Angular


[Vilhelm Hammershoi]

[A brief break from the Perception series].

As I mentioned in another place, my reluctance and bewilderment in this new field of mine continue, despite my apparent grasp of jargon. I am honestly interested in the topics raised by Gibson and his various respondents, and I am honestly interested in trying to figure out how this all links up with those concerns closer to my heart, but I often feel completely at sea. I also often wonder what on earth they are talking about (and likewise, if I even understand what I'm saying and writing). There is always a sense of something glimpsed -- something looming or intruding, but I can so rarely say what it is and why it is important or noticeable.

But all of that is vague. When my wonderful boyfriend wrote me from Bristol saying that he had begun reading To the Lighthouse, I decided to return to that text myself. And so now I can say that I feel like Lily Briscoe thinking of what Mr. Ramsay does. Mr. Ramsay with his splendid mind --

For if thought is like the keyboard of the piano, divided in so many notes, or like the alphabet is ranged in twenty-six letters all in order, then his splendid mind had no sort of difficulty in running over those letters one by one, firmly and accurately, until it had reached, say, the letter Q. He reached Q. Very few people in the whole of England ever reach Q.

As Mr. Ramsay thinks of how he has reached Q, how so few men will ever reach R, how some may even have the power to reach Z, he also sees his wife and son -- his beautiful wife and his son, the two who need his protection, the two he scolded that morning for thinking it would be fine tomorrow when it would not -- for thinking that they could go to the lighthouse when they could not.

And Mr. Ramsay has his work -- work described by his son Andrew as subject and object and the nature of reality. And when Lucy says she hasn't the faintest idea what that all means, Andrew tells her -- Think of a kitchen table then, when you're not there.

And Lucy thinks of that scrubbed kitchen table when she thinks of Mr. Ramsay's work -- his work in philosophy, one of our finest minds. And so, too, I think of the kitchen table.