Thich Nhat Hanh in Understanding Our Mind writes “Every time a negative formation is recognized it looses some of its strength.” Edmund White in the Afterward to Our Paris: Sketches from Memory describes Hubert Sorin’s Mémoires dessinées with perhaps an unintended touch of misrecognition and a most welcome shot of strength in a brief memoir recollecting in part the ailing body of the now dead lover:
The figures, no longer his petits bonhommes, were now drawn with a hieratic sophistication, as though Aubrey Beardsley had gone pharaonic. The words, which switched blithely in mid-sentence from English to French, revealed a sensitivity to social nuance which reminds us that in French malicieux means “sly” and malin means “clever”; the evil, or mal, in each word is the necessary spice for the savory dish. Hubert’s expectations of his readers were absurdly demanding — but no higher than those of most contemporary poets, I suppose.
“Mal” also means pain and there is a sustenance in recognizing suffering, our own and that of others. Suffering occurs very much in the present tense despite being reported at times in a sort of retrospective anticipation. It is felt now. Listen and recognize:
Despite the sometimes catty sound of this book [Our Paris, words by White, drawings by Sorin], I hope at least a few readers will recognize that its subtext is love. Hubert loved me with unwavering devotion. […] I loved him, too, in my cold, stinting, confused way.
“Pain” is bread. There’s something special in the breaking and something homeopathic in the crusts. Crusts: croûte. Not crumbs, les miettes. Interesting however how the crumb is the soft inner portion of the bread, la mie. Dry bread crumbles, scatters like a phalanx. Leaving grit ever so much like drying tears.
And so for day 13