I'd prepared everything, the candles, the pillows on the floor, the sheepskin blanket in the middle of the room. It looked perfect. Like the perfect place to do a 'connecting with your yoni' workshop. The only thing missing was the bowl in the middle of the carpet. No wonder members were asking 'Where do I throw my keys?' and 'Are we actually going to talk about art?'.
Moments later we sat silently staring into our bowls of chilli. The group thought no doubt being: If I stare at this coriander leaf long enough, will I become invisible? Is my head be big enough? And fuck, I wish this really were a key party. Then at least I'd know what to do...
Milly popped the chat cherry by asking me to reveal why I had suggested Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking as a first book to discuss. Given my recent loss, it was impossible to talk about the book on a purely theoretical note. I dove straight into the emotional impact it had on me and hoped it would seem neither indulgent nor inappropriate. Everyone had a story to share, and the experience of loss was analysed from all angles, including the thought or fear, What if I never experience that kind of grief? Will I ever experience this kind of a relationship? Some touched upon the depth of Joan and John's love, their entwined lives, and the very complex mix of envy, desire and longing one might experience for such a lifelong bond.
Irvin Yalom, author of The Schopenhauer Cure, and When Nietzsche Wept would have been proud of this group. Members listened with empathy and compassion and trusted others with their own experience of grief and loss.
As for Boudu - our shaggy, friendly friend Boudu, the 'most perfect tramp I've every seen' - what was he all about? Thanks to Dave and his well remembered film studies from years gone by, we got the social background of the movie and a quick lesson in Renoir's vision and political beliefs. Dave, you rock the Renoir thing. It was brilliant to hear how everyone had experienced watching this movie. Although completely revolutionary at the time in terms of camera angles and panning, it made some of us - those not used to watching old classics - a bit twitchy.
Juliet pointed out how modern the story really was and how countless, lesser remakes, including the 1986 movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills, had been made since. And Ian you're so right, most of the remakes have been in Hollywood by directors who weren't happy to credit the viewers with intelligence. Milly put it succinctly: you cannot change someone's story. And so Boudu leaves his short-lived Bourgeois life behind and fishes himself out of the river downstream. He grabs clothes off an old scarecrow and sits under a tree happily feasting on a just-begged-for hunk of bread. La fin.
Thanks to everyone for contributing. I look forward to the next Kensal Review, where we will stroke our chins, perhaps more pretend-savants, than the real wise guys, and enthuse about Modern British sculpture and the work of Paul Auster.
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