Time Present & Time Past - T.S. Eliot & Ian Rankin
Thursday, November 12, 2015
|Ian Rankin - Vancouver 1997|
challenging, complex and compelling novel yet.” – Ian Rankin, Guardian (a
blurb on Kate Atkinson’s 2013 novel Life After Life).
It was while reading Ian Rankin’s 2013 John Rebus novel Saints of the Shadow Bible that I noticed that Rankin put in a reference to how
the dead died and came back to life and mentioned Atkinson’s novel. I cannot
put the exact citation here as I returned Saints of the Shadow Bible to my
Vancouver Public Library after paying a hefty $5.00 late charge.
I must diverge from the above (but will quickly connect
the dots) by mentioning that the Web has brought a Colt .45 Peacemaker type of
situation in what at one time was that distinguished writers, actors, musicians
and film directors at the top were protectedfrom us by impenetrable publicists whose sole
reason for existence was to prevent access.
But now many of these gifted Man (men) on the High Castle
(and women, too!) have been brought down and have become accessible in the same
way the Colt made the supreme gunslinger obsolete.
That web version of the Colt is the vastly more cerebral
Twitter (let’s deprecate here Facebook in its almost constant feline banality).
You see I am able to communicate with several writers
through Twitter. I can cite @GreatDismal (William Gibson), Manhattan’s Jerome
Charyn, London’s Robert Wilson, former Canadian Poet Laureate George Bowering,
my Mexican author friends Paco Taibo II and Homero Aridjis plus I have had a
couple of replies from that prolific tweeter Margaret Atwood.
I can happily report (and here is where I connect the
dots) that Ian Rankin is also on Twitter.
I sent him a link to my time blog and this was his reply:
piece. I often mull over TS Eliot's take on time in Four Quartets...
As you can imagine I was thrilled and I immediately corrected
that vacuum in my life of not having ever read Elliot’s The Four Quartets.
The first one Burnt
Norton begins like this:
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
There is an incident in Ian Rankin’s latest John Rebus
novel – Even Dogs
in the Wild
in which a dead person runs
away. I too have read Kate Atkinson’s LifeAfter Life
which happens to be one of the finest and at the same time most
disturbing novels I have read in years. To find out that Rankin and I share a
predilection for Atkinson feels good to me.
I have now noted (I had not seen any of the John Rebus TV
films until this week) that the producers were smart enough not to begin with
Rebus at the beginning but at Black &
Blue (two novels after Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke first appears in Black). They time-traveled with a good
reason as those who know (and I am one of them) know that Detective Sergeant
Siobhan Clarke turns the tables with John Rebus’s career.
As for me I am happily re-reading (over and over) those Four
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
|Rosa 'Brother Cadfael' November 11 2015|
Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. Because I was born in
the Southern Hemisphere most of my family was not affected directly by either
of the world wars or the subsequent wars that followed. On my mother’s side I
have a few Filipino relatives who weathered the Japanese occupation of Manila
in WW II. But there are no soldiers in my family who ever risked their lives.
The exception may have been one or two cousins of my Basque grandfather who fought
in the Spanish Civil War. One was shot by a firing squad.
So my experience of Remembrance Day is limited to the
many books I have read and have in my library about the world’s wars. My
experience in the Argentine Navy
preceded the Falklands’s War. The only pang of pain I ever felt about that war
was seeing on TV an Argentine Navy
Skyhawk skimming across the horizon during the Battle of Goose Green and
watching it suddenly explode into a puff. I had a few years before translated
from English into Spanish the operating and maintenance manuals for these
planes that had been purchased from the United States.
I told myself that the pilot officer had chosen to be a
career military man so his demise did
not affect me. I did not know him. But I knew his plane in great detail! I did feel sorry for all those Argentine conscripts who were ill-equipped, poorly trained and no match for a real professional army.
While walking in the debris of our garden (many of the
plants we have taken in a van to my daughter’s property in Lillooet) I noticed
one rose in bloom. In my shady garden this is a rare occurrence in November.
The rose is an English Rose called Brother Cadfael. Some years ago I took a
lovely gicleé scan of the rose to my
mentor Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. as a gift. A couple of months later I
visited him and noticed that over his guest my print had been handsomely framed
(he made the frame) and that it had a brass plaque with the name of the rose
and that I had given it to him.
died in 2013. I miss him. Rosa
Cadfael’ in bloom today is a fine remembrance of the man who helped me become
I sniffed at the rose and I said in my mind those
wonderful words from Luke 22:19-20 King
“…this do in remembrance of me.”
The Hand Mirror And My Mother's Bun
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
|Filomena de Irureta Goyena|
As I make
myself forward to a future that is so evidently a much shorter one than it once
was I find myself thinking of my past and all my friends and relatives that I
shared that past with. Increasingly those friends and relatives of more recent
times have suffered a much shorter prospectus for a future than mine.
come into my present house the first thing I see is a Sterling silver mirror on the front table. I
have affection for it because it was my mother’s.
we lived in a small house in my youth I believe I must have had a day-bed of
sorts. The fact is that I remember my mother getting ready to go to teach
school. She would be in front of her tocador
applying makeup and doing her hair. This was during the late 40s and early
50s. She had very straight hair which she hated. She wore a bun behind her much
like that of her contemporary, Eva Perón. For those who might not know, in
order to have that bun, you had to carefully wrap your long hair around an
artificial (it may have been real hair) doughnut-shaped bun. She often would
raise her voice in desperation when it didn’t work and she would have to try
again. She used the silver hand mirror to look at how the bun was going. Before
dealing with the bun she had a beautiful silver brush (which I also have) and
she would brush and brush her hair.
She often told me how her aunt Ventura would comb and comb her hair and
she (my mother as a very young girl) would cry in pain. Ventura
would state, “In order to be a lady one must learn to experience pain
after we arrived in Mexico in 1954 the bun disappeared and I never heard my
mother complain again.