Saturday, 24 May 2008


"If we had a keen vision and feeling for all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity".
Just struggled through Zadie Smith's article in today's Guardian, discussing Middlemarch - and George Eliot's exploration of a search for - truth.
I relate to the thought, as the wind from that roar gets in my head quite often, blogging is one of the activities that quietens it.
GE/ME/ZS felt Spinoza got to the core of the meaning of life with the advice to cling to - feeling into knowledge, knowledge into feeling.
This rooting for feeling appeals to me, rather than trying to rid oneself of all emotion.
GE, Zadie claims, I think [and I am grateful for any help either can give me to unpick what each is going on about] that through our own experiences and imagination we can learn what it is that each of us needs to grow. Not so much through theories or explanations of "facts". Most of all the experience of love helps us to grow.
I guess loving child/partner/friend/parent does eclipse at times the terrible fascination with oneself.
I have read Middlemarch a couple of times I guess, but I think i will give it another go this summer.
I once read Daniel Deronda in it's entirety on a fast train to and from Granada, but I couldn't remember a word about it, and when I tried again recently I didn't like it much, and didn't finish.
Hopefully Zadie and Dorothea will encourage me forward.
Re-reading books at different ages is interesting. I loved the Golden Notebook in my 20s, Womens' Room in my 30s but a couple of years ago I couldn't get into either of them.
Once on a train [again] to and from Cornwall I was reading Mr Pickwick, when we got home I couldn't extricate my mind from the characters and was very confused indeed until revived with a cup of tea, followed by a long sleep.
David Baddiel, again in the Guardian Review today rings the bells for Jane Austen - no it is the Books section of the Times [we have both so him upstairs can go to the pub and do the crosswords].
DB says she has "all the key modern realist devices; ironic narration; structural unity; transparency of focus; ensemble characterisation; fixed arenas of time and place and most importantly, the giving up of the fantastical in favour of the notion that art should represent life as it is actually lived in all its wonderful ordinariness"
But I like it.

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