Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Posts I'm Not Writing

So many things I want to post about, but when I sit down in the evenings I start fading fast, and find myself nodding off on couch or chair. God forbid I lay down, or that's it for the evening.

So, here's what I keep meaning to write about, when I'm awake.

* Love's Labour's Lost, one of Shakespeare's underappreciated works. It's very uneven, bouncing along merrily as punny diversion, and then slamming on the brakes in the last five minutes and becoming something much deeper and more interesting. The concept of the the year and a day -- that people, even lovers, don't just change on a dime, and can you really trust them if they do? -- is something that's been percolating in the back of my mind for a while. If I ever write another novel, that's likely to be the germ of it.

For Christmas my sister-in-law gave me the RSC's delightful performance of Love's Labour's Lost, set in 1914 just before WWI.

* After watching it, we had to get the RSC's companion performance, Love's Labour's Won, or, as we know it, Much Ado About Nothing. It's set in 1918, after the war (and staged with the same cast and country house sets). The kids adored it, especially Benedick's antics during the gulling scene. The setting was gorgeous and mostly effective, but Darwin was reminded of his beef that Much Ado really needs to be set in a milieu in which it is chillingly believable that these characters would kill each other at the drop of a hat, or throw a girl over publicly over an affair of honor without turning a hair. His idea is to set it in an Afghan or Iraqi setting (a friend suggested a Pashtun setting), with Claudio not the breathless young lover he's usually portrayed as, but a brash young buck. ("Like Marlon Brando in Streetcar," I said, "and he can yell, 'Heee-roooo!") Anyway, we worked out the whole concept, and if anyone's looking to direct a show, just call us up for some wisdom.

* We went to see Manchester By The Sea on Sunday afternoon. Casey Affleck definitely deserves the acting awards he's up for. It's been years since I cried in a movie theater, but I wept at this one. It's full of grief and people grasping at grace and not quite finding it because they don't know what they're looking for. It's a movie about people trying to bury past sins and sorrows by cutting off the past entirely and starting a new life -- a tack that never works, because you don't heal from sorrows by pretending that you can cut off part of your life entirely. These amputations don't work, and people come back into your life who have claims on you.

The next day, the first reading was about the Gerasene demoniac, a fellow who has caused a quantity of disruption and trouble in his neighborhood. When Jesus heals him, he begs Jesus to take him with him on his travels. Jesus refuses, and tells him, "Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you." The man may be healed in body and in soul, but the harm he has done in the past doesn't automatically disappear. He has to return and repair the relationships his actions have damaged, to apologize and rebuild trust and show his commitment to a new way of life without negating the old. (See the concept of a year and a day, above.)

No one in Manchester By The Sea can quite get this far, because it takes grace to wade through the pain this causes.

* Bodies are weird, and pregnant bodies are weirder, and the long and short of it is that I'm supposed to wear compression stockings for the veins in my legs so that years down the road I don't have to wear them all the time. Of course you can't take it with you, and my legs have never been anything to write home about, even when I was 18 and had Peak Leg, but it's hitting my vanity hard to think that at 38 I've torn myself up enough that my legs might be past salvaging. Then Anne Kennedy reminded me that Jacob's body was permanently altered and damaged by wrestling with an angel. Attempting the good is a perilous proposition, and, like Frodo, some hurts can never be healed in this world -- even if they're so shallow as bulgy veins.

On a related note, I recently had occasion to catch a fleeting glimpse of the stomach of a woman my age who'd never had children (a real person, I mean, not a character in a movie). It was... unmarred. The skin was whole and unlined, no silver tracks creeping up past her navel. I do appreciate all the blessings I have, and generally I pay no mind to my stretch marks because they're so familiar, and it is what it is, and I know that there are people who'd gladly trade smooth stomachs for seven lovely children, etc. And I do see unmarred tummies all the time around here, only they're young tummies ranging from perfect teenage girl waists to the tiny round tummies of my two smallest ones.

I wasn't envious. I was just surprised, and then surprised that I was surprised. What wonderful variety in people, that at the same age we should look so different, and be so differently marked by life experiences.

*Yawn. Going to bed.


bearing said...

I really liked your final observation and reflection.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oh now I want to go watch all of those, both the Shakespeare productions and Manchester by the Sea.

Chewing on the year and a day concept....

Donna said...

I love Branagh's version of Love's Labour's Lost. He sets it before the outbreak of WW2 and makes it into a musical with all of the great Gershwin and Porter songs. Critics hated it, but it really worked for me. I would like to see the RSC version!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about Manchester by Sea, I'm currently suffering under the weight of someone attempting to do exactly that -escape sorrow and sin by cutting (me) out of their life, but not realising that due to family ties, children, etc, that this is not actually possible. I wish someone could explain it to them such that they could believe it.