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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Do graves and lists speak?

Poignant - Middle English poinant from Early French poindre: to prick. Latin pungere: to prick, sting.

Or, these days, says my Penguin dicker, causing or renewing distress; painfully sad. But surely such sadness is not entirely negative; might it also be associated with distant contentment, glancing appreciation of beauty, whispered reassurances?

One hundred years after the event Younger Daughter (Occasional Speeder), hubbie and son visited the WW1 cemeteries in northern France and Belgium. What were they expecting from these inanimate tombstones and well-kept lawns? One justification is the number of tombstones, enough to make anyone reflect. But OS's family is comparatively young and more than three generations have rolled by since the guns went quiet.

Did they go there to experience poignancy - to cause or renew distress for themselves? My immediate answer was no, then I paused. How about sub-consciously? And in doing so find tranquillity? I haven't asked. Wouldn't.

Lucy and I have been kidding about blog contact lists. Well, that's how it started. But three of the names on my list belong to the dead. I guess their listings are my equivalent of the Menin Gate, I want to hang on to them. The least I can do given the way their owners entertained me in life.

Illness may have intervened with others, or I may have offended them into silence. Either way they wrote to me at Tone Deaf and, before that, Works Well. That gesture deserves marking.

Do I retain their names to cause or renew distress - to me? It's quite possible. I suspect several suffered when I went "too far". Is their continued listing poignant? Are my reasons painfully sad? Vaguely defined words always have most potential.

4 comments:

Avus said...

Many (most) of my blog contacts have drifted away, whence I do not know. Have they died or have they been seduced by the "dark side" (Facebook et al) or simply given up on an interest that seemed to blossom in the mid to late first decade of this century? Even my daughter (HHB blogger) has stopped blogging, but puts an occasional image and comment on "Instagram". That name says it all - instantaneous and succint and only operated via an iphone, it sums up busy lives with no time or inclination to delve into the "spaciousness" of blogging..

One blogger I know has died because her daughter wrote the last message on the blog, which gave a strange sense of satisfaction, closure....and poignancy. Blog is http://walkingprescott.blogspot.co.uk/ and the entry is worth reading. The blogger was a feisty old lady when I "met" her. Obviously retired and spent her days exploring her town (Prescott, USA) with interesting photos and pithy comments. Her health deteriorated and she entered a care home - still she found things there to blog about. Then she died and her daughter's last message on that blog revealed that all her mother's adult life she had been, in partnership with her late husband, a film and documentary maker - a lifetime's habit and interest continued into her declining years and gave her and us satisfaction and and involvement. So I can now say a belated "R.I.P. Julie"

Roderick Robinson said...

Avus: I too have mulled over the shrinking blogosphere. My initial conclusion was that those who kept going were those who liked writing. JUST THAT.

Yes they also liked the friendships, the revelations both in their world and elsewhere, the need to communicate, reacting to (usually terrible) events, preaching their general beliefs, and the rest. But the glue that held all this together was the sheer (no doubt egotistical) pleasure to be gained from knowing something and setting about rendering it in words. This tendency - mania? - is rare. For one thing it takes time and most people have better things to do. For another, those who don't enjoy writing for the sake of writing often become discouraged after a year or two when they believe they've sucked themselves dry.

Well, it was a nice theory and (alas) typically self-serving. But it wasn't and isn't true. For one thing it left out those who use blog writing as an extension of their major interest; my brother Sir Hugh loves walking through the Great Outdoors and his blog is predominantly a diary of this activity.

For another I know of truly talented writers (you'll have to abide by my judgement here) who clearly had the ability to write interestingly about anything and were born to exploit blogging, yet who slid off into Facebook land.

And there are other exceptions.

Note the mania implicit in this comment. I've written 150 words about a theory which I've then - sort of - disproved. See what I mean when I say "writing about anything".

I'm particularly impressed by Julie who managed to continue blogging in a care home. Self-interest on my part, of course

Lucy said...

Somehow and unforgivably, I missed this one. I like how you've stitched it all together.

I wonder about this great movement towards researching and connecting with WW1 stuff. It sometimes seems rather manufactured, part of this age's wallowing in and need to appropriate vicarious emotion (which might not only be of this age). For those more directly touched, who lived through it, or like my parents, for whom the horror and sorrow was a part of their childhoods, if not personally remembered then a terrible shadow, it was simply too painful and difficult to dwell on too much. But then perhaps it's a good thing that subsequent generations are revisiting it.

Julie - GrannyJ - was one of my earliest and best blogging friends, she wasn't in the least flowery or sentimental or wordsmithy at all, just really engaged and interested in recording the detail and the everyday in photos - you forget the visual aspect of blogging - and straightforward words; her absence of self-pity and continuing determination to stay committed and connected with life was a tonic.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: My instinctive reaction towards WW1 predated the manufactured phase, was born decades ago. First it was sadness then it became visceral. There's one film clip that always gets to me: a hatless Tommy is struggling along a trench and tooks up towards the camera. On his back is what I take to be a dead body though it could be a body that's still living - just. My wishes, conditioned by the War Requiem, want that inert body to be German since that would signify the unity of the trenches that crossed nationalistic boundaries.

The awfulness of WW1, compared with WW2, is not so much that all those men died but that they died betrayed - and knew it. The transition from gay recruiting optimism to the realisation that they'd become cyphers before they died!. To die is one thing, to die futilely is another. Civilisation had been blown away and people were waiting, on tenterhooks though they didn't know it, for Wilfred Owen.