some of these correspondences are physically challenging because they are in envelopes, which require both dexterity and sinisterity, but even greater is the mental challenge, for i may be in a rut, a very deep rut, created by what i perceive as too much left-brain driving, first as a computer programmer, now trying to grapple with the root cause of greenhouse gases. this series, so far, is very much a right-brain adventure. which may be just the thing i need.
to be fair the first three books were published 1991-1993, when climate concerns were very rarefied. an inconvenient truth was more than a decade and a half away. the second three came out 2001-2003. even now, two decades later, the current american presidential debate between romney and obama hasn’t mentioned climate change (according to tom rand). in 1991 i had two kids in diapers, had a BA in EngLit, had moved. climate change was far, far from my mind. i hadn’t started programming yet. i would garden and bake bread and weave first. and write a novel. magic realism was more my style than the real magic of cell phones and nuclear reactors. however, while griffin and sabine may each be personally concerned, i doubt climate change would be mentioned in these missives to each other. meanwhile, the author has ‘resumed painting full-time, and opened a studio-gallery, ‘The Forgetting Room’, on Saltspring Island.’
griffin and sabine fall in love, though half a world apart, through postal art and an extraordinary correspondence. perhaps the needs for love and creativity trump all else, including our species’ welfare, nay, very survival. when i need love and to love others, i need it right now, right here. climate change is more insidious. it does not appear to be happening right now, right here. and if it were, what can any one do? whereas anyone can create love.
i went looking for the golden mean by annabel lyon at my public library, but it was out. or did i mean the golden mean by nick bantock, the librarian asked, the third in a series that starts with griffin and sabine? coincidence? the creative-higher-power-believing part of me thinks ‘no’; the random-we’re-on-our-own part of me thinks ‘yes’.
yes or no, this story is an example of beauty and human creative genius and restlessness. the universe is vast but your three-and-a-half pounds of consciousness is vaster; it’s a challenging paradox, eh? as martha graham says, ‘because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique…. [there is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. there is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive….’
griffin writes to sabine that ‘i have had little trust in my perception of reality for a while now and accepting an impossibility comes as a relief.’ i know the feeling. it’s kinda like touching the untouchable. impossible? nah, you just gotta have faith. a couple of months later he writes: ‘i was clinging to logic like a life buoy. now, in the flick of an eye i’m trying to follow intuition’ and many miles, many months later, ‘there are no rules any more’. turn the page. that one.
the art of correspondence by snail mail is waning. i once wrote prolifically on many things, from rag paper to ripped-open doughnut bags. i once mailed a letter no larger than the stamp itself (amazingly, it was delivered). i used to draw and collage on my letters and envelopes. old habits die hard, even with changes in technology (specifically, the waxing of email), changes in my body (down to one eye, one finger), changes period. email has become my art form. the words are i mine or referenced, but i steal the images; i tried referencing them, but at the time it was unpleasing–maybe i’ll try again. the first six are the book covers of the griffin and sabine double trilogy; the next is a detail from the garden of earthly delights by hieronymus bosch, painted between 1480 and 1490. and now for something completely different. john coltrane, seeped in blue. an etching by peter milton (les belles et la bete ii: before the hunt). from the internet, but first from my imagination. does griffin imagine sabine? does bantock imagine griffin? does it matter? perhaps it does.
months later griffin (this image is from griffin and sabine, i think, though we’re now in a different book) writes, ‘once again i’ve underestimated someone who could tell me exactly what i needed to know.’ the surprise, often delight, sometimes serendipity, rarely discomfort, answers to questions, yet more questions, more wonder, more surprise, more delight, more serendipity, even discomfort, keeps me hoping for more…. in lit, in life. turn the page.