Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I have not been so wholly taken by one piece of work as I have been for the past few days reading and re-reading An Imaginary life by David Malouf. The child, who is the child? Is he real, is he a dream that Ovid has created in his desperation of exile. Each moment for Ovid is new and can teach him a lesson; capturing the child, becoming the child. Has Ovid become the child and regressed to his youth in insanity? Or is he alive and well, living in the wanders of the abyss with a little boy who has not yet reached his man hood, his peak of life. The ending is so simple, along with the beginning. Each is beautiful and full of light and lovely language. The child is all consuming for Ovid, he is friends with the child, tries to teach him about life and finally he is learning from the child. The transformation for Ovid himself was in his journey with his child. It was in his growth and in his own mental and physical transformations that were similar to the Tales From Ovid. This book was a personal journey that is relatable to our own lives today in the relationships of the family and tribal members. The story behind this book is fanciful and plays with the idea of imagination and connecting with nature, which is a theme that is present still today. But it was so much more and holds so many more lessons about life and learning that are like nothing I have read before.
For me, this book has touched different heart strings which have already been plucked through the duration of this class. While reading the Trojan Women by Euripides the queen of Troy has to put her grandson in his grave. Make him at home in his father’s shield; his last resting place now that Troy has fallen to Achilles and the Greek Kings. In An Imaginary Life, the old woman must also watch her grandson and care for him because he is on the verge of dying. However, he does not die and becomes well in the end it is her son that dies. The old woman is forced to bury her son and watch him die before her; being possessed by an animal spirit. Why is it that watching a child die before their time and before their parents is one of the hardest losses of human life? Life, it means to live with one’s self and the generations before and after, or so my grandmother tells me. But when I asked her what would cause her the most pain in this world she told me that loosing her daughter would be the hardest test of her life. To have to bury her body and watch her life end before hers is close to being over. That would be the hardest for any mother to endure. But I wonder if the pain of a mother losing a child is the same for a father? Is the suffering of men the same suffering of women?