Archives for September 11, 2007
I only have time to post on the fly, and so will settle, for now, for sharing some quotations from my current reading: Henry Green’s memoir Pack My Bag, written when he was 33. Why so early? Because it was 1940, his son tells us in the introduction, and he “became convinced that there would be another terrible war and moreover, having vivid schoolboy memories of the carnage of the First World War, that he was sure to die in it himself.” The resulting memoir has at once an urgent and an unfiltered feel about it, as though Green had mined for any scrap of memory–and then imbued each surfaced fragment, however trivial or fleeting, with the value he found in it by writing about it vividly.
Here are some nice lines from the book’s first quarter:
“It is at that age if ever that one is fancy-free because little boys hardly ever think about themselves as everyone else does all the time.”
“In his presence we were small mirrors changing in colour to the hues of his moods.” (On a schoolteacher of “a violent appearance.”)
“Can it be true that people genuinely feel they were happiest at school or is it because they are so miserable grown up?”
“That is the pity of sobering down to middle age, there must be a threat to one’s skin to wake what is left of things remembered into things to die with. The crime is to forget.”
Writing for his life, Green attains an eloquence that seems founded less in artfulness than emotion. It’s bracing.
Sorry for the dust here. Terry has his cold, OGIC has been entertaining, and last night was my first jazz class. It was wonderful, and I spent the rest of the night in an elated state working on the little routine we learned which, if I can get it super spruce, may be my ticket to Broadway. Fingers crossed.
Seriously, the class was great. My two things to work on for next time are to stop trying to insert relevés everywhere (ballet you go up, jazz you stay down) and to stop giggling every time someone either says or demonstrates “jazz hands.” The instructor was nice about it, but it’s clearly going to be a liability if I can’t get over it.
I have to tap away at the book for a few hours, but more soon. In the meanwhile, here’s my favorite pop culture invocation of jazz hands from the summer (goodness begins around the 1:30 mark; warning: it’s from a show that makes some people’s souls bleed).
“The presence of death makes itself felt in the sadness of beauty.”
Hanns Sachs, The Creative Unconscious