Jun 262010

Hermann Broch

We didn’t go hiking today. Weather too threatening. Try again tomorrow. I got my hair cut yesterday. Darcy, the woman who does it, just got engaged. She’s 31, Italian, big-hipped, kind of pretty face, likes to snowmobile, still lives with her parents. She got engaged to a 42-year-old builder in Ballston Spa. They’ve been going out for three years. They’re getting married May 11 next year. She said he asked her while they were on a bike ride and she cried all the way home and didn’t have tissues and got mascara all over her shirtsleeve. He said, “At least your nose doesn’t run when you cry.” I find all this strange and mysterious and fascinating. She seems so sensible and yet romantic and doomed. Last fall they went to San Francisco together for a vacation. At a restaurant, she got hit on by a woman. She got very flustered.

And I was thinking of the romantic intensity of that love Bronte was describing, where you sort of dissolve yourself in the desires of the other and she/he in you. Whatever that means. This is mixed up in my head with the Hermann Broch novel I’m reading [The Sleepwalkers]–the love in there is much more modern, strange–two unknowing and unknowable creatures thrashing together, drawn together, repelled, irritated, misunderstanding each other, thinking about killing one another and making love without words. Gorgeous and sad. And not at all like the perfect service of Rochester and Jane, though it’s interesting how Esch (one of the main characters) longs for that kind of love. When he offers it, his lover doesn’t understand what he’s saying and he gets angry and hits her, then they decide to get married. Jesus!

I went to Borders with the boys this afternoon after school because it was raining. And I got Jane Eyre and I guess from a quick glance that Rochester’s name is Edward. I was sitting there reading at the end of the book, the last couple of pages, where Edward goes blind and she has to read for him and tell him what everything looks like. “Never did I weary of reading to him; never did I weary of conducting him where he wished to go; of doing for him what he wished to be done. And there was pleasure in these services, most full, most exquisite, even though sad–because he claimed these services without painful shame or damping humiliation. He loved me so truly that he knew no reluctance in profiting by my attendance; he felt I loved him so fondly, that to yield that attendance was to indulge my sweetest wishes.” I had forgotten this, how strong it is.

Oddly, the very last paragraph of the book quotes the same lines from the Book of Revelations that I use in my story “Bad News of the Heart.”


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