LIFE MIRRORS ART; TIME SLIPPAGES AND GESTALT READING.BY STEVEN BENSON

Talking recently to a friend, whom I had not last seen for over twenty years,and with whom I was at a school, in the 1970s,  a school which was decidably UN gay-friendly, reminiscencing about whom we knew/thought was or was not gay:it struck me – concomitantly (re) reading Alain-Fournier’s “le Grand Meaulnes”(1913)-that certain dialogues and moments from the book were being replayed in my (semi-conscious)mind, in the past and now, in the present,and that there was a spectral and penumbrous world where art mirrored life, MY life and Seurel’s(and Alain-Fournier’s life, as the book is heavily autobiographical). Thus, my friend and I recalled schoolfriends we had been in love with, or at least infatuated by, neither of us, at the time, being able to voice , to ourselves(never mind to others) our sense of sexual difference, but internally KNOWING/SENSNG those by whom we were captivated and attracted. By one of those sebaldian serendipities(or, uncannily, more than that?) to which I am prone, I studied “Le Grand Meaulnes” for French “A” level, at school,from 1976-8, and , reading it again, a poignant, beautiful yet not slightly disturbing, experience,thirty-five years later,I see:

1. the adolescent self-disjunction of a gay teenager trying to grow up at that period:I was not able to express my adolescent yearnings openly and fully, even to myself, owing to external and internalised oppression; until I “came out” about 7 years after leaving school, serendipitously, again, at a time of (re)meeting this same friend. So I had a DELAYED adolescence in most ways.

2.But, in a further mirroring of life to art-as I have analysed in this posthttps://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/deconstructing-and-therefore-queeringmainly-in-second-broader-sense-see-earlier-differentiationsle-grand-meaulnesalain-fournier-by-steven-benson/-I, like Meaulnes, burst through time boundaries to have this delayed adolescence, so that I shifted against myself, like tectonic plates. This disjoint, evident, also, in the Alain-Fournier novel, between, simultaneously, NOT wanting to grow up and remain in a never-never land of childhood, AND the yearning to feel reciprocated love or just some idealised version of love(not even necessarily{fully} reciprocated)- is given an added twist/ slippage, in many lgbt people, by this very delay; which, whilst a result of societal oppression and prejudice, becomes an INTERNAL inconguence, mirroring that between one’s sense of self and the outside, hegemonic world. Typifying this is that most gay coming out stories have a postponed adolescence/emotional growing up:”Maurice”(Forster, with the additional POSTHUMOUS delay, so ironic) and “A Boys own story”(White) being two famous examples.

Pertinently to this post, I have just read a short piece on gestalt reading, based on Wolfgang Iser, one of whose tenets is that we are reading a(to some extent) different/differing text each time we re-read, because our (re)reading(s), based as they are on a barthian interchange/intersubjectivity between the author/narrator and the reader, will change , depending on our subjective experience at that very specific time of re-reading,and our shifting identities; to me, “Le grand Meaulnes”, whether Alain-Fournier was selfaware or not to realise it himself,is a massive exemplar of this:crossing time, identity and geographical spaces de facto and, again- each time you re-read it in another period of your life-displacing your sense of what the text means to you ; here is the essay on Iserhttp://www.drhanan.com/critics/iser.htm

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
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