Saturday, August 30, 2008

Doris Lessing and Staying on the Chair

Dear Doris Lessing,

I've been listening to your interview on the Nobel site. Fascinating I think.

Doris Lessing Documentary it's called, I believe. I like all the parts, but my favorite is there at the end, round about minute 7:53.

"What you don't know about is old age, you see." That's how you start the segment. Oh, my yes. That is so true. "Being old, believe me, is hard work," you conclude. But I want to talk to you about that statement in the middle regarding falling off a chair. Your statement was like a painting. Maybe this one. Of course the model in the chair isn't old enough. But still. Staying aboard a chair in the world of art is challenging. I think, though, you were speaking of dying. Passing on and crashing down off a chair or anywhere really, because you are done here.

Purple Robe and Anemones, or more correctly, Robe violette et Anemones, by Matisse is interesting. Not much chair there. She looks a bit like she is hovering, back there behind the anemones. She is relaxed there. But, I agree with you, the project of staying seated becomes more and more disconcerting and demanding of a great deal of concentration as we age.

The anemone, I read, is, "a short-lived flower (from Greek anemos, wind), it is a symbol in antiquity of the transitory. It is the flower of Adonis, whom Venus transformed into a reddish-purple anemone. In Christian symbolism, anemones (as well as roses and marguerites) signify the blood shed by the saints."

Shshshshshhs. "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." (Isaiah 40)

So, Doris, is that what you are talking about? Just trying to stay on the chair becomes, after we lose the blush, after we fade the lush, after the wither, after we start gasping just getting up, a matter of life and death.

That, I think is what the young find hard to imagine.

In April of 1998, Lydia Delectorskaya fell off her chair. She was 87 and sitting in Paris. It is said that she single-handedly kept Matisse on his chair for the last ten years of his life that slipped to the rug in 1954. She was a far cry, that Thursday in '98, from the young woman we see in this purple robe, sniffing anemones. But we are all a far cry from what we were, aren't we Doris?

What shall we cry, after all, when all flesh is as grass? I guess we cry, "Could you help me stay in the chair, just one more day?" Then we shift on the cushions.

Best, always,



cadh 8 said...

GReat one. Love this post. Beautiful and profound.

brd said...

Thanks cadh8. Looking forward to your next quilt post!!!