Monday, October 12, 2009

Dealing with the every day


I have a tendency to re-read favorite books over and over again whether or not they are actually good for my mental well-being. Right now I'm reading The Bell Jar for the umpteenth time. Last week I watched a movie that in some ways corresponded to some similar aspects, for me anyway. The movie was Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, directed by Chantal Akerman and starring Delphine Seyrig. It was roughly 3 hours and 25 minutes long, the majority of which she is preparing meals, folding clothes, bathing, washing dishes, waiting on her son. Your typical mundane chores. At first I found the film absolutely maddening, maybe because she turned the lights on and off even if she was just leaving the room for a minute. After a while I got used to the routine and felt less like screaming. Oh, yeah, between all the household chores, she would "service" male customers, that was all done with subtly so not horribly offensive for the sensitive film watcher.

I am really glad I watched it so closely though, because I noticed the moment when there was a snag in her very regimented routine. This was the beginning of the unraveling of her life and it progresses right up to the end. The cinematography, acting and story were all incredible but you must be in just the right frame of mind to watch this.

My favorite part of The Bell Jar that seemed to correspond so well with the film is as follows from Chapter Eleven
"The reason I hadn't washed my clothes or my hair was because it seemed so silly. I saw the year stretching ahead like a series of bright, white boxes, and separating one box from another was sleep, like a black shade. Only for me, the long perspective
of shades that set off one box from the next had suddenly snapped up, and I could see day after day glaring ahead of me like a white, broad, infinitely desolate avenue. It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next. It made me tired just to think of it. I wanted to do everything once and for all and be done with it."

I hope I haven't depressed anyone who taken the time to read such a long, rambling post.

7 comments:

Kate Gabrielle said...

I haven't seen this movie yet, and I actually haven't read The Bell Jar yet (I know!!) but after reading your post I definitely want to! That quote from the book sums up how I've been feeling lately, so much so that it's kind of eerie.

Cara said...

I had never heard of the film but would certainly like to view it!! The quote hit me right in the face! I think we can all relate to that from time to time. I hope you don't mind me borrowing the quote for my blog!!?? It follows on from a few of my posts of late.

holly aka golly said...

Funny that you should mention the part about not bathing and washing hair - that was the part of that resonated with me too. The unravelling. Haven't seen the movie, but I'm intrigued. Did you read Girl Interrupted?

vivienne strauss said...

wow, thanks for reading such a long post, Kate, Cara & Holly aka Golly! I have read Girl, Interrupted, really great book as well. Cara, you don't have to borrow it from me, I borrowed it from Sylvia :)

A good book to read to recover from The Bell Jar is Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" :D

rachel said...

The Bell Jar is one of my very favorite books. I seem to like 'depressing' books and movies... but I think The Bell Jar is just so beautifully written.

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

I think this was a great post and the film sounds fascinating in a studied sort of way. I must find it! Thanks Viv.

vivienne strauss said...

thanks for commenting Rachel - I agree, somehow it isn't nearly as compelling to read beautiful writing of someone's happiness...

thanks for commenting Barbara, I just watched Last Night at Maud's, also really good and not depressing at all :)