Of all the places
Hello dear readers, whoever you are and wherever you are. I’ve been away from the internet for sometime and mostly because I’ve just moved to the beautiful city of Melbourne. I’m totally besotted with this place. And it has been so long since I’ve written a few good lines that I”m hoping I can write some down here. But where to start? If only I could gather my thoughts and make some coherency possible.
Random thought starting now.
I have been reading Montaigne’s book of letters and essays. Just perfect bed time reading in fact. It’s a monstrous book of more than 800 pages and when the librarian joked and said ‘bed time reading book’, I replied, ‘well…actually yes’. I can’t recommend his essays enough, not so much in the vein of Jerome K Jerome’s “Idle thoughts of an Idle fellow”, this 16th century aristocrat displays humility and candidness. Of course this isn’t to say Jerome K Jerome is not candid, for both share that particular flavour of essay writing, or ‘idle writing’ of everyday thinking, of the foibles and idiosyncrasies of human beings at their most candid with disregard for how loveable they may or may not appear. Montaigne’s work is also enjoyable as he is a great scholar of Greek philosophy and general history and he has an ability to apply these rather obtuse or seemingly inhuman figures like Alexander the great to everyday musings on death, sadness, bravery, etc. Most of the essays I’ve been reading are just little but by no means trite exegesis meanderings with titles like, ‘On Sadness’, ‘On solitude’, ‘On the role of kings’…that kind of thing. And because these essays traverse quite some years it is enjoyable to see the development of his ideas on subjects, the release of his obsessions on other subjects, as if with old age he becomes more flexible and open.
This seems to happen a lot to people as they get older. But some older people become as inflexible as their gnarled fingers. Anyway I thoroughly, most assuredly state that by reading Montaigne you will feel a certain kindredness, if not on every subject, then on some.
I’d also like to recommend the book, ‘Irrepressible: The life and times of Jessica Mitford’.It’s written by Leslie Brody. I’ve been obsessed with biographies from a very young age. My favourite books were as a child ‘Fantastic freaks’ and ‘Famous Crackpots’. I loved reading about the ‘weird’ . Weird, the word, I have been informed by my husband, derives from the gaelic word for Goddess. Think of Shakespeare’s ‘Weird Sisters’. But it is an ancient word. Anyhoo I digress! Now this character is not so much weird, as wild, Jessica, or Decca left the wealth and stifling comfort of her aristocratic family to runaway with a lover and become a swindler of sorts, living by her beauty and gumption and travelling all across the world. She was awoken to the spirit of socialism at a young age, at the same time as her sister Unity was awoken to Nazism. It is horrifying to see her sister become a favourite of Hitler’s and how this tore at Decca’s political activism as a stoic and passionate campaigner for socialism and an end to fascism. She was so courageous, and never looked back with many regrets. Well at least that’s the way the tale is being told. I haven’t finished the book but if you need a book with a fine female heroine…