How To Read: BLGF, pp. 799 – 800

Self loves reading early in the morning, because the day hasn’t closed in yet, and so many new ideas pop into her head as she reads.  It’s different at night.  She’s tired, her brain is fogged up with everything she’s seen and done that day.

Self is gradually resuming her reading of the 1,000-plus pages of BLGF.  The only way to get through it is to skip.  Self would never do this with any other book.  But this book weighs at least 10 lbs. And moreover is due back to the library in a few days.  And self has used up all her allowed renewals.

She had to leave it behind when she went to LA to visit son.  Then, when she got back, she had to unpack and do laundry and do all the usual stuff.

Now, she’s on p. 799, the beginning of another chapter:  Skoplje.

The indefatigable Gerda (German wife of Serbian guide, Constantine) has finally taken her leave of RW and her pleasant husband.  Since Gerda is so unpleasant and so controlling, no one is sad.  RW’s husband makes a speech about Gerda.  It goes thus:

Gerda has no sense of process . . .  She wants the result without doing any of the work that goes to make it . . .  She wants to enjoy motherhood without taking care of her children, without training them in good manners or giving them a calm atmosphere.  She wants to be our friend, to be so close to us in friendship that we will ask her to travel about the country with us, but she does not make the slightest effort to like us, or even to conceal that she dislikes us.  She is angry when you are paid such little respect as comes your way because you are a well-known writer, she feels it ought to come her way also, though she has never written any books.  She is angry because we have some money.  She feels that it might just as well belong to her.  That our possession of this money has something to do with my work in the City and my family’s work in Burma never occurs to her.  For her the money might as easily have been attached to her as to us by a movement as simple as that which pastes a label on a trunk . . .  If she could get hold of our money by killing us, and would not be punished for it, I think she would do it, not out of cruelty, but out of blankness.  Since she denies the reality of process, she would only envisage our death, which would be a great convenience to her, and not our dying, which would be a great inconvenience to us.  She has shut herself off from the possibility of feeling mercy, since pain is a process and not a result.

Self had no idea she would encounter such eloquence in a book of this nature, which purports to be about Serbia/Bosnia/Slovenia/Macedonia and so forth.  She’s hugely enjoying the writing, though.

Next up:  Plain of Kossovo I, Plain of Kossovo II, Montenegro

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