24.10.05

weekend blues?!?

ThoughtsofEarlyAutumn

There are times when we all feel a little defeated and lost about the future. This heavy cloud hung over J and I the entire weekend, which was marked by stretches of talking and thinking -

- and, of course, (for comfort and mental sustenance) book-shopping!

One of the books we picked up from Kinokuniya is this illustrated story, Safe from harm by Rollo Armstrong (of Faithless) and Jason White.

In the book, 10 year-old Jack decides he will stop eating altogether. But his decision gets him smacked, angry, bitter, confused, and determined to leave home. So he wonders out at night into the streets, which turn into woods, and there, together with a group of monsters, he journeys to the top of a mountain and comes face to face with himself. It's like an updated version of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, but also more. Chiefly because the narrative and illustrations run alongside a parallel narrative made up entirely of quotations from a motley of writers, philosphers, thinkers...Joyce, Twain, Rilke, Woolf, Whitman, Maxim Gorky, Aristotle, Carlyle, Hobbes etc.

For instance, when Jack contemplates a difficult decision and daunting task for the future, Mark Twain comes in to advise:
tender handed, stroke a nettle
and it stings for its pains
Grip it like a man of mettle
And soft as silk it remains
- "The Calm Confidence of a Christian" from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
And when Jack returns home, having come full circle and knowing full well that nothing has really changed (except himself), there are these lines by Matthew Arnold signaling a contentment with just being alive:
It is no small thing
To have enjoyed the sun
To have lived light in the spring
To have loved, to have thought, to have done
- from "Empodecles on Etna"
And so, in turn, I quote here these passages from Jack's story for anyone who is feeling just that bit more battered and lost than usual. Let Monday begin!

3 comments:

said...

yah - the dark clouds, they've become my close companions.

except that there is no concept of "Let Monday begin" for me at the moment.

wahj said...

"Jack returns home, having come full circle and knowing full well that nothing has really changed (except himself)"

It's the classic story arc of all myths - the hero ends where he/she begins, a new equilibrium is reached, and true revival and salvation comes from within.

Ru: maybe the clouds are so dark because (paradoxically) you no longer have Mondays to punctuate the rhythm of life with a black hole that sucks up all the bad karma of the week. Surely Sunday is less bittersweet and precious without a corresponding Monday = )

ampulets said...

ru, wahj: i guess the weekly rhythms are also like a substitute for a purpose. you know, kind of a cycle substituting a line! either way, each creates the reality/illusion (depending on how you want to look at life on earth) of "going somewhere", or an obvious path to take? but dark clouds, they sometimes just cover up everything - circle, line, the edge of a cliff...or just maybe, a field of nice green grass.

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