My dear, gray skies out reflective of my blank still mood, slightly aquiver like the incessant high-pitched background ringing of locusts hidden all over the place where? in the trees? the grass? the eaves? They're everywhere and constant, but not annoying, this organic sound - a similar sound made by a machine would set my teeth on edge I'm sure. So that certainly is not my frame of mind. I'm dressed in a 'Sunday Best' skirt outfit, back from a lovely, meditative portrait of a pre-eminent translator of Russian novels into German, specifically Dostoevsky's five hefty masterworks (from which the title of the documentary is derived - The Woman with the Five Elephants). The woman is well into her eighties if not nineties, and has had an epic life journey, growing up prewar in Kiev with summers with her parents at their idyllic dacha in the countryside, and of course with the advent and aftermath of war, and odd and terrible and sometimes lifesaving twists of fate, we see her now as she has an opportunity to revisit her native homeland. It's very well done & thoughtful. The woman, gifted and trained in languages, hence her vocation, is also - necessarily, to be an acutely sensitive, nuanced and precise translator - given to easily and beautifully delivered poetic metaphors herself, and philosophical musings dispensed, from the wisdom of her advanced age, with the lightest touch and wry sweet smile, without a trace of gratuitous, tiresomely postmodern cynicism or irony. I hate to overuse the E.D. comparisons, but this stooped over tiny elderly woman with her shock of dove-white hair in a bun, reminded me of E.D. in her simplicity and directness of thought, ability to tackle difficult subjects head-on, see clearly to the pith, and with spare expression and intelligent, and expressive countenance, so alive, tell us something vital that we need to know. Paraphrasing her (as I recollect the film typing here now), spiritual experiences are important because they make you less likely to hurt another.
Or I liked the analogy she drew, seated at her kitchen table, simply fingering a yellow onion, which she pointed out has no center, that there's the totality, the sum of the onion itself, and then this invisible story that it is about producing another onion. (I am conscious of paraphrasing here very poorly indeed, given her eloquence - but I'm only typing here, not writing a formal review.)
Or in another scene, she concludes that the "point" is that it's about the sum of things, not any one thing, not a single detail to be analyzed. She says this while standing in a dim cavernous Kiev cathedral decorated with a dizzying myriad of iconic images. She says to her granddaughter that it's impossible to ever absorb each of the images, they're not meant to be, it's about the totality.
I get those senses in my own life, aspects of it refracting and redounding. There's the fact of me, I'm 51, for a couple of more days. There was my birth, my growing up, etc., etc. And then there's this whole other aspect of significance to my life, which I don't even mostly usually get, certainly don't look at straight-on, it's not meant to be - somehow I matter anyway, even if I don't know how. Patterns help, and repetitions, looking back to recognize structures --
I don't know, I'm not being clear, but I understood what she meant.
My blog too. Maybe it's not about each individual post, each one of itself usually feels quite flawed & imperfect to me, and I don't see the structure - let's say that I don't intend a structure, other than endeavoring to write every day, in precisely this form. But perhaps all these accretions over time, unbeknownst to me even, take on a significance that ...
and here I stumble yet again, because I'm not writing a novel as Dostoyevsky did (sorry, I'm sure I'm botching the spelling of his name, but am too tired - so much effort to try to write, let alone be my own copy-editor instantly on top of it)
but Dostoyevsky, and others did write whole, wholly imagined novels, independent stand-alone universes
I take comfort in E.D. personally yet again - no one has ever sniffingly disparaged her as 'not having a novel in her' - that's not what she was about
And this octogenarian translator, who like an Elephant has seen much and remembers everything, has her own gift, her little piece in the embroidery, the crochet, the weaving (again, I paraphrase her own metaphors)
dearest love, I wonder about the Ghent Altarpiece I posted about a long while back - did you ever get to see that?
Or Reims Cathedral? I've read wonderful accounts of that, the amazing concatenation of precise detail, a rendered reflection of the teeming structured mystery of the universe.
Darling, I am so rambling here, but I think of how on my walk this morning at the conservation area, I thought about how there's the 'religious right', and then I thought, well, I guess I'm on the 'religious left,' but that's not quite true either, because I'm not religious, not at all. But I'm very spiritual. That's something I'm discovering, becoming more & more attuned to, every day in myself. So I'm on the spiritual left.
Well, I'd be made mincemeat of in some circles. I don't know, to me, it's not about dogma. It's about ---
I don't have a big finish. Crickets are still chirping, though perhaps their rhythm has slowed.
I think of you, hope all is well with you
P.S. this was a love letter, by its spontaneous, extemporaneous nature messy, not some finished piece