In addition to writing blog entries, I have come across some really interesting posts and blogs, so I thought I would mentioned some of them in greater detail. This is the first in an ongoing series of “links”.
For the first blog in my list: This and That Continued
Jenny Diski is an author who wrote “16 or 17” books in several genres (according to the blog) and wrote a column for the London Review of Books and had a couple of blogs – she was prolific. Although I am a reader of many genres, I don’t recall reading any of her books. This and That Continued was started in October 2012 and continued into January 2016, a few months before she died of cancer. Her obituary: The Guardian obituary
One of the blog entries that particularly caught my attention was The Island of Lost Words, written on January 15, 2016. Here is part of the post that follows a lunch with friends during which they all were forgetting people’s names and titles:
“So I had a thought about writing a book for the elderly, the old. Those who have lost their words more comprehensively than the friends around our lunch table, but haven’t lost themselves entirely. A book about where all the words go, where after a time they find the others and collaborate to make sentences. Not grammatical sentences, because there are always some words that stick in the mind. Mostly, nouns, verbs, and adjectives disappear, at least at first. The names, the actions, the descriptions that make meaning of what we see and think. That allow us to express the world to others. So the book would be quite short to begin with and grow as more and more words found their way from the tip of the tongue to Never Land. Words put out to grass, like fine old working horses. Perhaps the elderly reader would come upon a word that is familiar and point to it. Perhaps it would be a day of hearing only the sounds the reader makes with the words that mean no more than a falling Tetris brick or a single leaf drifting down from a birch tree. After all, the very young have no words and books are written for them. If the very young can soak up the sound of a word that has no meaning for it, why not the old.
There is a problem of course. We write books for the very young with the intention that they should learn about the names, actions and descriptions of the world they suddenly have found themselves in. The book of lost words is more like a clearing away. Like hoovering up dead leaves, or building walls that have nothing behind them. The child’s book is the book of becoming. The book for the elderly is the book of going. It had better be the most beautiful book ever made.”
For some reason it reminded me of that famous passage from The Little Prince about looking into the sky to see a star to remember someone after death.
“All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems… But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me… You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… ”
I’m not sure why this passage came to mind in relation to the other. Perhaps both are about building something or being something that is that is not for everyone … there is an element of a special secret that isn’t known to everyone but belongs to “me” – to individuals. Perhaps they embrace the idea of remembering in a tangible way the people or bits of ourselves that have gone away. Perhaps they honor those who have experienced something we don’t completely understand. Perhaps they just give us hope that we continue on in some way.
In any event, I just really like these passages and their images.