Monday, 17 June 2013
Corsica Bound: Diary of Departure: 8
Di wanders the village taking photos of lemons while I linger in bed, reading and drinking coffee. I look around me at the wooden ceiling, the thick ochre walls that we roughly hand painted. Outside I can hear our neigbours returning from church. Across the valley the odd car horn, the cry of a shepherd and the obliging response from his flock. Church bells ring and there is a silence like you’ve never heard. Then, the bray of a donkey, some twittering bird song and here’s Di, in a ponytail and a summer dress; looking freshly minted and beautiful. She brings more coffee, a smile and a suggestion for the day’s activities: “a pootle, then beach late afternoon for a swim and sundowners at ‘Le Sindbad’.”
That’s hard to resist.
For a lazy lunch I fry yesterday’s tomato salad and add it to spaghetti and sauté some stale bread in oil and Parmesan for cheesy croutons. Top with basil. Bravo!
Off to the coast again, to Bodri beach that we’ve rechristened ‘Christmas Beach’ as that’s where we head for our Xmas lunch whenever we are here in December.
We swim and sleep; managing to be last towels on the beach, always a victory of sorts. Salty and serene we stay for dinner at ‘Le Sindbad’ Bodri’s only beach side restaurant on Bodri; essentially a shack. Di: cheese and ham omelet with avocado salad, me: moules et frite. I think we overdid the sun today. Home to stinging baths and much lotion.
I finish ‘Winter Journal’. Auster’s powerful prose, his self examination of a writer’s life, working towards (or backwards) to a moment in 1978 where the frustrated poet has what he calls the ‘scalding, epiphanic moment of clarity’ as he breaks through his writer’s block and discovers a new way of seeing, a new way of writing. His breathless recognition of this moment of grace is exhilarating. He’s watching dancers at rehearsal. The dancers perform and then pause whilst the choreographer explains what has just been seen. These spoken intrusions start to annoy Auster:
“The dancers saved you… bodies in motion, followed by words, beauty followed by meaningless noise, joy followed by boredom, and at a certain point something began to open up inside you, you found yourself falling through the rift between world and word, the chasm that divides human life from our capacity to understand or express the truth of human life, and for reasons that still confound you, this sudden fall through the empty, unbounded air filled you with a sensation of freedom and happiness. And by the time the performance was over, you were no longer blocked, no longer burdened by the doubts that had been weighing down on you for the past year… The next day you begin to write… the first work of your second incarnation as a writer… the bridge to everything you have written in the years since then.”
Sometimes there’s beauty in the mystery of things… you don’t always need to join the dots. We were all once wide-eyed children, ever inquisitive, in awe of the world. Maybe once we’ve stopped questioning our parents and teachers, once we’ve benefited from their answers, we come to recognize what lies beyond knowledge, and surrender once more to the pleasures of life’s mysteries.
The cynics might suggest that many of us will eventually fudge faith, hedging our bets in the hope of a hereafter; something beyond. Or perhaps, as we age and get closer to closing the circle we simply learn to wonder again. Maybe that’s what leads us stumbling inevitably towards the idea of faith. That surrender is the benefit of a certain kind of wisdom, a certain kind of understanding. There’s surely comfort there, a kind of homecoming.
Call it faith.
Call it sublimation.
Call it willful innocence.
Call it willful ignorance.
Perhaps ignorance is bliss…
There are some things beyond our understanding.
Call them mysteries, maybe miracles.
From this very terrace my mate Chris has pointed his phone at the heavens and told me what constellations we were looking at. Chris is pragmatic; he’s never studied astronomy. Chris has got an ‘app’. While there are still some things that an iPhone app cannot decipher, decode, or demystify, there will always be faith. I’m not religious; call me an idealist, but I for one celebrate that kind of ignorance.
Christ, here come those church bells again…
Ipod: Taken with the idea that you don’t necessarily need to understand to get meaning, I go for sound over substance and play Gianmaria Testa’s ‘Il Valzer di un Giorno’, a spellbinding mix of Italian poetry and folk song. I don’t speak Italian, but guided by Auster’s idea of world over word I think I recognize, if not understand, the profundity of what’s offered.
Songs of the day: "Come al Cielo Gli Aeroplani' & 'Gli Amanti di Roma'