New Year

Aldeburgh sunrise

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
it’s a new life….
And I’m feeling good

Welcome, bright new year.
It’s the year of the Horse in less than 3 weeks, so I consult my chinese horoscope, which says, ‘It should be a good year – health and wealth abound.’
It also says that ‘working with blood (i.e. surgery, butchery, soldiers) as well as spirituality (priests, philosophers)’ is in my favour.

I should donate more blood, network with the local butchers.

New year is as good a time as any for resolutions. Do you (gentle reader) have one?
Mine is to stretch out of my comfort zone – with work, writing, reading, and all the rest. I’m going to learn to swim properly – like Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer. But without the womanizing or cheezy lines. And without the constant refrain of ‘I drank too much last night’.
Though I did.

I’m also going to read my backlog of books in translation (mostly) from and other stories. Last year they sent me Deborah Levy’s collection of short stories, Black Vodka, which I loved. I then read her novel, Swimming Home, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2012. Swimming again. Burt Lancaster said he was swimming home, from pool to pool, all the way to his house. It wasn’t a happy story, though, as far as i remember.
Back to Levy, I discover that she trained as a playwright. I found a recording of a radio documentary she wrote, called The Glass Piano about the true story of a Bavarian princess who believed she had swallowed a glass grand piano – and worried about it shattering inside her. She moved carefully, with difficulty, sideways, though the palace corridors.
As well as imagining how it would feel, to believe as the princess did, Levy talks to psychoanalyst Susie Orbach, ER consultant Dr Fiona Lecky and historian Erin Sullivan, who researched people’s understanding of sadness. She talks to Levy about the connection between melancholy and the delusion about being made of glass.

The more I discover about Levy, the more she interests me.
She says:
In my earliest twenties, I think I believed that theatre could change the world. Later, I discovered that my true interest in the theatre was that it was a place to connect with discomfort rather than prescriptions for how we might live. It took me a while to understand that when theatre uses all the languages that make it a unique form to write for (text, sound, design, lights, the spaces between actors, film and video), it is a place to make visual poetry, a place to show the human nervous system in a state of disquiet…
[Levy, Plays 1]

When asked about why she wrote in different forms (play, novel, short story, poetry, radio documentary) Levy replied that the forms chose her. Stories demand different forms.
In Pillow Talk in Europe and Other Places, she says:

“Be sure to enjoy language, experiment with ways of talking, be exuberant even when you don’t feel like it because language can make your world a better place to live.”

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