusk, that I went from the theatre and over into the world of the movie.  Maybe the problem isn’t with movies, maybe the problem is with cynicism and the blunting of age, it gets harder to get pulled across the line from the theatre seat into the world of the movie.  We know too much where the shadows on the wall in front of us come from.

I shouldn’t have liked the big number in the planetarium, but I did.  I liked it because I loved Rebel With a Cause when I saw it, and because the music begins with a woodwind phrase which evokes – for me – Debussy, and because when you see two characters you like in a film who are flirting along the line of love you hope they fall in love.  Even if heartache is guaranteed.

Who knows, is this the start of something wonderful and new

Or one more dream that I cannot make true?

Both.

The magic of the film then stirred in me the desire to be better myself, to live a better life, to be a better person.  I am a romantic, an idealist.  A disappointed one.  Disappointed in myself first and most.  It’s art that covers the cracks up, and makes me feel hopeful.  So the fantasy on the screen stirred up fantasy in myself. For a time.

Afterwards, when we came downstairs and out onto Courtney Place, it was a shock to be out in Wellington on Friday night: the clamour of the bars, the warmth of the evening breeze chasing the cars through red lights.  And the beggars.  And the young couples brushing hands as they swung away up the footpath.  But this was not a movie set, the gutters not swept clean, the streetlights not props to dance around.  Not a place for romance then but romance lives in it.

Something wonderful and new, and a dream you cannot make true.