Wednesday, June 18, 2014

choses varieuses

I bought a journal a few days before Scott was born, for the purpose of turning inward and being quiet and thoughtful and stuff in the several weeks I had left before the child arrived and my life changed forever. I think I've written in it three times. One entry just says "It's kind of hard to find time to write with a baby around," and then it stops because the baby woke up.

Tomorrow is the fourth week since his birth, and things still aren't quite back to "normal." My body is basically functional for non-gestational purposes again, barring some weird little quirks like sore knees? Itchy chin? I expected a flabby stomach, bags under my eyes and huge boobs but not an itchy chin (it is a common post-partum complaint, I discovered.) Our sleep patterns will never be the same, but we're settling into some kind of pattern, anyway. Breastfeeding is starting to go well, although Bubby-ji and I still have some very frustrating moments. Walk away from the baby, take a shower or at least a deep breath, try again. He doesn't seem to like it when I try to multitask while nursing, so today, when I nurse, I am shoving away all distractions such as the internet, books, and my cup of coffee. I wonder if it's that my body shifts subtly when I'm looking at something else, or if he can sense in some other way that I'm not thinking about him. In any case, it seems good to return to him.

In addition to the Outlander series, I am reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West. That may sound random but it is totally awesome. The author documents her trip through the Slav states in 1937, but it's more than just a travel journal. I think the fundamental task of any artist and thinker is to relate the universal to the particular in a way appropriate to the scope, topic, and audience of the work. Dame West glides between these spheres in such a way that each movement is welcome as refreshment, comfort and delight. Of course she relates amusing and poignant anecdotes about people and places, but one never knows when a little vignette will open up into something wide and cosmic. She often reads little details as symbols (for example, she and her husband find a Slavic fairy tale a telling statement of Slavic attitudes toward government) but never too neatly. The history of Western European imperialism in Eastern Europe is woven deeply into even her minute observations because she is not only a very perceptive novelist, but a well educated woman with a long view of things.

Virginia Woolf notes, with Coleridge, in A Room of One's Own that a great mind is androgynous, that the sexes are unselfconsciously united in someone like Shakespeare, Shelley, or Keats. 

...when one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas, and that is the only sort of writing of which one can say that it has the secret of perpetual life. 

Ever since I read that I've been on the lookout for androgynous minds. I feel a little shy about actually bestowing such a compliment on anyone, but instead I take it as an ideal by which I measure all artists. And I think that Rebecca West measures up very well.

Now my baby is pooping and crying. So much for a room of my own!

No comments:

Post a Comment