A so-far faithful reader, a friend of my husband’s, told him that the blog didn’t have any dark side. It’s true, and my husband’s response was to point out the name of the blog. But since year two doesn’t seem any more likely to explore angst than year one, I’ve been wondering why not.
Reading Peter Schjeldahl I thought maybe I found an answer. I appreciate the way he thinks and writes about art, and a long time ago I wrote down his words “Determinedly political art is generally depressing. It forfeits creativity’s inclination to praise life.”
And the other day with tea, I read in “Let’s See: Writings on Art from The New Yorker” Schjeldahl’s review of the (then) new folk art museum in New York. He recommended the museum to new artists, saying they could learn a lot from it. Starting with the “indispensability of delight.”
Those could be my operating principles, and today, the day before her 129th birthday – I get a chance to say I really learned this from Virginia Woolf – particularly from her letters and diaries. Day after day she recorded the ordinary world in language lively from her effort to observe.
VW is my favorite practitioner of praising life – whether describing an overstrained waistcoat button flying across a room with “impetuosity” or having “tea from bright blue cups under the pink light of a giant hollyhock,” I love when she tosses off comments about ordinary life. When she writes that “homecomings are so upheaving” or reveals she likes human nature best “all candied over with art,” she nurtures me. And she speaks always of her work – of the effort and the reward.
In 1924 she wrote that the core of her life “is this complete comfort” with her husband Leonard. She wrote, “The immense success of our life is, I think, that our treasure is hid away; or rather in such common things that nothing can touch it.”
Things did touch it, of course, but that doesn’t negate the hours of happiness. The dark side is always with us, but so is the light.
Like plants that want to grow, no matter what – broken buds blooming.