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Could it be the weather? - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Could it be the weather?


A quarter of the way through the year. The weather's turned (because I do not hope to turn again) and I feel like the rain has washed away my will, left me beached and stranded.

I keep coming back to a few words of a Larkin poem ("Send No Money"):

And I meet full face on dark mornings
The bestial visor, bent in
By the blows of what happened to happen.


Larkin's dark mornings lurk in the same area of my head as the "worse things" in Fleur Adcock's poem:


Things

There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.

It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
and worse.


We've all been there. (Party on Friday, party on Saturday, post-party recovery party on Sunday, out late last night, and so many good things but now the worse things are lining up outside my mind like a terracotta army, each one fragile on its own but inexorable in their hundreds and thousands.)

But it's Larkin's "what happened to happen" that really hurts; the sense that I'm incidental to my own life, a cameo role ("Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?") in something that's scripted by somebody else ("...what something hidden from us chose..."). I don't feel like it's God, or Fate, or the Turning Wheel of Infinite Moo Moo Moo, which dictates what happens; it's nothing so personal, nothing so human. I could happily argue with God, I would agree to play Fluxx with the Devil for my soul, but there's no bargaining with the sense that your life is a series of glass beads strung out on razor-sharp silver wires that you cannot see or touch.

These threads connect us all together.

If you're going to have your life scripted by other people, of course, you could do a lot worse than something that's mostly written by Eliot, Larkin, Beckett and Pinter (soundtrack by Thea Gilmore, Alison Krauss, Kristin Hersh, Nick Drake, Jackson Browne, Radiohead, and The Cure, in an innovative and disturbing pop-country post-indie angst-folk crossover venture). Illustrations by Gorey and Beardsley, please.

Unfortunately all I seem to be able to hang on to is the stills from the movie ("In a perfect world where everyone was equal I would still own the film rights and be working on the sequel"). It's the images that stay with me and carry on meaning something when everybody else has gone.

I remember standing at Parson's Pleasure in the dark staring out at the river at the point where it seems almost like a lake, the water waiting to race down the rollers for the punts; and the water was mirror-smooth so that the whole of the night sky was at my feet. If I look hard enough I can see myself staring into that abyss, and I can see the pale blur at my back where wings are unfurling, and I can see how close my feet were to stepping into the night, and I can feel the night air pouring into my lungs.

I miss Oxford so much it hurts. I miss the time as much as the place; I miss the newness of everything, falling in love, falling in lust, just falling and knowing that something or someone will catch you. ("No trusting hand awaits the falling star.") I miss being able to spend a week in bed with someone talking about poetry and music and swords and earthshaking theories of time and memory, feeling like you're inventing sex for the first time and it's all so new, so raw, so perfect that it hurts, and you don't want it to stop hurting, you want the light to blind you every time, the first rays of morning streaming through every new window, searing your skin.

...

("I am thinking of your voice / and of the midnight picnic once upon a time before the rain began.") It's probably raining on Angel and Greyhound meadow as well right now. I wonder what happened to my red carnation? Can they take root? ("'That corpse you planted last year in your garden, / 'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?'") I hope it just rotted, returned to the earth. ("What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / Like a raisin in the sun? /Or fester like a sore - / And then run? / Does it stink like rotten meat? /Or crust and sugar over - / Like a syrupy sweet? // Maybe it just sags / Like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?")

I am glass, and I shatter into a million pieces; the light refracts through me, scattering jewels over my skin. Stained glass. It's so easy to mock the clichés, the goth poetry, the bedsit angst; but this is how it feels, and the image is so old -- like everything else; there's nothing left to think, nothing to be said.


Geseah ic þæt fuse beacen
wendan wædum ond bleom; hwilum hit wæs mid wætan bestemed,
beswyled mid swates gange, hwilum mid since gegyrwed.


I'm not even going to start on St. Theresa and angels with golden darts, or Julian of Norwich and the image of Christ as mother-figure; it's all true, it's all interwoven, it's all meaningless. The more I understand the less it means.

Just one blow of its wing, they say.

Current Mood: IW4 your touch
Now playing: [all the song lyrics going round my head]

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Comments
lnr From: lnr Date: April 1st, 2003 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I miss being able to spend a week in bed with someone talking about poetry and music and swords and earthshaking theories of time and memory, feeling like you're inventing sex for the first time and it's all so new, so raw, so perfect that it hurts, and you don't want it to stop hurting, you want the light to blind you every time, the first rays of morning streaming through every new window, searing your skin.

Some of that sounds so familiar, and yet other bits I can only ever wish to have done myself, and feel somehow lacking.
From: ex_lark_asc Date: April 1st, 2003 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
But it's Larkin's "what happened to happen" that really hurts; the sense that I'm incidental to my own life, a cameo role

I think I hit the same bit of understanding myself a while back; the realisation that all this stuff that had happened to me to make me turn out this way was just incidental, there was no driving force behind it at all, no malicious intentions or divine will, just people being people.

