John Bayley in his memoir about life with Iris Murdoch, Elegy for Iris, provides remarks on “the best part of love and marriage” and exemplifies for us the kind appreciation for the partner’s distinction that is a hallmark of affection.
We were together because we were comforted and reassured by the solitariness each saw and was aware of in the other.
That these remarks are to be found in a chapter devoted in large part to recounting the viewing of pictures and the impact of specific paintings gives an aesthetic dimension to these existentialist ponderings. There is something about picture viewing that suits the sentiment being expressed and becomes a fine figure to carry over into quotidian experience. And so the chapter ends with these musings:
So married life began. And the joys of solitude. No contradiction was involved. The one went perfectly with with the other. To feel oneself held and cherished and accompanied, and yet to be alone. To be closely and physically entwined, and yet feel solitude’s friendly presence, as warm and undesolating as contiguity itself.
And it is only in the slowed down reading accompanying the transcription that I realize that he wrote “contiguity” and not “contingency”.
And so for day 670