Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

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Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Posted @ 13:00One of those moments

They happen now and again: if they were not so rare they wouldn't be so special. But, just once in a while, there are moments, induced by some book, film, play or music, which move you to tears or some equally deep emotional response. It's happened to me; I've seen it happen to others.

You know the sort of thing: you see a film for the first time and it captures, beyond expectation, the circumstances of your life; you hear a song which excites and amazes; you read a passage in a book which sums up everything that's important at the time or simply moves you. It is sometimes a particular moment or phrase; at other times it is the tone and manner of the entire experience (often intimately entwined with the company in which you share the experience).

For me, such moments forever engrained in my memory and are shining gems in the otherwise dark caverns of my life. There are songs: Sam Cooke's Darling You Send Me, Shanghai's Solaris (from the Fallen Heroes album; particularly that "I don't know yet…"), Bruce Springtsteen's Jungleland (from the Born To Run album; particularly Clem Clemen's saxophone solo) and The Incredible String Band's Big Huge album. There's Molly Bloom breathing "Yes" and Rick & Elsa parting on the airport tarmac. There's Ophelia bidding "Goodnight, sweet ladies, goodnight" before she vanishes forever. There's Eliot's "Oh you who turn the wheel and look to windward; Consider Phlebus, who was once as tall and as beautiful as you". There's The Big Lebowski and Brother, Where Art Thou?. And Apocalypse Now and Fat City. There's an enamelled purse lid discovered at Sutton Hoo and now resident in the British Museum. There's the Dali's Gospel According To St. John. And Gieger's house in Gruyère. There's waking and seeing Les Dents De Midi at Evian from my bedroom window. There's watching the smiles and sheer talent of all those once hesitant, but now confident, performers who have appeared at the Tap & Spile. I could go on, but won't — I had prepared a long list but omitted the rest because they were too excessive or too personal.

You've all got your own examples: rare, beautiful, precious and unique. But, usually, these little epiphanies of ours happen at a great distance in time and space from the creators of the object or experience.

I, however, have been granted the rare privilege — not often experienced by the creators of such artefacts — of seeing someone so moved by something I did; and I was moved as well. To know that you've moved someone so directly and significantly is directly and significantly moving. My friend had "one of those moments" (soppy beggar was moved to tears) and it has also become one of my moments. I am humble and honoured to have had such an effect. I'm also amazed and shocked that I am capable of such things: cynical old bastard that I am, I presumed myself possessed of an immunity to causing such responses (I found ET manipulative, messianic and moronic; I can't watch the damn thing, I think it so poor and so blundering in its desire to evoke an emotional response). But, this little incident has made up for the hundreds of times I've played songs and felt that no-one was listening, or cared.

The identity of the "soppy beggar" and the song in question are a closely guarded secret, so don't ask.


Anonymous Rockhen said...

I know just what you mean. I have many such moments and memories. Many, many pieces of music, a few films, certain particular cliff top in Cornwall seems overpoweringly full of my childhood memories, for example, some sounds, smells, even. My memories are perhaps less lofty than yours...Seeing my daughter close our curtains one winter night, made me think of egg sandwiches (well pretending to be grown up and making my parents supper as a young child, which was often egg sandwiches and a packet of fondant fancies!Such a high life we lived!)
I agree that it is a rare privilege to realise that you have inspired or moved someone in a special way. I have had one or two experiences of that and it is an amazing and humbling moment. Human beings are pretty complex and do some terrible things but there is so much to celebrate. For all bad times, there are some very precious times which should be savoured and carefully preserved in your memory to be relieved and enjoyed whenever possible. Especially when times are not so good. Life is a lot of things, but sometimes it is very sweet and always, always, very precious.
OOps Woja, I went on a bit... :-)

Tue May 15, 08:04:00 pm BST 
Blogger Me said...

What a lovely, lovely essay! I find myself crying over the darndest things sometimes - and I don't even know why sometimes. I will have to think of my own list of things that I know evoke such a response. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

Wed Jun 06, 03:45:00 am BST 
Blogger EAPrez said...

Where are you? I miss reading your musings!

Mon Jul 16, 04:51:00 am BST 
Blogger Yar said...

I'm sitting here at work (obviously not working) and I find my eyes misting up just reading your essay Woja, and the responses. When I am moved I find it very difficult to maintain my composure. This is often embarrasing in public. I tear up at films (even those contrived to deliberately trip our emotions); I get red-eyed listening to songs with beautiful melodies, or sung by brave people (like the Dixey Chicks' song about not being ready to make nice) or about the tragedies of war, or any number of things; I get watery reading passages from poetry or even the news to my wife.

I am a real putz when it comes to such things. It's chemical; I have no control over my empathy. Thank you for bringing me to such as state hidden in my work cubicle.

Wed Aug 22, 10:05:00 pm BST 

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