Firstly, let me start by saying I've had a little writer's block with this post, so if this comes out a little disjointed, it's because I've resolved to write it no matter what!
I've read this one before, but I saw it peeking out on the shelf, and I loved it so much the first time, and even more the second time. I thought, when I bought it, it might be another rock 'n' roll memoir, I hadn't realised Patti Smith was a writer, too, and an artist. She's very spiritual, very mystical, and her understanding of "signs" and the workings of the universe (to an extent, of course, she's only human) appealed to me greatly a few days ago. I believe in signs, in Fate, and this past week has been full of strange symbols and dreams. I imagine it's the change of the seasons, which we're beginning to see. Although, one day it is mild and sunny, the next full of snow, so who knows what's happening! But I've been troubled with strange dreams (one, last night; I was helping a friend, who I haven't seen or spoken to in years move house, and I accidentally packed her suitcases with ash, not realising until someone else pointed it out. And, as with dreams, this was completely normal, just a simple mistake). So, it was good to read Patti Smith.
She's very intrigued by Catholic symbolism, collecting postcards and little statues of various saints, and I think I had probably remembered that subconsciously when I picked it out. Last week, I attended a Catholic funeral (no one close to me), and I was looking at the stained glass windows, watching the rituals with incense and holy water, the chants and prayers, so perhaps that's what triggered it. Also, I mentioned a few posts ago it was the anniversary of my friend's death, which I was thinking about more than I let on, so perhaps that's also had an affect on me. Thinking of him, and by extension Buddhism, then the Catholic funeral, the strange dreams of ashes, fire, and birds, all at the time when it's more spring than winter, but not one or the other, well, it's bound to have an affect. Or perhaps it was the full moon last night!
|Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe.|
It was good to read it again, and I hope everyone, if they get the chance, checks it out. She writes about her love and intense connection with Robert Mapplethorpe, and how their relationship waxes and wanes, as well as her development as a writer and artist in New York in the sixties and seventies, the people she meets, how she survives on a meagre income, and her breakthrough as a performer. It's wonderful, and certainly nothing like all the ghost-written rock 'n' roll memoirs that are about. She is one of the best writers we've got right now; a genius with words. She's in complete possession of them, if that makes any sense, and she expresses herself and describes the times with precision and poetry. Beautiful, stunning writer.
Whilst reading it, I've enjoyed reacquainting myself with Patti: listening to old albums, putting pictures of her on Tumblr, taking about the book and the music with my mum, who introduced me to her in the first place. I remember the first time I listened to a song by her - Gloria, the dark introduction, "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" meaning she was taking responsibility for her own actions, although when I first heard it I thought it was a rejection of the church, or of Christianity altogether (which appealed to me simply because I was so young and everything that was shocking or subversive was a good thing). She's a wonderful person, a perfect writer, and very much needed in our time.
What to read next, though: that is the question. In this slightly disjointed (though not in a bad way), vaguely confused time, I'm drawn all over the place. I want to avoid 'themed-reading' for a while (though don't doubt for a second I haven't enjoyed French February, and I'll write more on this tomorrow), and I want to go where my heart takes me. Where that is, though, is the question. Part of me wants to read contemporary literature: I want to finally read The Marriage Plot and A Casual Vacancy, whilst another part of me is drawing me back. Reading Milton was an absolute dream, and I enjoyed, as always, that connection with the past. I want to go even further back, read Piers the Ploughman by William Langland (14th Century), or The Song of Roland (11th Century), The Poems of Catullus (1st century), or Ovid (author of Metamorphoses and born on 20th March 43BC: the 20th March is the first day of spring in 2013, so there's a good sign!). At the same time, I want to finish The Second Sex, and I want to finish The Faerie Queene sooner rather than later, and all these pulls are equal. I want to read Zola, read For a Night of Love or A Love Episode (the eighth in the 'Rougon Macquart' cyle).
It seems to me I should finish what I've started, and work on The Second Sex (which I love) and finish The Faerie Queene (which you know I don't) rather than drag it out as much as it is dragging out. But there is so much I want to read right now... I want to take pictures, too, but the light is frustrating me. I've started taking more interest in other people's photography, which is another change: I always used to, but I got so into my own that I didn't have time. But, once again, my Tumblr has all sorts of pictures on it, not just my own. I'm looking forward to some colour, more visible change, and at the moment I feel I'm taking pictures of the same things. That said, I get attached to certain things; the tree at the front of the house, the chimney on the house behind, and, when there is some, the light coming through the trees. Taking these pictures all the time is, actually, a good thing. By September I'll have been obsessing over this tree and that chimney for a year, and the pictures will show each change in the season. I'm looking forward to seeing that, a whole year complete. It was my intention.
Anyway, that's that! Glad to have written this, I hate feeling I can't write something. As for reading, for now I'm just going to work on The Second Sex and The Faerie Queene and rejoice when the latter is finished. I want so much to start The Canterbury Tales, but reading it alongside FQ would be too much.
In the next few days I'll write my L'Assommoir post, and the French February wrap-up. It has been such a good month and I've enjoyed it, which I thought I'd better add because I'm not sure of the tone of this post! As I say, I have had uncomfortable dreams and odd signs, and it is a little unsettling, but I think they can be interpreted in a positive way. Plus I have my constant, which I love and guard. I'm looking forward to spring.