Collingwood’s Literary Clinic
I borrowed this idea from the following site:
The doctor – who indeed, has earned her doctorate in literature, invites “patients” to submit their ailments via email. She promptly responds to these complaints -generally among the lines of loneliness, or boredom – with a reading list. Although not as qualified, I, as an apprentice, hope to inaugurate my own clinic – firstly by offering prescriptions for some common maladies.
For the self-absorbed…..
Coping skills, understandably, have eroded in the past several weeks. Mishaps swell to travesties; with little annoyances like a leaking tap, or the obnoxious chewing of a family member, liable to spark outrage. The best means, in my opinion, to wrench oneself out of the undertow of self pity is through tragedy – specifically, the tragedy of others. Perspective is crucial; acquired commonly from travel to other parts of the world, or, in this case, stories of hardship. The most depressing novel I have encountered was written by a canadian author; Ann-Marie Macdonald. “Fall on your knees” slices deep into the life of a family; their routines rendered in rich, almost intoxicating, detail. Slowly, painfully, we are exposed to small sadnesses that bloom into a general air of misery – and, finally, a shock that cuts through your mind and reverberates, clanging, for a very, very long time (in fact I still feel it’s echoe now.) .I imagine the author as a surgeon. Peeling back layers of this family – of a single narrative that is told firstly from a general perspective, then.I remember a halloween decoration my family once owned; a painting that, from afar appeared to feature an ordinary married couple. But, as you stepped closer, the subjects morphed into a horrible . I loved to walk to and from this picture – in the same way I was consumed by this book. Read it.
For those lacking in stimulating conversation….
In the course of a normal pre-covid day, we encounter various people, and engage in various conversations – each as unique as the person we engaged with . At present, I am able to communicate with my family without words . We can predict the other person might say. Conversation, indeed, has staled. Most novels can offer some respite from this lack of stimulation. However, in her diaries, author Virginia Woolf manages not merely to talk at you – but with you. Her entries are intimate; flitting between piercing descriptions of the people she has encountered, what she is reading, doubts over her own work, or her plan for dinner, The mundane and the introspective intermingle; each moment, each feeling she experiences, treated with equal detail and intensity. She invites you into her brain – poses questions, sketches scenes, trails off in the midst of some grand philosophy…. . I scribble in the margins of my copy. I hear her; unearthing new entries, or new interpretations of entries daily. She converts to words the thoughts and sensations that we cannot define -reflecting all she observes as so, despite the years that divide her from us, her words are somehow eternally familiar.
For the uninspired….
The Green Dwarf is a compendium of stories by the Bronte children. Later, the three daughters would publish several classics between them that overshadows these first attempts. This volume, however, offers insight into their imaginations – unrefined by adult precision. Within it, I encountered voluble tales of knights and kidnapped princesses; set amongst a carefully crafted world, rich in romance and other such emotions. These full bodies tales were produced by minds unacquainted with the world. The Brontes resided in a quiet parsonage; their imaginations sustained by a vast library, and box of toy soldiers. To me, this demonstrates the enormous terrain one can travel within their minds. As a child, I spent the weekend at home; transfiguring a heap of blankets into a ship, or a fading nightdress into a magnificent ball gown. This book is a reminder of this ability.