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Archive for May 2nd, 2014

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1975-76: Pallisers 6:12 (Phineas Finn episode): I wonder how many viewers have noticed that most of the time in all 26 Palliser films Barbara Murray as Madame Max wears black? when she becomes Mrs Finn, she adopts a dark violet, then back to black when Lady Glencora dies

It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep. They suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be . . . — James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

Friends and readers,

I am confronted with a problem. How to carry on writing this diary and political blog without being false? I like diary writing — I love to read diaries and letters, partly because I’m lonely and now without Jim except for presences on the Net I keep in contact with alone most of the time but for my cats. I cheer myself up by writing, reaching out, I seem to live more and fully by writing about something as then I think it out, I feel it more accurately, and I have something to remember it with; I also feel a sense of empowerment through words however delusional this aspect of writing is.

I’ve begun re-reading Frances Burney D’Ablay’s voluminous (24+ volumes) life-writing (dtermined to go as far as I can through to the end!) and find in her the same impulses. She too is lonely in her case not because alone but because she feels she cannot tell her true thoughts to anyone; she does not even dare to put them down fully in her diary; even transient opinions of books would not be welcome and might be contradicted.

My problem is by doing this I might give the impression I’ve adjusted to Jim’s death unless I somehow bring that in. I don’t want to do that as I feel it is a disservice to generations of widowed people who have been presented in public media as adjusted, or even happy, and in various ways from ugly and mean points of view (widows as if they are salaciously wanting sex or eager for power) or narrowly materialistically, with a drive to enforce “normalcy” or the appearance of non-widowed life on them — by demanding they remarry, or telling stories of their supposedly contented social lives. Doubtless before this century and even now there are people who longed to divorce and feel now freed of some burden (however paradoxically they might miss the person), but the death will not make them contented; they just carry on, now maybe feeling less oppressed.

If I fall silent about him, that might give this impression. Yet if I keep talking about this it will be tiresome, obsessive, just a round-and-round circle and useless and grinding down to me too. Some of the worst aspects of public writing in all times is false upbeatness, unreal heroisms and optimisms without justifications — these enable evils to carry on. I’m probably not in danger of adding to this kind of thing. What to do? how to go about continuing? I could try for George Eliot’s listing of things she did after Lewes died, just lists, but reflection is utterly imbricated into the content of what I write. I must not leave the Admiral out.

I will have to find out some way of telling of my days without leaving any impression that shores up the the erasure of the reality that a huge percentage of older women live alone, the erasure of the reality that they are not assimilated into heterosexual familial patterns (often because on a basis of casual interaction the heterosexuals shun them); the presentations of them as creating these new un-maimed lives — I wish I could capture Helen Mirren’s wry wise tone as Amy to her husband Jack’s idea they will be “new people” if they move to the sea-side, as she repeated his lilting tone on “new people.” Right (Last Orders has become a basic book and film for me). “New people?” What nonsense. All the reasons offered on behalf of the idea you are not disabled by your life’s bad luck.

At the same time not go overboard in trying to prevent such reactions or sum-ups in the minds of the few who read this blog, trust them not to re-articulate anything I say in ways that will add to the isolation, hardship, sense of aloneness and all else widowed people endure. I just won’t try to pass — we can call it somehow making it apparent I am not almost passing.

Perhaps a recitation of my days and nights activities when I feel a need or desire to, should do it, as long as I keep close to the topic and on occasion if I want to write something political I’ll do the same.

The admiral did download for me all the Palliser films and I have taken so many snaps from them, I should have plenty of pictures to begin with.

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A still I have as a gravator for my study of the Palliser films: Lady Mary Palliser (Kate Nicholls) looking over to her mother’s grave

Sylvia

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