I found it was very interesting, really. It lifted a lot of guilt and worry off my shoulders to know that I'd just grown this way because of what happened. It wasn't really anyone's fault since it was quite often honest mistakes that shaped me, so it couldn't really be said to be wrong of me to be like this.
huskyteer From: huskyteer Date: April 1st, 2003 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Don't Look Back

Gosh. I could never go back to Oxford. Or live in Cambridge. I occasionally catch myself feeling nostalgic for the student lifestyle, but in truth I'd hate to live like that now.
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j4 From: j4 Date: April 1st, 2003 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Don't Look Back

Yeah, I know, but the way I feel about the places is very tied up with the person I am/was during the time I've spent there.
brrm From: brrm Date: April 1st, 2003 05:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes. A lot of that is familiar, yet some of it I feel I should have experienced, but didn't. I miss Oxford too, and I'm still living in it, perhaps hoping that some of the magic has yet to happen to me, and still will if I wait here long enough. :)
Are memories all made in the same places in Oxford? I recall ending up at Parson's Pleasure when, ah, not feeling quite myself.

It's probably raining on Angel and Greyhound meadow as well right now.
It has been raining, but now it's just damp outside. I feel like putting a cheesy metaphor about crying there, but I think it's perhaps best that I don't.

I wonder what happened to my red carnation?
I captured a few photons that bounced off mine. Yes, those are photosynthesis notes underneath the glass. Photography was my refuge from all sorts of things when I was at Oxford, and I think it shows.

Pictures of the things I did when I should have been working.
Pictures of people walking triumphantly out of their finals.
(and pictures of me smiling like I felt I ought, when I came out of mine).
Pictures of parties I went to and observed from the corner.
And too many night-time shots.

Well, it shows to me. But then I know what the man behind the camera was thinking when he pressed the button.
j4 From: j4 Date: April 1st, 2003 08:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I miss Oxford too, and I'm still living in it, perhaps hoping that some of the magic has yet to happen to me, and still will if I wait here long enough.

<smile> I hope I can give you some good memories to add to the place.

Are memories all made in the same places in Oxford? I recall ending up at Parson's Pleasure when, ah, not feeling quite myself.

*hugs*

I think sometimes places become focal points for feelings, partly because of their physical properties, partly because other people have felt the same things there. Not quite memories hanging around in the air, but a kind of sense in the general consciousness that specific places are for specific things. Emotional memes.
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j4 From: j4 Date: April 1st, 2003 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
It's the weather. Your Man says so

Well, quite. Although Tennyson said so first:


[...] and in my breast
Spring wakens too; and my regret
Becomes an April violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.

Is it, then, regret for buried time
That keenlier in sweet April wakes,
And meets the year, and gives and takes
The colours of the crescent prime?

Not all: the songs, the stirring air,
The life re-orient out of dust,
Cry thro' the sense to hearten trust
In that which made the world so fair.

-- from In Memoriam


As for the other: Eliot's journey through the Waste Land echoes Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, not only in the sense of spiritual pilgrimage (unfinished in Chaucer, frustrated in Eliot) but also in the fragmentation of narrative, the telling of different stories ("He do the police in different voices"). Discuss. (20 marks)

Moo.

Couldn't have put it better myself, dear boy. :)
acinonyxjubatus From: acinonyxjubatus Date: April 23rd, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I found this when I was particularly missing Oxford too. So forgive me for posting in something a year or so old. And especially since you and I are total strangers.

But I feel compelled to write something.

Sigh. I was there 1995-99. The best years of my life.

I suppose it started when I was having a particularly stressful day at work....the realisation (over a cup of hot coffee in the rain) that some people would kill for a nice glamorous job like mine, yet it was the ....mindlessness that I couldn't stand.

So in the rain, I looked up, saw the tortured clouds dance; saw in my mind horribly complex fluid mechanics equations; thought I was going mad, then remembered talking about these whilst lying on my back in the parks with friends.

I miss the life, the exploration, the sense that you were discovering yourself and who you really were. Now it's the sense that you're forgetting who you really are. Never forget who you are.

Your writing reminds me of my best friend at Oxford; he was one of those cunts who spent one week revising and comes away with an effortless first (English, Wadham). Mmmmm. More memories.

I keep planning to go back for a DPhil, but somehow it never happens. And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ``Do I dare?'' and, ``Do I dare?''
Time to turn back and descend the stair


I think going downstairs is always easier than going upstairs.

But there's a certain realisation that hits you when you're ready for it. Screw the high-paying, high-stress job. It's the absurd life. The more I earn, the more I spend on useless shite.

Why do I think of Wonderwall?

Anyway, your post has sort of inspired me. I suppose it's time to do what I've always wanted to do. I suppose the old tutor's still there.... hope this hasn't been too random!

But fuck, I miss Oxford.
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