Dear friends and readers,
Hartnett says a strange thing: in the last part of my life, ghost accumulate. Since 1989, I have lived with one quiescent, and now I live with a second as part of my heart’s blood.
A poem by David Hartnett
In the Winter Valley
At dusk in the winter valley the train went slow;
The carriage felt empty enough for apparitions,
His parents’ perhaps who died a year ago-
On either side of the railway, ranked and stiff,
Espaliered pears paraded, frozen snow
Clotting their tiered branches. Down a far cliff
In the second half of life there are no ghosts,
The world is vast and tired and someone else’s.
Coldly the pear trees bloomed on their black posts.
The train quickened.
These flowers for the nine African-American families and friends who lost a beloved — and who are not by any means all who have been affected forevermore by social murder this week.
As I traveled to and fro I listened to Simon Slater’s wonderful reading of Wolf Hall (he goes tenaciously into the mind of anyone listening for real): as with Hilary Mantel’s other novels she presents centrally a character deeply grief-stricken at the death of someone cared for: Thomas Cromwell; he loses wife, daughters, Wolsey. Again and again the experience is presented as a ghost or ghostly presence come to be with Cromwell – in his dreams, as he stands in shadows and cries, passing memories other characters arouse. In her Black Book this is very strong, but it’s equally present in Thomas Cromwell’s mind: sometimes he’s comforted, sometimes the anguish is too sharp.
This is an aspect of her fiction which has been ignored in the talk about her books as well as the film adaptation; in her Black Book, in her memoir she fought to “give up her ghosts,” in her historical fiction she allows such memories to be guiding spirits of the central presence. She shows how the living left — her hero — becomes another person over time and experience as the dead intertwine inside, memories make them behave certain ways and they find solace, other people to connect to, be with all in this continuum.
I am glad for GLBT people who can marry who they love now. See my The US Supreme Court did three good things this week!
Scotus blog: same-sex marriage
On preventing discrimination that is hard to prove: disparate impact;
On Obamacare: keeping the benefits available to millions of health care insurance (such as the system is, it’s the system we must change to a single payer like medicare)