Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Trains of Thought

Two things re-read today, prompted by thinking of my childhood. Reading today because I have thinned out the diary, cancelled things that happen relentlessly one after the other, too tiring, I cannot keep doing it. So, reading in silence, the luxury of following a train of thought from the originating prompt to the place where my mind takes me to thinking about.

The harm done to us in our childhood; hidden emotional harm, unconsciously or in self-justification by our parents; this inheritance of those of us nearly old who were the children born to parents soon after the Second World War. The harm done to children always by parents who are un-trained, un-licensed, unfit for the job, un-seen. Still today.

So, two peoples' writings that linked for me today:

Firstly, James Fenton's poem in The Memory of War and Children in Exile:

'What I am is not important, whether I live or die -
It is the same for me, the same for you.
What we do is important. This is what I have learnt.
It is not what we are but what we do,'
Says a child in exile, one of a family...

... They have learnt much. There is much to learn.
Each heart bears a diploma like a scar -
A red seal, always hot, always solid,
Stamped with the figure of an overseer, ...

Where would we be without books on our shelves; ignorant, map-less, forever going round in circles on the same route-less track. Next I re-read:

Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet (in translation by M D Herter Norton, publisher W W Norton) written in May 1904, before the social upheavel and societal interuption of two world wars:

We are only just now beginning to look upon the relation of one individual person to a second individual objectively and without prejudice, and our attempts to live such associations have no model before them. And yet in the changes brought about by time there is already a good deal that would help our timorous novitiate.

The girl and the woman, in their new, their own unfolding, will but in passing be imitators of masculine ways, good and bad, and repeaters of masculine professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions it will become apparent that women were only going through the profusion and the vicisitude of those disguises in order to cleanse their own most characteristic nature of the distorting influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life lingers more fruitfully and more confidently, must surely have become more fundamentally riper people, more human people, than easygoing man, who is not pulled down below the surface of life by the weight of any fruit of his body, and who, presumptuous and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves. The humanity of woman, borne its full time in suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she will have stripped off the conventions of mere femininity in the mutations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching today will be surprised and struck by it. Some day (and for this, particularly in the northern countries, reliable signs are already speaking and shining), some day there will be girls and women whose name will no longer signify merely an opposite of the masculine, but something in itself, something that makes one think, not of any complement and limit, but only of life and existence: the feminine human being.

This advance will (at first much against the will of the outstripped men) change the love-experience, which is now full of error, will alter it from the ground up, reshape it into a relation that is meant to be of one human being to another, no longer of man to woman. And this more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle, and kind and clear in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love that consists in this; that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.

My trains of thought are not your trains of thought but maybe we have sometimes stood on the same platform waiting for similar approaching trains.

3 Comments:

Blogger BloggingMone said...

Rainer Mariea Rilke is one of my all time favourites. I had no idea he has been translated into English!

Wednesday, 9 August 2006 at 19:00:00 BST  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

My favourite short story by Rainer Maria Rilke is "Wladimir - the painter of clouds" or whatever it is called in English. Did you ever come across that one?

Thursday, 10 August 2006 at 10:04:00 BST  
Blogger Sally's Life said...

I only know his poems (Penguin Modern Poets edition) and 'Letters to a Young Poet'. I will look out his stories in translations. In the meantime, your enthusiasm has prompted me to indulge myself ....

Thursday, 10 August 2006 at 12:43:00 BST  

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