Look both ways, Charlotte

Welcome to Looking up/looking down—an occasional blog about writing, reading and watching the world.

Why looking up/looking down? Well, it’s something I like to do when I take photographs—and when I write, too. It reminds me that the world can’t be framed, that we can only ever see fragments, that there are infinitely more views to be seen and heard than we imagine.

I’m currently writing a novella, and I found my main character, an ageing expatriate Australian living in Paris, thinking this:

When you reach an age—you’ll know it when it comes—looking forward won’t do. Looking back, if you let it, can consume every breath you take. But looking up, looking down …  it’s here, in these oblique moments, that we truly live, where it’s possible to find joy.

Stop and smell the roses? Live in the present? Yes, I need to be reminded of that, even if it does come from someone who, at the moment, doesn’t live anywhere except in my head!

Charlotte Brontë put it more simply:

I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.

To which I would only add: look down, too.

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Look both ways, Charlotte

  1. David Buchanan

    Well this is very delightful! Are others able to post photos too? 🙂

  2. That would be lovely but I don’t know whether there is a mechanism to do this. I’ll look into it! 🙂

  3. annabelsmith

    What a fascinating way to think about it. I often struggle to be in the present so this is a good reminder for me.

  4. marlish glorie

    Love your blog Amanda, and the notion of looking up /looking down. Makes sense. I’m always rushing, lunging to get across that finishing line…thing is…the finishing line is constantly being moved.

  5. Great to see you join the bloggers!

  6. Oh, how right you are, Marlish — it’s an elusive thing, that line!

  7. Thanks, Nicole — a neophyte, but I’m finding my way 🙂

  8. This is great Amanda. I look forward to your posts. I hope it will contain more of your beautiful photos of looking up, along with your beautiful words. I created a blog last year and then froze! You’re inspiring me to try again next year to move it along.

  9. David Buchanan

    Perhaps this is why gertude put such an emphasis on the preposition in her poetry in the heady days of modernism? Up down – backward forward – in out – wth without. But really how can any of us be free of this stuff that plays such games with our experience? Wittgenstein said it was like trying to untangle a spider’s web with yr bare fingers. Celan said it was “up there behind the poem.” Still i yearn for something like the modernists thought they had… That they could really change things through gnomic enterprises unafraid of anything from philosophy to physics. Perhaps they were merely muddled by their ‘make it new’ hubris or was it an efferevescence that really supposed it could change the world through art language love/passion? For years I have pondered on the imponderable and how poetry in Australia has shied away from anything gnomic or philosophical? It has become ‘unsafe’? And yet an apophasis lies within this safety? At the nub of Amanda’s prepositions there lurks the big questions of physics (what is time and M Theory) and philosophy (Wittgenstein and Searle’s tripartheid take on language; philosophy of mind; and, how we know what we know apropos of pain, love, death and god). And yet – so far – Witten – Wittgenstein – all – encounter mystery, enigma, the gnomic. As Transtromer put it: (it) “froths with green”. I do hope this isn’t too bold? I live alone in a mountain valley in northern Tas and read too much philosophy and physics and poetry. :-)..

  10. Bold is good, better than, and you can never read too much where the big questions are concerned 🙂 The idea of the unknowable ‘frothing with green’ is one that will stay with me for a long while, as will the questions you raise… thank you 🙂

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