Monday, June 29, 2015

Brodsky: On Grief and Reason

I bought a book by Joseph Brodsky.  First, I thought, I'd get it from the library, but then I was too lazy.  Amazon brought it in a day or two.  It's alright.  We will get quite a bit out of it.

It is a collection of essays:  "On Grief and Reason"

I read the first one to my husband:  "The Spoils of War".  We were hooked.  It begins with the cans of Corned Beef that were delivered by America to Leningrad after the siege.  Lovingly, Brodsky works his way through all kinds of objects that remained, the radio stations he could receive on the German radio, the movies.  He drew us in and hooked us.

My math teacher used to tell us of Care packages received after the war.  According to her, they received lard.  It seems strange to eat lard, but this would be something after the war.  My grandmother used to feed me bread with thick butter on top and then a layer of sugar.  That generation and the next could never stop trying to overfeed us.

Last night, I could not sleep because of the heat and change in weather and some things I am upset about.  I read all the way to the commencement address on "Boredom."  It is quite stark in some respects;  but he apologizes for that only very slightly.  He feels someone needs to tell the graduates about real life, about ennui, sadness, and boredom.  He says:  "lean in to it."  He gets that from Auden, he says.  (I have not read any Auden, but he comes up all the time.)

I found it comforting in the end because he gives the students a vision.  These years at school may well have been the best years of your life.  It helped me see, that it was always like that for me.  My years at school have been the best years because of friends and stimulation, learning, music, early out on hot days.

Life can't always be like that.  Deal with it.  Maybe get creative.  After that, I could go to sleep.

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