Friday, November 07, 2008

Today is the day

by J J Cohen

I feel touched already.

Secretly we're all hoping the new president-elect will stop in and finger the Tiny Shriner for his cabinet (Secretary of Education and Festive Fezwear, anyone?)


Rob Wakeman said...

Thank you for this wonderful event! All of the papers (and the food, wine, and friends) were terrific. I was very moved (touched!) by Prof. Joy's passionate presentation on Stanley Spencer. I'm still thinking about the image of child Spencer smothering himself with Hilda's letters. It draws me back to Richard de Bury who writes "For the meaning of the voice perishes with the sound; truth latent in the mind is wisdom that is hid and treasure that is not seen; but truth which shines forth in books desires to manifest itself to every impressionable sense. It commends itself to the sight when it is read, to the hearing when it is heard, and moreover in a manner to the touch, when it suffers itself to be transcribed, bound, corrected, and preserved." Spencer's wish "to die folded in the pages of the book" (I think I got that right??) seems to echo here!

Anyway, it was a great afternoon. Congratulations!

Eileen Joy said...

Rob: thank you so much for your kind comments here [I will post my paper plus the images here tomorrow]. You are right about Spencer's wish to die, and be buried, within the pages of a book, and I am so appreciative of your sharing of the Richard de Bury quotation here. It is apropos to another Spencer bit from his notebooks. In one of his entries he drew a picture of himself sitting in bed with five books, open and face down, arranged in a line along his body [waist down to his feet]. One hand is caressing the cover of the book in front of him and the other is holding another book--some of the titles he scribbled on the book covers can barely be made out, but there is Donne and Wyatt. Underneath he writes, "Thus some nights I take a trip other nights I remain at one book." I have been thinking about this image/notebook entry a lot lately since I just finished a review of Lara Farina's wonderful book "Erotic Discourse in Early English Religious Writing," which attends to the embodied nature of reading practices, and also ever since I read these words of Montaigne, that, when reading,

"the soul disports itself, but the body, whose care I have not forgotten, remains inactive, and grows weary and sad."

I think Montaigne is wrong, or perhaps, simply had a more impoverished view of reading than did Richard de Bury or Spencer.