Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Magnificent Silence & Place des Vosges

It's a fine sunny morning in Place des Vosges. Today, without warning, R.K. died in a half empty flat. My name is Lid (spelt without the L), a phony professor, of sorts: well aware of R.K.'s successes and failures, but not my own. I was first on the scene. His last words? 'Milo! Come in out of the rain! You'll catch your death!' Some might say, 'Poor R. K.' Others may say: 'He was due the alternative.' 'Was he juggling carving knives? Not that he had any.' 'He was born with a face you longed to thump.'

Was he a dark-eyed tomboy? No. Blue eyes, blond hair (until he was born), with an amicable anxious face. His humour could make a deceased person breathless; carry one to a place of exclusion, where nothing exists except a magnificent silence. The occasional tear, but no self-pity. A suggestion of despair, but no fresh disasters.

He was once dismissed as a mixture of repressed emotion and personable; it can never be said he was an actor; that his life was built around performance. His life was unactable. He once admitted, 'Life is a hateful comedy. If only I had been a character in a book I should have remained unseen, unheard, implausible. I pleased many people by being elsewhere. I openly scorned charm radiated by others; though I softened my abrasive edge prior to my demise.'

'My happiest time? The mid-1960s. Why? Without exhaustion I was loquacious, a loose cannon. I recall talking to people about matters I knew little of myself. The absurd conversing with the absurd. Deliberation. Animation. Vanity. Inescapable.'

His father (short on humour, long in the leg) was a nun. He died in 1998 after falling off a donkey in the family home and swallowing the donkey's false teeth. The donkey died in jail after being caught interfering with a hen. R.K.'s mother (short in the leg, long on humour) was a recluse who enjoyed walking the fields, lanes and roads near her home with her dog, Plato. A woman fond of reciting Aristotle's Law of Non-Contradiction to those she encountered.

When R.K. reached seventy his world moved progressively inward. He moved to Paris in 2006 and lived in a fish tank in a French Restaurant on the Rue Saint-Marc. A year later he relocated (with two fish) to a soup bowl in a café on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. The fact that neither R.K. nor the fish spoke French did not provoke despair, tension, or yearnings. For entertainment they listened, and danced, to a gramophone recording of barnyard noises.

Reflections: A blind man once told me he could tell by my voice that I had never observed or understood anything in my life with any degree of clarity. When I asked him, 'What does it mean to be a good person?' he smiled. 'That is hard to define. But one should know, and not need to inquire of another human being.' 


Joni James said...

I'd like to grow old avoiding that fish tank, or soup bowl. But, as I am living in an over crowded noisy city that gramophone sounds quite nice!

Ronnie Kerrigan said...

Hi Joni,

I congratulate your son on his imaginative talents. Creativity is now part of his life and I wish him good luck with his projects.

Nothing surpasses the inner glow one feels when one completes something fresh to our satisfaction - esp. when exhausted.

I'm going back to the fish tank. I feel like a fish out of water.

With every best wish