Friday, December 18, 2009

Live and Let Live

 "London gravesites double up to accommodate the dead."  AARP Bulletin, December 2009.

I might never have guessed that the same person who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife wrote Her Fearful Symmetry. I like this aspect of Audrey Niffenegger's work - and I prefer the tour-de-force pace of The Time Traveler's Wife. That book gave me a narrative ride I hadn't had in years. I marveled at this debut novel; I marveled at her careful building of this "fractured" world; I marveled mostly at the regular clipping pace and rhythm of the language as the characters lived and hurtled through their world. I saw the film too, and liked it - though, typically, the two seemed only loosely related, similar siblings not identical twins. I appreciate the imagination of all artful image-makers.

What I also find fascinating in Her Fearful Symmetry is the explanation, if somehow appropriately thin, ethereal, of ghosts, of the relationship between energy and matter. The Chapter, Her Electrical Nature, for example - the lingering ghost discovering her powers, with concentrated focus, to affect electrical elements (dimming lights, etc.).

I love her choice of the Beatles' lyric at the beginning. Such a perfect opener for this book. "She said, 'I know what it's like to be dead. I know what it is to be sad.' And she's making me feel like I've never been born."

There is a lot of coming and going, a lot of clinging and cleaving, lingering, a lot of nesting boxes; juxtaposed with the open-air, old, historically dignified cemetary, complete with devoted supporters and knowledgeable tour guides. The underground tube, maps, getting lost amidst crowds, moving alone in a world crowded with ghosts, and love urging personalities out of nesting boxes into the sunlight of the street. To simply move, get out of bed, energies must be summoned, focused, to act, and we come to know our powers. We must also come to accept that so much is beyond what we may expect or believe. Add this to the consistently growing exploration of the "ghost-world," seen on television, in movies, in books.

Know what it means to be dead?
Know what it means to live?
Be careful what we wish for.
We live and learn. Tea and toast. Love.

What I enjoy about the logic of life is that answers always come. Some details I missed lingered, because they were keys to the nature and change of ghost to animation, in the story. How did Elspeth's ghost get back to the flat from the apartment, if she couldn't leave the flat? Valentina's much quicker way of solving the mystery of escape, freedom, made me smile. Be open. Open wide. Feel the new sensations. Trust. Do. Live and let die.

I was born the 3rd of triplets to a mother who was an identical twin. (Mom died in October, so I have to get used to saying, past tense, "was.") Her spirit lives, her energy presence as I knew her, lingers.  The multiple mirror creation in my life made me even more curious about this "twin powers" story. Open your eyes. See what's inside them.

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