The Circular Ruins

24 Apr

Prince Quote


In an effort to rid myself yet again of the mother of all ear worms, Prince’s Purple Rain, I turned this morning to Jacqueline du Pré’s performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, which decision brought with it a whole other unanticipated spectrum of matters to do with grief and loss.

My late husband, Arnie, decided in his seventies to take up the cello. This was after the guitar and the ukulele, and contiguous with Hebrew lessons and teaching Shakespeare’s comedies at U3A.

His cello playing was excruciatingly awful, yet he bent to his task as if he were Yo-Yo Ma.

I can’t hear a cello without seeing Arnie, lost in the joyous experience of wresting music from the instrument, so engrossed in his mission as to be entirely oblivious to the tortuously mangled sound he actually produced.

There is the manner in which we mourn for the ones we loved but did not know, such as Prince, Bowie, and for me James Gandolfini whom I still miss, and when Leonard Cohen leaves I don’t know what I’ll do. And then there is the manner in which we grieve for our partners. The former is a but a pale imitation of  the latter, nevertheless, it has the power to evoke the devastating loss of far more powerful and intimate loves.

Each of us finds our own way to live with our grieving, because what else is there to do?  Yesterday I found myself re-reading a story by Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins, about a man who dreams a man, only to understand that he himself is the product of yet another man’s dream. Borges begins with a quote from Through the Looking Glass VI : And if he left off dreaming about you…

I read this story again because it was one that delighted Arnie, he read it to me many times. I wanted to read it through his eyes, I wanted to understand why it so delighted him.

I wanted to be with him again. Which of course, I can never be.

The enormity of loss and grief makes itself evident intermittently. Were it otherwise, it would be intolerable. We must get through this thing called life.

But if we leave off dreaming about them…?










13 Responses to “The Circular Ruins”

  1. diannaart April 24, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    We learn to live with our grief… I’m not sure about “getting through life” – clever line from Prince.

    However, ‘getting through’ means arriving somewhere and I do not believe in any afterlife where all our f*ck-ups, mistakes and bad luck are swept away.

    If there is such an after-life – what remains of us?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 24, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      I haven’t worked all this out yet but I like the idea of reincarnation 🐸

      Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter April 24, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

        Are you sure?

        Liked by 1 person

      • diannaart April 24, 2016 at 11:43 pm #


        So long as we get to remember our previous life stuff-ups, else, if we reincarnate as the same personality , we’ll just be reinventing the wheel over and over and over…. which rather sounds like hell. (And a Stephen King series I read)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 25, 2016 at 7:00 am #

          I think the point is we improve so we have more fun next time?
          Failure to improve means demotion, I think…


          • diannaart April 25, 2016 at 9:14 am #

            Yeah but, no but

            don’t we learn from our mistakes?


            • doug quixote April 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

              We do; but we make make other mistakes . . .

              If Jennifer is on the right track, we may well get it right by the time the Universe ends.


  2. doug quixote April 24, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Do I dream you, Guinevere, or do you dream me?

    Or is it a mutual dreaming zeitgeist? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • townsvilleblog April 25, 2016 at 1:49 am #

      I believe we are in constant grieving for lost relationships all through our lives, it may not be immediately apparent but when you think of any lost love a slight pain in the heart region reminds us of what we have lost.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson April 25, 2016 at 7:02 am #

        I think you’re right, Townsville. The important ones, anyway. There’s some people I’m gad to be rid of


      • LSWCHP May 1, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

        Oh yes. Wiser words have never been written. The skeletons of lost relationships will be rattling in my closet until the day I die. So many lost opportunities. So much pain, distant and near, and so much regret.

        Google for “Man of Constant Sorrow”. Setting aside the gender, I think that sopg applies to all of us, one way or another.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 25, 2016 at 7:07 am #

      I think the latter, DQ ⭐️


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