Monday, February 2, 2015

Iris Murdoch



I thought I should read some Murdoch, so picked up The Sea, The Sea.(I'm a Lit Major, but a lazy one. For example, Re: War and Peace, I skipped the war bits, entirely.)

And like so many books, after a few pages, I tossed The Sea to the dungeon under the bed. Well, almost. Because in the tossing process, the book broke somewhere on the spine. Someone had pressed that spine so hard, it cracked open at page 85. Like a command.

I obeyed.

I have no idea what this passage alludes to, or how it moves the plot along, how it features in the machinations of the story. But if I believed in god, this would be my prayer.

(And what cheek, what gumption, I must have to edit Iris Murdoch. But cheek I have, and edit I did. Still, all the words are hers.)

I have feared the possibility of an overwhelmingly powerful pain-source in my life, and I have nursed myself so as not to suffer too much ... What a queer gamble our existence is. We decide to do A instead of B and then the two roads diverge utterly ... Only later one sees how much the fates differ. Yet what were the reasons for the choice. They may have been forgotten. Did one know what one was choosing? Certainly not. There are such chasms of might-have-beens in any human life.


27 comments:

  1. Some of us get to look over the ruins and maybe put some things together if only to understand. Others, not so much.

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  2. I suppose I should do the right thing -- read the whole damn book.

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  3. Why read the whole book when you can just tweet the thesis?

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  4. Tweet! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYhNljS5Sug

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  5. Are we not the masters of our fate? The captains of our ship? Guess not..

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  6. The central conundrum of existence, beautifully expressed. And a nice editing job too. ;-)

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  7. Coincidence that you were reading Murdoch just as I was reading her husband's obit? I've never read her books - let me know if you do. This humorous obit is worth reading. John and Iris were typical of the English academic class - no time to do housework, writing is more important. Quite right too.

    http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21641126-john-bayley-english-don-literary-critic-and-husband-iris-murdoch-died-january-12th

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    1. They were beastly slobs and hoarders, the both!

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  8. It's because of the obit in The Times that I picked up Murdoch. They sounded like such a funny, quirky couple. Off to read The Economist.

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  10. I read it a few years back...having seen the movie about her and realised I'd never read her.....and it is quite an oddity, a lot of boiled onions are consumed if memory serves!!

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  11. I was told it's too late for me to have a sex change or even to be queer. I must remain a queen forever as I am.

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  12. The only control we can exert is over ourselves.

    Of that, not so much.

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  13. That passage is damned depressing, at least to me. Maybe I'm just happy with the way my life came out, and the choices I've made, but I never look back at what-ifs. Even the financial what-ifs I ignore, because I'm quite certain that different choices could have made me millions and billions (or maybe not), and I'd rather not contemplate that. I've never read Iris Murdoch, and your well-edited quote convinces me that this, too, was a correct choice.

    Or, maybe, just "What William Sorlien Said."

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  14. "What a beautiful love story" was my thought after reading the obit ~ allowing each other to be who they are, content to be together or apart. I like a person like John Bayley who sees a lot of "gray area" and doesn't feel like the "experts" know all there is to know about what a writer meant or didn't mean. I've never read Iris Murdoch, and maybe the quote is all I need to be grateful that a woman who seemed to have so much going for her still wondered, or had her character wonder, what else could have been. I wish I didn't wonder, but I do in an attempt to go forward with fewer mistakes....

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  15. For me, I don't think I saw big decisions as big or even decisions, in the moment, at the time. I guess, ultimately, that means I'm a fatalist.

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  16. I know it is over-quoted, but perhaps here it is apropos:
    Last verse of Robert Frost's Road Not Taken--

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference

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  17. You have a way of sharing that makes us all want to say, "me too." I guess that's all I need to say.

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  18. Karin, really a coincidence that you were reading Murdoch just as I will review yesterday the film "Iris" with Judi Dench (as Murdoch), Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent. A beautiful film. I've never read Iris Murdoch before and I will buy The Sea.
    Your words make me think about the "conundrum of the existence", like said Karen.

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  19. I forgot to said that the film is very sad too and Kate Winslet performer Murdoch as young. Great interpretation of both artists.

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  20. Sonia is right - Iris was a really good film. I think you might have recommended it to us?

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  21. I saw "Iris" and didn't put two and two together until just now! It is a really good film. Yes, I have just confirmed my first thought of "what a beautiful love story." Time to see that one again~

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  22. I didn't know about this movie. All credit goes to you -- Sonia, Sharon, Marjie. Top of the Netflix queue. (I'm not a shill for Netflix, by the way. We have no engagement. It's just my sole source of films, other than youtube.)

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  23. I found "Iris" part one on youtube. Link : IRIS.
    I found also part 2, 3, 4, 5.... I hope there are anothers parts or maybe a full film.

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  24. Not only haven't I read it, seen it, or heard of it. After reading your post and the subsequent comments, I'm going to check it out. Thanks!

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  25. I haven't read Iris either. But I'll check it out.
    I always learn so much from your blog :-)

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