I went out late on Saturday night for one last birthday hurrah with my friend, Nalini, to see Ken Loach's new film, The Angels' Share. It's dark and funny: a Loach social commentary, as expected. Some parts are absolutely hilarious; others completely heartbreaking. I was annoyed by the subtitles, however. I do understand that many Americans don't have an ear for Glaswegian accents, but Tim Rice's character spoke the Queen's English. Were the subtitles truly necessary? Would people have demanded refunds without subtitles? Has English become a foreign language? Why didn't they subtitle The Help? Are dialects too difficult? I was distracted and annoyed by the text. *sigh* That aside, one of the messages of the film is about making questionable life choices and paying the price for them; it's also about redemption, and giving people second (or third, or fourth) chances. What does it take to see and nurture a light in a lost person's soul?
I thought also about therapy last week (yes, I am still hanging in there for my husband's sake--don't ask). My husband wanted to talk about something going on in my life, but I declined. The therapist cannot keep up with me. EVER. She pisses me off. Hugely. It ends badly when I go there with her, always. She doesn't listen to me, I feel angry that I am paying $175/hour for someone not following what I am saying, and what I am saying gives access to part of myself that I have walled off. So. Not. Worth. It. Mark insisted, and I tried. I was giving a detail, slowly, articulately, and then she asked, immediately after I had said it, for exactly the information I had just given. I could not make this up. Mark then said, "She just told you that." Thank goodness, because I had smoke coming out of my ears and fire blazing out of my eyes. SERIOUSLY? She asked me THAT? Then she said that I am uncommonly perceptive and smart, and able to hang onto details better than most people. I hold people to my standard when they are not up to it. Maybe.
I asked my friend Katie about that today, and she agreed with the therapist that I am, when I am focused on something, an extremely sharp listener and very perceptive. I remember details for years if they are meaningful. She said that I am an excellent friend and expect my friends to be superlative; failure is betrayal. Well, yes and no. Katie and I have had fights. I know what her strengths are. I don't ask for things she cannot give. That's true for most of my friendships. I still think that a therapist, being paid $175/hour should have excellent listening skills. EXCELLENT ones. If they cannot remember what you said two seconds previously, where were they? Shopping in the grocery store in their head? Yes, people make mistakes, but this has been more than once. More than twice. It's a pattern, habitual. It's egregious. And annoying. So I won't go there, anymore.
Then today Nalini and Boreth suggested that I see the new Terence Malick film, To the Wonder. But I couldn't bring myself to go alone, after reading several reviews and thinking about how it's about failed love and aloneness. I have quite enough of that in my own life, thanks; even if there are exquisite scenes of Paris and Mont St.-Michel, and Ben Affleck is handsome, no. I knew that if I went alone, I would go to a place in myself that I don't want to visit. I cannot go there. It's walled off. Must. Leave. It. Alone. My dragon, my emotions, are sleeping. I
Never, never, never growing up did I think I would become Queen of a castle with many keeps and labyrinths. I love to stay out in the gardens, or in the library. Love the library. I enjoy having people in for tea and discussions, but nothing more.
I remember starting graduate school in my early 20's and thinking that the older graduate students were strangely hard and jaded. I see now that cynicism is the result of a life lived with disappointment, and finding one's way through the ruins, regardless. Not being unhappy, necessarily, but seeing the greys and blacks as well as the bright colors in the world, accepting them all, and finding peace with one's lot. It's more difficult some days than others. It's not as simple as being either an optimist or a pessimist. Most days I am both at once, before breakfast. I would be at home in Wonderland.
This being a roundabout way of saying I made a choice to avoid the aesthetic melancholy of Malick in favor of Pablo Larrain's film No, about the campaign to unseat Pinochet in a plebiscite. It was a thoughtful film, with its own difficult components of brutality and longing and beauty. I was a callow teen-ager when the events it described took place; I appreciated learning more about what happened then (albeit in this form, perhaps not the most reliable source).
I feel energized by the film to to go my union meeting on Wednesday; there is always a worthy fight. The film also reminded me of a Argentinian photograph I'd seen at the War/Photography exhibition, Marcelo Brodsky's Class Photo, 1960, that he'd annotated: some were disappeared; some had moved abroad; some refused to speak to him; some were married with kids; some were merely "VIVE" or alive. I stood in front of that photograph, reproduced in large format (117 x 174.6cm) and cried for almost half an hour. The damage wrought by war on a generation was like scars, inscribed in words. Terrifying, horrifying visual violence.
It seemed that the main character in No, Rene, dealt with his own trauma in many ways by not going there; by working in advertising; by refusing to look at the truth and atrocities of the dictatorship. Or maybe by looking, but by holding part of himself back? How can you begin to process so much pain? It reminds me of the feelings my friend Daniel describes upon reviewing card after card of deceased children, archived in his orphanage, in Beirut.
Sometimes, if you go there, you get lost. And don't come back.