Ah, conferences. Sitting in front of me, as I was up at a table on the podium before giving my paper, was a small dish of very unpalatable hard boiled sweets. Then that's some kind of water receptacle thingy behind, and in the front my folder (ferns! - not in the book, though, because people have written lots about ferns, containing my talk on lichen - which I was very happy to have given, and had really useful feedback ...which, for once, made me want to rush straight back into research and writing).
Thursday, February 14, 2019
There were a lot of heart shaped balloons and people rushing around with cellophane wrapped flower bouquets in New York today (oh, and a few slightly embarrassed people carrying stuffed bears), but the most remarkably ridiculous display (shades of Heliogabalus) was the truck offering samples of Ralph Lauren perfume somewhere on 6th Avenue. Central Park was exceptionally pretty for a Valentine's Day walk - frozen lakes, but warm enough not to feel frozen oneself.
Of course, if Valentine's Day went badly, and one decided to throw oneself in, through the thin ice, there are always plenty of ladders that one might be rescued with (and mystery inscriptions in the snow).
Yes, I know I'm at a conference, but I'm not going to be in NY and not enjoy a walk in Central Park.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
... in which we discover textual differences between the UK (as in the Penguin) edition of To the Lighthouse and the US one (as in the Harcourt) - not to mention a further aberration in the Everyman. This led to a discussion to textual editing and decisions about [non] authoritative texts. And yes, speaking of parentheses, there's even a difference about at least one stand-alone chapter-paragraph: square brackets [which in a moment of inspiration, though I expect others have been there, often, before me, I compared to a picture frame] in one, round parentheses in the other.
I found teaching this text extraordinarily difficult today. I knew Woolf toyed with considering it an "elegy;" it had never gripped me so painfully as being about personal loss as it did on this re-reading. Loss - not just of my mother, but yesterday, of an incredibly dear family friend, Gwen Pascal - my mother's best friend at school: born within two months of each other; died within three months of each other; my entrée (together with her husband Claude) into France - a woman who was incredibly kind to me, and also so much fun to be with. I'll write more about her soon.
It was when - a few hours before class - I came to Lily's thoughts about [the late] Mrs Ramsay that I pretty much lost it: how thinking of her was pretty safe, but that there was such a thing as "these emotions of the body ... It had seemed so safe, thinking of her. Ghost, air, nothingness, a thing you could play with easily and safely at any time of day or night, she had been that, and then suddenly she put her hand out and wrung the heart thus." Strange, perhaps, that describing the effects of a trigger should be a trigger ... Then add to that the fact that some of Mr Ramsay's ways of coping with loss and grief seem horribly close to those of my own father (though no tyrannical boat trips involved ...) ... it wasn't easy. Of course, professional composure returned: it always does. But literature can trip you up.
Monday, February 11, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Mostly, I was photographing lichen in Oxford this morning - with a view to have background slides to us for text in my paper for CAA next week (yes, they mostly be faded, of course, or partially so). But I went to the Covered Market (cheese! cheese!) to see what's there now - and found that there's a huge White Rabbit (consulting his pocket watch, of course), hanging from the rafters. How long has that been there?