Tag: Diary

The Way We Interpret the Silence Around Us Reflects the Way We Understand the World

…so he died dry, sober, full of hatred for the old drinking self that had wasted twenty years of his life, and still waging a pitiful last campaign against his smoking self – giving up on his deathbed. It was a chosen death, as a matter of fact, he was offered either a few months lingering helplessly, rasping out short, stabby breaths, or a double or so ration of morphine and an immediate release. It was a decision he made in clear consciousness, to that extent an enviable death, but it was slightly marred, in my view, by his wife’s odd sense of style. As he was slipping from the scene, she pressed into one hand a glass of whisky, and between the fingers of the other, a lighted cigarette, thus turning him in the last moments of his life, when too enfeebled to resist but still conscious enough to be aware, into an advertisement for the two things that had destroyed his life. Though I suppose if he’d been photographed and circulated, he might have served as the ghastliest of warnings – look what I’ve done to myself, and with both hands – she described the doing of it, the getting of the lighted cigarette between his fingers, the curling of his fingers around the glass – she’d poured the whisky in after she’d got the glass firmly settled, she said – I asked her with what tenderness I could muster why she’d done it, well, she said, well, that’s how she remembered him in his heyday, when she first met him (both in their mid-forties, divorced, with children), for her he’d been the most glamorous, flamboyant, chain-smoking, whisky-guzzling – and that’s how she’d go on thinking of him, that’s how he’d like to have gone out, didn’t I think so? `He wouldn’t have been seen dead -‘ I wanted to say, but couldn’t, as actually he had been, pretty well – also she was brimming with grief, exhilarated with it, as people sometimes are when they assist a loved one to cross the line, and she had a theatrical background (her father had been famous in musical comedy) and so what could I say – well, volumes, really, but I didn’t, hoping that a brief silence would also be a deep and eloquent one. `I knew you’d approve,’ she said, confirming Wittgenstein’s remark, which I usually think is nonsensical, that our understanding of the world depends on the way we interpret the silence around us.

The Smoking Diaries
Simon Gray. The Smoking Diaries

Dreams – how do they work? Kenneth Tynan ponders

Whenever we solve the problem of dreams, we shall not be far from solving the root problems of human identity and creativity. Has anyone noticed the really inexplicable thing about our nightly narrative tapes? They have suspense. This occurred to me last night, when I was involved in a Hitchcock-type chase dream—in which, I suddenly realized, I did not know what was going to happen next. I did not know who would be lurking behind the next door; and I wanted desperately to know. What part of one’s mind is it that harbours secrets unknown even to the unconscious?  (For in dreams we are surely privy to the unconscious in full flood.) The theory that in dreams we tap a source of energy outside the individual psyche is powerfully reinforced by the presence of suspense.

Diaries, Kenneth Tynan

more Tynan –
Tynan on the true nature of a car wash

Car wash as ritual cleansing

“I took the Buick to a carwash yesterday. There was a steady flow of cars entering it, and I noticed that almost all of them were perfectly clean. The institution of the carwash in California really has very little to do with the washing of cars. It’s more of a ritual — a ceremony of self-purification. It is not your car but you, its owner, who feels cleaner and better as it emerges gleaming from the assembly line, to be polished by the Chicano staff. For an extra dollar (which I spend) you can send the car through a device that subjects it to a boiling spray of Carnuba wax. This represents the annealing fire through which the soul must pass if it is to be purified. I always climb back into my cleansed car feeling, as I am sure Catholics must feel after Confession, a better man.”

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan, edited by John Lahr