Acting

[J. Whistler: Symphony in Flesh Color and Pink: Portrait of Mrs. Frances Leyland]


Is there such a thing as reverse vertigo? I can't walk through these streets anymore without feeling a little dizzy, the distance of everything above me mysteriously growing more ominous and uncomfortable.

I'm into Volume II of Man Without Qualities and it has taken a slightly unexpected turn, resulting in passages like:

'When did we ever lie with our faces in the dust, so that it was bliss to be uplifted? Or try to imagine literally being seized by an idea--the moment you were to feel such a thing physically you'd have crossed the border into insanity! Every word demands to be taken literally, otherwise it decays into a lie; but one can't take words literally, or the world would turn into a madhouse! Some kind of grand intoxication rises out of this as a dim memory, and one wonders whether everything we experience may not be fragmented pieces torn from some ancient entity that was once put together wrong.'

This book is gaining in stature for me, and quickly moving to my highest tier of "books to be read throughout life." It's just so majestic and complicated, and such a joy to read.

And just as I (dangerously) identify with Frau Chauchat in Magic Mountain, there's an overwhelming part of me that wants to cast myself in the role of Agathe, Ulrich's sister. Come to think of it, I seem to always be drawn to the inwardly active, outwardly inactive heroines -- Lucy Snowe as well.

Perhaps its a craving for leisure and laziness, for a detachment from the bustle of things -- a craving for quiet, limpid days where thoughts don't have to come erratic and fiery, as forced through the narrow channel of a stifled and constricted mind, but can rather pool and swirl together, allowing for greater depth and reflection.

Or perhaps I would just like to experience more often the state of mind described here:

Sometimes they strolled in the garden, where winter had peeled the leaves from the bare shrubbery, exposing the earth beneath, swollen with rain. The sight was agonizing. The air was pallid, like something left too long under water. The garden was not large. The paths soon turned back on themselves. The state of mind induced in both of them by walking on these paths eddied in circles, as a rising current does behind a dam, When they returned to the house the rooms were dark and sheltered, and the windows resembled deep lighting shafts through which the day arrived with all the brittle delicacy of thinnest ivory.