I get together with three old friends and play bridge once a month. No one is especially good, some are worse than others, and the bidding systems never seem to get straightened out. If bids are like smoke signals, they tend to get obscured by the constant table talk. Often after a bid, a puzzled look comes over my partner’s face followed by a single word,
To which there are various haiku like responses like this one:
Well, a deep subject, full of water or empty.
To which, in renga like fashion, another player may add:
Whale, big and white — Moby Dick
And my dear deceased father-in-law would say:
Well, it’s as cold as a well digger’s ass, in Winter.
Three lines, two things combine, to make One. Haiku is the divine Act of Creation.
Later, in one of those random acts of spontaneous discovery, I was looking into the ever expanding internet well, and its random contributions, when I came across the name Gao Xingjian. He is the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
Curious, I went back to the well and began reading from his writings. Here is a partial quote from a short poem of six lines. I have included the first three as it seems appropriate her.
God …Gao Xingjian, Wandering Spirit and Metaphysical Thoughts
Well, reading on, Nobel being on my mind, I discovered that this year’s Nobel Prize for literature went to Annie Ernaux. The explanation, (for one must always explain one’s self), “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”
Well, my daughter and I were talking the other day about Virginia Woolf. She, who suffered from depression most of her life, and took her life by suicide one spring day in March. Filling her coat pockets with stones and wading into the River Ouse in Sussex. Well, the river is not fast, it is not wide, the process of taking one’s life could not have been easy.
Well, that leads to this thought:
Well, a deep depression, sometimes dug by hand.
One can read Virginia Woolf and one should. Along with James Joyce, she developed the “stream of consciousness” point of view. Gertrude Stein called it “continuing present.” Her writing style influenced other writers such as William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway. She is perhaps, the very first modern “feminist” writer, though my daughter and I disagree on what that term means. (Sappho was the first recorded feminist, that is if one neglects Eve who convinced Adam it was time to leave Paradise and work for a living.)
I have modified a few of her quotes as follows:
Well, I find it more difficult to murder a phantom, than reality.
Well, a woman has no country, the world is my country.
On the outskirts of agony, some fellow sits, watching, pointing.
History does not record, but anonymous, was most often a woman.
Well, nothing really happens, unless it is written and recorded.
As for her final thought, who knows? Possibly this:
Someone has to die, that the rest of others should value it more.
Wasn’t it Virginia Slims cigarettes that came up with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way baby.”
Virginia Woolf, RIP.