Friday, 9 March 2012

the kindness of strangers

Charles Dickens had, as a contemporary critic put it, a "queer name".[80] The name Dickens was used in interjective exclamations like "What the Dickens!" as a substitute for "devil". It was recorded in the OED as originating from Shakespeare.... It was also used in the phrase "to play the Dickens" in the meaning "to play havoc/mischief".[81]
~Wikipedia, Charles Dickens
I was startled recently to hear the character of poor Nell, in Dicken's "The Old Curiosity Shop,"quoting Blanche Dubois, a character in a much later theatrical script by Tennessee Williams. She did it with a straight face, too, on her deathbed, unaware of or perhaps insensitive to the temporal rifts she was creating.

Upon visiting The Old Curiosity Shop, on Gutenberg, and running a search on "the kindness of strangers," I find that Dickens was not, in fact, the author of the phrase, at least not in that specific collection, and so I am calling out the scriptwriter, Martyn Hesford, to answer for this.

Gary Barwin experiments with Rilke

His image below: Forestbook

G left a comment on my blog, which got me thinking...
his comment, |Sea longa RS brevis.|
My thought-activism:

the sea is long, and life is brief

and we are always grasping outward for that one true buoy that will bob and preserve us, eddy and accompany us, honour and obey us ~ tout suite ~ i am shoving away again all the careful men who come to me for healing ~ the kind who care little for my own well~being ~ my well ~ my being ~ so safe, they cannot imagine a whole world of people without the slick coats they wear to go to the sea ~ those who make me feel like a fish ~ drowning

Bob & Eddy are family names, brother & brother-in-law respectively. Boy trouble is the backdrop, husbands who were jealously opposed to my profession, or at least any form of success seemed to trigger opposition, followed by gentleman callers who, while they are happier in their work and tend not to oppose me as a cultural worker, have no understanding of how the world works, for "people like her." My favourite ex-husband once explained to the kids, "Our family is like an amoeba. It needs to keep dividing in order to grow." For myself, i feel like a person of extreme solitude, within that ever-changing soup, attempting to balance whole worlds and periodically plunged into the darkest of places. There is no person on earth who is morally obliged to assist me. I have friends, of course, and without my friends there would be no buoyancy whatsoever.

Here's a riff on a poem by Raymond Carver, writ in response to the writing of & conversation with my pal Giles Slade, circa 2005: it is also one of the first poems that i wrote with conscious awareness of where i have lived most of my life (west coast), rather than responding with the fascinations of the shell-shocked, always looking back.

watching the earth breathe
after Raymond Carver

watching the earth breathe
can become habit forming, wind
touching incessantly at our clothes
tossing our hair tousling spirits

we are water settling from sky
gathering in the folds of leaves
seeping into soil
watching the earth breathe
can become habit-forming
done tenderly with heart stirring
watching the earth newborn
on a grey morning

he told me
ideas travel first in drops
rills of thought become creeks
springs erupt into streams, streams into rivers

rivers open-mouthed to the sea
where thought comes together
with other thought
it pleases me

Gary Barwin links:
sound, "Rilke Standing on Fishes"
if it doesn't work above (depends on browser), follow the link here to enjoy his efforts
also, follow the link to read what he has to say about it/context


about Giles Slade,
+ (the big disconnect)

Beautiful Anne Diamond essay (Carver),

Even more tangibly beautiful essay by William Booth (Carver), 

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