Friday, January 27, 2006

What Summer is.

Hazel running
Today Hazel had a near perfect summer day: clear skies, Chocolate Fish cafe for delicious food, wading in the sea, finding a pack of slightly older girls and adventurously exploring rocks near the lapping waves as the tide encroached with them, me reading her the riotous bacchanal at the end of Prince Caspian to her while Iris slept, and she's out tonight with Sean seeing a band in the botanical gardens.

Iris didn't have as great a day, she was wakeful last night and while she did enjoy the beach she woke from her afternoon sleep very hot to the touch and terribly unhappy.

My day varied with their days. I loved the beach, though Iris was a bit clingy. I was enlightened when the doctor said "Ears" and "Augmentin". This evening, as Hazel and Iris ate dinner outside with Edward. While Sean talked to the expensive, but we hope very thorough, painter. I drove tensely around and around in rush hour suburbia looking for an open chemist thinking about Edward's and my great uncle Francis Skinner.

Francis fell in with an extreme crowd at university and dropped out to live in a scuzzy flat and work in a factory, probably because he and his beloved Wittgenstein thought that living in the Real World rather than academia was an important part of his education. He caught TB or something and died, during, but not in, the war. He down-played how sick he was and wouldn't hear of his parents visiting because it was just after Cambridge got bombed.

My great-grandmother held Wittgenstein somewhat responsible for Francis's death, after all, he was supposed to be the lecturer in the group. After Francis died Wittgenstein asked the family burn his letters unread, and they did. They asked him to burn Francis's in return, but he didn't. I think he missed Francis too much to burn them. The asymmetry and subsequent publishing of some of Francis's letters probably would have much annoyed my great-grandmother, but I'm glad of it. After my masters degree, when I was dropping out of philosophy myself I found reading my great-uncle grappling with the same torrid affair with the same subject was a wonderful relief and justification.

In his passionate and loving letters to Wittgenstein, Francis voices and re-voices the intention to keep thinking philosophical thoughts and remain able to speak his mind on complex matters. Stopping and starting up the hill in a queue of cars I was wondering if that is partly what this blog is for, making sure I don't lose vocabulary, concepts, or written modes of expression through disuse, am I worried that the sparkling seaside full of wise children's advice could be a factory to me?

"Don't touch coloured jellyfish, they sting. The clear ones with a little white are safe."
stinging jellyfish in waterstinging jellyfish on sand
PS There's a quite likely more accurate story about Francis Skinner on wikipedia, same tropes, almost entirely different details.


Blogger Alan said...

Well, yours is the first blog I've read than mentions Wittgenstein. Very high brow indeed. :-)

3:00 PM  
Blogger susan said...

I like semi-colons too.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Hi Susan, spotted your blog through a link of Martha's. Love reading your blog - highly entertaining!!

10:16 AM  
Blogger susan said...

Entertaining and high brow. Good gracious, maybe I've peaked.

Thank you.

11:05 PM  

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