Monday, January 21, 2013


all the unwordable things

January is all about new beginnings, isn't it?  And hopefulness?  I am feeling particularly sanguine right now because I am so blissed out over the recent birth of my nephew Arlo.  I mean, life is so freaking miraculous and such a stupendous mystery from beginning to end, and it never seems more so than when we first meet a brand new member of the human race, a soul brought to our family fresh from the arms of the angels.

Can you tell I've been baby-gazing?  Such joy.

I'm also blissed out because I've been painting, which is my heart-of-hearts happy place, and when not painting, reading the diaries of artist and writer Emily Carr.  I've been slowly working my way through all of her published works and this is the latest installment.  It too is joy-making:

Hundreds and Thousands (Douglas & McIntyre reprint 2007), so fittingly named after the tiny British candies, a tumble of very colorful little words and diary entries, together forming a sweet life from the smallest of details.  This book is full of its own nonpareils.  I think I copied ten pages of notes from it into my own journal.  She goes right to the heart of everything I most care about, sharply, like an arrow on a valentine.  She spent her life searching for - and working for - what was real to her.  Nature, animals, spirituality, art.  Here is a taste:

"What's the good of trying to write?  It's all the unwordable things one wants to write about, just as it's all the unformable things one wants to paint - essence."  (p.165)

And another:

"It seems to me that a large part of painting is longing, a fluid movement ahead, a pouring forward towards the unknown, not a prying into things beyond but a steady pressing towards the barriers, an effort to be on hand when the barriers lift.  A picture is just an on-the-way thing, not something caught and static, something frozen in its tracks, but a joyous going, towards what?  We don't know.  Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same."  (p.384)

Near the end of the diaries she has to spend months recuperating from heart trouble, and in her enforced invalidism, concentrates on her writing instead of painting.  She is not bitter - quite the contrary - she says:

"...I find the earth lovely.  Autumn does not dismay me any more than does the early winter of my body.  Some can be active to a great age but enjoy little.  I have lived."  (p.407)

The Book of Small (Douglas & McIntyre reprint 2004) is next on my reading list.  A collection of her early memories of childhood in Victoria, B.C., I can't wait:

Aren't these book covers great?  There are more by her in this reprint series and the design makes me want to have them all.  Well, the writing, too.  God, she is so good.  I can't even say how good she is, that's how good she is.  Unwordable.  The Book of Small will be perfect to read now, with my mind on childhood and its ways, after visiting little Arlo.  What an amazing time this is.  How grateful I am for my family, and for my other family too, the one I build from books.

Congratulations on the birth of your new nephew! I'm catching up on your writing, having regrettably let my reading slip for a number of months. And I step back into a post that resonates completely with our family. I, too, have a new nephew (a grand nephew), a week old today. The joy that the new parents and the rest of the family are experiencing is best described in the title of your post as one of the "unwordable" things. Thanks for the new word! Back to your blog now...
Hi Chuck, good to hear from you again! I know that when I stop blogging for a while, people stop reading, and then I feel like crickets are chirping in response to whatever I write when I begin again. In other words, I appreciate your return visit! Congratulations on your own new family member, such a joy, isn't it...
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?