08 November 2019

progress is incremental and not always linear

But there it is, progress nevertheless. From feverish snuffling and moaning to just being grumpy and shaky. The sighs of relief around me are loud and deep, even I can hear them. I am a rotten patient.

Ok, so this will pass and in a day or two, Monday the latest, I shall turn into a polite human being again. Meanwhile, let me provide three reasons why reading Louise Erdrich is such a profound experience.
We all got holes in our lives. Nobody dies in a perfect garment. We all got to face the nothingness before us and behind. Call it sleep. We all begin in sleep and that's where we find our end. Even in between, sleep keeps trying to claim us. To stay awake in life as much as possible - that may be the point.
Pain comes to us from deep back, from where it grew in the human body. Pain sucks more pain into it, we don't know why. It lives and we harbour its weight. When the worst comes, we will not act the opposite. We will do what we were taught, we who learnt our lessons in the dead light. We pass them on. We hurt, and hurt others, in a circular motion.
There is no trace where we were. No arrows pointing to the place we're headed. We are the trackless beast, the invisible light, the thought without a word to speak. Poured water, struck match. Before the nothing, we are the moment.
These are from The Bingo Palace, her fourth novel from 1994. I have read all of her books but in a higgledy piggledy way, whenever I found one in a library or at a second hand book stall - Germans do read English language editions (so do the Dutch).
This year I made it my task to read all her novels in the order they were written, which makes a lot of sense. But I am slow because internet etc.

And now for something completely different. Wonderful blogger friend Robin has just started what I hope and wish to become a regular thing, Music on a Friday.  And do you know what? I will do that too.
Thanks Robin for the idea and I hope you don't mind if I hook up.
From my songlist, Nadia Reid, a New Zealand songwriter.


Roderick Robinson said...

You sent me to the dictionary; is "progress", by definition, always beneficial? In fact the first meaning might be neutral ("forward or onward movement") unless "forward" implies "towards a chosen goal". We don't usually choose Hell and damnation as a worthwhile destination. By the way, should hell/Hell be capitalised?

As to pain, one could write a whole book, as C.S.Lewis did (The Problem of Pain). One important qualification is duration: acute pain may be the subject of comic reminiscence when it is over (eg, when I dislocated my shoulder ski-ing). I was less inclined to find laughter in the continuous pain of sciatica.

Death. We are what we leave behind mainly in others' memory. This fades and thus we die a second time. I can, from the perspective of great age, confirm "sleep keeps trying to claim us" as I get older. Bed becomes more and more seductive. Could this be a kindly act of preparation on the part of a sympathetic deity? Doubt deity, certainly doubt sympathetic.

I prefer to think we are responsible for our own pointing arrows. I'd like to think, too, I was the product of ratiocination but it's a longish word and unlikely to be part of a newspaper headline. Of which I have written many.

My life so far said...

I looked up Louise Erdrich because I'd never heard of her. It sounds like she's had a stressful life, six children, three with fetal alcohol syndrome, a soon to be ex-husband who killed himself and allegations of abuse from their kids. None of us know, do we, what goes on in the life of another. What's true, what's not. Perhaps my life is not so bad.

I will have to check out her books. Thank you.

I'm glad you're feeling better too. I'm off right now with sore feet which means lots of sitting which I hate.

ellen abbott said...

glad you are feeling better. the thing about pain is that it's invisible. another blogger friend also posted a song on Friday. must be a thing. and death. death is just the other side of birth. we worry so about being forgotten but why should we be remembered past a few generations? my mother tried to sleep the final years of her life away before she went to live in a family home with 24 hour care. she would use up a month's worth of sleeping pills in a matter of weeks.

Anonymous said...

I'm listening to the absolutely beautiful song you linked to here. Her voice is so lovely. I'm going to look for more of her music. Thank you so much for that. I love the Louise Erdich quote. A perfect thing to read while our bodies do what they are doing on their way to wherever they're headed. So glad you are feeling better, Sabine.

37paddington said...

I remember the wonder I felt when I found Louise Erdrich for the first time. Her writing is astonishing. I remember Anne Tyler had a similar effect on me. You are now reminding me of all the books I loved back then--Love Medicine (Erdrich), Dinner at the Homesick Restuarant (Tyler); The World According to Garp (Irving); Women of Brewster Place (Naylor). I wish I could read in the immersive way I did back then. What changed? Is it screens that changed us?

Secret Agent Woman said...

I recently read "Future Home of the Living God." Really interesting book. I have "The Master Butchers Singing Club" in my to-be-read stack.

Pretty song.

Tara said...

a moving, nostalgic video and a haunting song. Isn't Robin's idea fabulous? I am starting a similar theme: singer/songwriters I have personally know who went on to actual careers in music. I've posted their videos.

I think Robin's idea is a great balm for our times. Music saves me, regularly. As does humor, which is why I love Randy Rainbow videos and any humor mocking our Great Leader.

Tara said...

me again, I realize that Round House was a book she wrote. I loved it. Now, because of your post, I've bought two more of her books. Looking forward!

Steve Reed said...

The only Erdrich I've ever read was "The Beet Queen," and I loved it -- but that was years and years ago. I should go back and try some more. I love the passages you quoted.

A Cuban In London said...

Great quotes and I love the Music on a Friday idea.

Greetings from London.

dreaminginthedeepsouth said...

Worked my way through all of Erdrich's novels this year. Well worth the effort. Magnificent writing, storytelling, haunting in every way. I think my favorite was "The Last Report On The Miracles At Little No Horse." Just wonderful, heartbreaking - I went through a bout of illness reading "Tracks", one of the saddest novels ever. No one is immune from the heartbreak of life. But this level of story telling and insight - I consider Erdrich to be one of the finest American novelists of our time.