Monday 10 April 2017

The Inner Life

She admits to having periodically suffered from depression. That might have made some people seek an analyst. But friends speak of Brookner's 'rich interior life'. And she doesn't find depression a thing to feel depressed by.
'Depression can be quite fruitful if it leads to thoughtfulness, inwardness. Certainly my parents' deaths, certainly disappointments in love have led to periods, yes, quite long periods of depression - but they haven't been entirely defeating, you see, they've been quite nourishing. Because you're very receptive when you're in that state: in fact, it's invaluable.'
She had no inner life, it seemed. This to him was phenomenal, he to whom the inner life was all.
Strangers (2009), Ch. 16

Mrs Gardner, who, crucially, Sturgis does not fall in love with - this is no second Katy Gibb - is the woman in Strangers with, phenomenally, no inner life. Hers is a 'vagrant personality'; she has a 'curious blitheness'. As such she is quite beyond the pale. But Brookner's allegiances are always to be doubted. Blitheness is evidently a significant word:
Didn't Plato say the unexamined life is not worth living?  [Brookner] gives the faintest smile. 'Plato could be wrong too. I think the unexamined life is much better. Much more comfortable.' So you wish you had been…  'Blithe…' It rolls off her tongue, wrapped in longing. A lovely word, I say.  'It's an old-fashioned word. You don't hear it much.'  So you envy the blithe?  'Oh yes.'

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